Tag Archives: Richard Chizmar

Revisiting Danse Macabre by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

Danse MacabreI bought my first copy of DANSE MACABRE — a beat-up paperback from a used bookstore, of course — sometime early on in college. I remember taking it home, along with three or four other books, and being disappointed when I discovered it wasn’t a novel or a new collection of stories.

I skipped around a lot the first time I picked it up. Chapters with scholarly titles such as “Radio and the Set of Reality” and “The Modern American Horror Movie–Text and Subtext” were blown by without a second glance. In truth, I was probably intimidated, but I never would have admitted that. Instead, I’m sure my take on it was something along the lines of: I get enough teaching in school, and I’m not much interested in taking a home course right now.

But, in a way, that’s exactly what ended up happening.

Because while I remember skipping over certain chapters altogether and liking — but not loving — certain other chapters, the sections of DANSE MACABRE that did capture my interest did so in such a significant way that they helped shape the direction of my life. » Read more

Revisiting Roadwork by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

This one is easy, folks.

Because, for ROADWORK, there simply wasn’t a “That Was Then…”

roadwork--smallThat’s right. ROADWORK is one of two Stephen King novels I had never read before. (And, nope, I’m not going to tell you the other one, but you are all welcome to guess, of course.)

So…why didn’t I read ROADWORK when news first hit many moons ago that Richard Bachman was actually Stephen King? After all, I gobbled up the other Bachman books — THE LONG WALK, RAGE, THE RUNNING MAN, THINNER — and enjoyed them all to varying degrees.

So, what was the deal with ROADWORK?

I promised myself I would remain honest at all times while taking this journey, so my answer here is a simple one: I tried to read ROADWORK. Several times. But it just didn’t take.

There was something about the book’s voice that failed to reach me. Something about the character of George Bart Dawes himself that failed to reach me. And I wasn’t crazy about the storyline of the book either — “A Novel of the First Energy Crisis”? No, thanks.

Was I simply too young or naive to connect with and enjoy the book? Perhaps. But then again King was only 25 years old himself when he wrote the darn thing.

Whatever the reasons, ROADWORK eventually slipped through the cracks for me and was largely forgotten. » Read more

Revisiting Firestarter by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

FirestarterI first read FIRESTARTER the summer after I graduated from high school. I still have my old paperback edition sitting on the bookshelf. Here is what I remember:

* I read the novel over a two day period, sitting alone on the 4th Street beach in Ocean City, Maryland. I took occasional breaks to swim and eat and probably nodded off a couple times — the warmth of the sun and the sound of the surf have that effect on me — but other than that, the book never left my hands.

* At some point on the second day, I remember looking off to the side and noticing an older woman reading a shiny hardcover edition of THE DEAD ZONE. She was glistening with sunscreen and a trio of hyper little kids were running circles around her, hooting and throwing sand at each other. I remember thinking she was crazy to read a hardcover on the beach. During the many beach summers to come, I saw dozens of other readers with Stephen King books in their hands, and it always made me smile. Still does.

* As I got deeper into FIRESTARTER, I grew to love Charlie McGee like a little sister. I was maybe ten years older than her, and it was her character I most closely identified with. I wanted to hide and protect her. I wanted to save her. I wanted to make her smile. Of course, I was powerless to do anything of the sort; all I could do was keep flipping the pages. » Read more

Revisiting The Dead Zone by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

the-dead-zone-smallUnlike THE LONG WALK, I don’t have any specific memories of where I was in my life when I first read THE DEAD ZONE.

No idea how old I was, where I was living, whether I was in high school or college or freshly graduated, whether I was single, engaged, married.

When it comes to the exact timeline, my mind is a blank…which is unusual for me. Especially when it relates to a book I enjoyed so much and one for which I have so many specific memories.

So, without further rambling, here are some of those crystal clear remembrances from that mysterious “Dead Zone” of my life:

* Johnny — and his love for Sarah — form the backbone of THE DEAD ZONE, and what happens to that love absolutely shattered my heart. I might not remember where I was in my life when I first met these two, but I do remember how difficult it was for me to accept their fate, much less read certain sections of the book because they hurt too much.

I’m talking about when Johnny finds out how much time has passed while he was in a coma and that Sarah is now married and has children; when Sarah comes to visit Johnny at his father’s house and they make love (this one hurt the most); and Johnny’s poignant letter to Sarah at the end of the book.

I held out hope for a happy ending for these two long after it became painfully obvious that it wasn’t meant to be. I just couldn’t let go of that hope. A lot like real life, huh?

* I adored Johnny’s dad, Herb Smith. Much like Stu Redman from THE STAND, he reminded me quite a bit of my own father. Stoic. Dignified. Responsible. A man with a wonderful, loving heart facing great obstacles. » Read more

Follow Richard Chizmar On Twitter And You Could Win A Signed Stephen King Book!

Hey Folks!

Richard is finishing his essay about The Dead Zone right now, and it will be posted here tomorrow, but in the meantime, we have an important message to pass along from him:

“Sign up to follow me on Twitter at @RichardChizmar because once I reach 3,000 followers, I will randomly pick one lucky winner and send them a signed Stephen King book!”

So if you’re on Twitter, make sure you follow him today!

» Read more

Revisiting The Long Walk by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

The Long WalkWhen I was a teenager, I spent several summer vacations working a government job at nearby Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Edgewood Arsenal. My duties ranged from laying asphalt to landscaping to pulling up old railroad tracks to shredding government documents.

The summer of paper shredding (as it would come to be known) was a memorable one for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I was assigned to work under a great guy. His name was Lonnie. If I ever knew his last name, it’s long forgotten now.

Lonnie was a hard worker and a good boss. At first, he was quiet and kept mostly to himself. But the more we got to know each other, the more we discovered we had a lot in common, despite our age difference.

Lonnie was a Vietnam veteran and I was (at the time) obsessed with military history, especially the Vietnam conflict. I had read dozens of books on the subject and watched every documentary I could lay my hands on. As Lonnie learned to trust me and respect my curiosity, he shared dozens of stories about his time in Vietnam that I still remember today.

Lonnie also loved fishing, as did I, and in the years following that summer, I would often share my catches with Lonnie and his family.

Finally, Lonnie was a reader. We would often read paperbacks during our lunch breaks. He tended to like science fiction and non-fiction, while my tastes ran more to the dark stuff. » Read more

Revisiting The Stand (1978) by Richard Chizmar

THAT WAS THEN…

The StandTHE STAND was originally published in 1978, but I didn’t get around to reading it until a decade later — the very end of 1988/beginning of ’89. Christmas vacation of my final year of college to be exact. I was living in an apartment near the University of Maryland at the time, but had traveled home to Edgewood to stay with my parents for the nearly month long holiday break.

I had just finished with exams and the premiere issue of CEMETERY DANCE had just been published weeks before, so I spent my time at home recharging my brain and devouring a pile of magazine submissions…and reading THE STAND every night before I fell asleep.

Why, all these years later, do I so clearly remember reading it during that time period?

One simple image, which I will get to in a moment.

First, my thoughts on THE STAND upon that initial reading:

I loved it, but it was more than that: it almost felt like I was being hypnotized by the story — this was becoming a familiar experience when reading a SK book — as it took over my late nights and, on more nights than I care to remember, my dreams. » Read more

Richard Chizmar Is Writing His Essay About The Stand (1978)

Hey Folks!

Just a heads-up, Richard is now writing his essay about the original version of The Stand and it’ll be posted this week.

Remember, you can follow Richard on Twitter for his personal updates and other posts of interest to readers and collectors and Stephen King fans!

The Stand

» Read more

1 2 3 4