THAT WAS THEN…
‘SALEM’S LOT was the first Stephen King novel I ever read.
I carried the paperback (with the bright red drop of blood dripping from the embossed black fang) everywhere I went. I’d picked it up used at — where else? — Carol’s Used Bookstore in good old downtown Edgewood, and by the time I was finished reading it, the cover was torn off and missing and most of the pages were dog-earred. I still have that copy today.
I was fifteen years old when I discovered ‘SALEM’S LOT. It was shortly after I’d read “The Monkey,” along with the rest of my tenth grade English class, and I was itching to try a full-length Stephen King book. I remember starting the novel on a school day. In the middle of class. My History teacher was not amused. Neither were my parents, a few days later, when I tried to sneak in a couple chapters during Sunday church service. » Read more
On page 82 of the first edition hardcover edition of CARRIE, we are introduced to a character by the name of George Chizmar:
“George Chizmar, Ewen’s most artistic student, had done a small chalk sketch of gondolas on a canal at sunset and a gondolier in a huge straw fedora leaning against the tiller as a gorgeous panoply of pinks and reds and oranges stained both sky and water.”
I remember being stunned, and more than a little pleased, the first time I read that sentence. I had never before seen my last name (trust me, it’s not a common one) in any work of fiction, so for it to appear in my favorite author’s debut novel was quite a thrill.
Of course, it also led to many years of inevitable questions: did Stephen King name Ewen’s most artistic student after you, Rich? Did he know your father? Your uncle? » Read more
THAT WAS THEN…
So, I sit down a couple weeks ago and write my introduction to Stephen King Revisited and I go on and on about how King’s books carry so many personal memories for me — where I was when I first read them, who I was, what I was thinking — and now it comes time to discuss the very first King book, CARRIE, and I realize…ummmm, my memory of this one isn’t quite so clear, folks.
Great way to start this journey, huh?
But it actually makes sense when I think about it.
CARRIE was originally published in April 1974. I was eight years old at the time and busy fishing and collecting baseball cards and playing whiffle ball in the side yard with my friends. My only exposure to horror at that early age were comic books and the Saturday afternoon Creature Double Features on television. » Read more
Richard Chizmar was caught reading on the job today. For the record, he’s on page 145 of 199:
This would be a great time for you to join in and read along! You can order an eBook and start right now, and Carrie won’t take you long to finish. Here are some links:
Barnes & Noble
After Carrie, Rich will be reading ‘Salem’s Lot and posting his thoughts by Thanksgiving here in the US. Here are the eBook store links if you want to snag a copy of Stephen King’s classic small town vampire novel:
Barnes & Noble
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Like many longtime readers, I can chart the course of my life by when and where I read most of Stephen King’s books. Bag of Bones was sitting by a friend’s hospital bed every day for a week. Insomnia while laying in a hospital bed myself. Black House in a three day frenzy at the beach after a surprise phone call from Akiva Goldsman asking me to help adapt the novel into a screenplay. And IT, as a college junior, the week after I walked away from a collegiate lacrosse career that I believed at the time defined me as a human being. In that regard, IT may have just saved the life of a very lost and very confused young man. At the very least, it carved the path for my writing and editing career and gave me something to dream about again.
Pretty much all of Steve’s books are like that for me. Personal. Meaningful. Special. Most of the early ones seemed to magically come along at just the right time for me. I’ve listened to many other readers, writers, and editors tell me the same thing about Steve’s books and their own lives.
— Richard Chizmar, from the afterword to PS Publishing’s anniversary edition of Christine
* * *
Rereading Christine and writing the afterword was like traveling back to my youth in a time machine. I turned the pages, and I was a teenager again, carrying around a tattered, old paperback. Experiencing the novel for the first time. Walking the hallways of my high school. Hurrying to practice after the final bell. And hanging out with friends and classmates, kids very much like Dennis and Arnie and Leigh from Christine. » Read more