Introduction to Stephen King Revisited by Richard Chizmar
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.
I was surprised by how personal my afterword became as I wrote it. Surprised by just how much I remembered about my teenaged self — who I was and where I was and what I was thinking — during the days I originally read Steve’s classic novel.
It felt like a kind of magic.
And I wanted to do it again.
* * *
That amazing experience — along with subsequent talks with Brian Freeman — planted the seeds for STEPHEN KING REVISITED, an exciting and daunting adventure in which I’ve decided to reread — in the order they were originally published — all 65 of Stephen King’s books. And then upon completion of each book, I will report back to you with my thoughts and memories.
Along the way, in addition to my own thoughts, Bev Vincent will be providing short “historical background” essays introducing each book, and guest authors will be sharing their own short remembrances/appreciations.
It’s also my hope that many readers will write in with their own comments and memories and questions, and maybe even join me on this journey.
For that is exactly what this will be…a journey.
I have no idea how long it will take or where it will ultimately lead. I only know that I’m excited and wary and anxious to climb back into that time machine and get started.
One note of warning: if you are looking for in-depth critical analysis, you should look elsewhere. That’s not what this is about. But if you’re looking for honest and personal remembrances from someone whose entire career was shaped and inspired by the writings of Stephen King, then you should stick around. There’s a good time ahead for all of us.
You should know that Steve and I have become good friends over the years. It’s a friendship based on our mutual love for books and movies and sports and family. And a deep mutual loathing of the New York Yankees (sorry, Chuck Verrill).
You should also know that I did ask Steve ahead of time about this crazy idea of mine. In fact, much of the framework for STEPHEN KING REVISITED was hammered out in email exchanges with Steve, and his initial responses ranged from “you should blog about it” to “go for it, big boy!”
He never talks me out of anything and I love that about him. I think.
Okay, enough rambling for now. It’s time to revisit an old friend, an awkward misfit of a teenaged girl. We all know her. Her name is Carrie White.
I hope you will all take my hand and join me, and turn the page…
Next, you can read Bev Vincent’s post about the history of Carrie, Ray Garton’s essay about Carrie, Richard’s essay about rereading the book, or Richard’s follow-up post. To be notified of new posts and updates via email, please sign-up using the box on the right side or the bottom of this site.
I am very much looking forward to following this as it grows. Thanks Richard for doing this! As a big King fan, and also a fan of Cemetery Dance, you guys never stop amazing us readers.
Thanks, James! We think this is going to be a lot of fun!
Brian: How great to know and be friends with Stephen. Been a devoted fan since the 70’s. Just in the last 4 years I have devoted my hallway to pictures I have got both from CemeteryDance and off the internet, these are from alot of his books. I am also re-reading his books and watching his movies. My collection is always growning and I am trying to get signed and all hard covers with jackets. This is something I am willing to invest alot of money in and proud to be a devoted fan. Just toss in a “I LOVE YOU” to Stephen King next time you see him. One of my dreams is to come to Bangor, Maine to meet him. Even though in Song of Susanna he says this is not where he lives, it is still a dream. Another thank you goes to Mindy from CemeteryDance what a huge help she has been.
Dear God, I haven’t even managed to keep up with his output for a one-time read-through yet. I’m both envious and worried for your sanity at the same time!
How could you not keep up? It’s only been like 35 years!
I have been reading Stephen King since 1976 and I am a huge fan. His amazing stories kept me company as a young mother, then on through my travels as a military spouse in Germany, Hawaii and many installations across the country. His books were always my comfortable piece of home, no matter where I found myself living at the time, I always had that one connection, consistency I could rely on no matter what. I think that this is a wonderful idea and I look forward to following along with you as you read all of his books.
I too feel this will be so cool! I can’t say I started with Carrie, but I did start with Salem’s Lot – and have read them all in order ever since. (Except for The Gunslinger, which, before the age of the internet was a mystery book for so many before it appeared on the “also written by” page of Christine or Pet Sematery).
I can’t wait for your remembrances of times past as you take on this daunting task!
I have had the opportunity recently to listen to a lot of his older books since I spent a year travelling many hours on the road back and forth for a consulting position – and that was a blast – but re-reading the physical copies does take dedication!
GO FOR IT Richard!
It would be fun to join along for the ride by knowing the expected timeframe for this. When does he plan to begin and finish reading each book? Does this include the anthologies and The Dark Tower series as well?
He’ll be reading between one and three books a month, depending on the length of the books. This will include all of the collections and The Dark Tower series as well.
I just started this project myself earlier this year, mostly inspired by wanting to read and see how everything ties back into the Dark Tower series. Very interested to read about your experience.
This is so cool. Richard’s afterword describes me perfectly but I’m sure it describes untold numbers of people. I have read a ton of books in my lifetime (I’m 54) but when a high school friend handed me a tattered paperback of Carrie during our junior year, my love of books and to some degree, my life, changed. I’ve wanted to re-read the catalog for some time and this is a great time to do it. I just hope Richard doesn’t go too fast!!! I have a job and 2 teenage daughters that take a lot of my time. And thanks to Brian as it sounds as though you were the gardener that planted and coaxed this wonderful idea out of the ground. Can’t wait to follow this journey!!
Many thanks to all involved!
A VERY happy “Constant Reader” from Indiana.
I’m in, dusting off Carrie right now!
Neat! I’ve been reading him so long – I believe I read Carrie in 1976 – that each new novel is a given. But I’ve also defined periods by King. One of the most fun was when I attended the University of Rhode Island; Donald Grant’s wife worked at the health center there and while other students went there to get treated for … various troubles … I went to pick up first editions, wheee!
This is a great idea! There was a time when I was able to reread my entire Stephen King collection once a year, and I still go back to revisit the lesser read books from time to time. I’m looking forward to this. Many of the books have special memories for me too.
Looking forward to the updates. Many years ago, my wife sent Stephen King a softball along with a note letting him know her husband was a big fan as well as a softball player (just like Stephen). That Christmas I received a softball with mérry Christmas greeting from Stephen king. It sits in a glass case surrounded by his books. A year or so later, Desperation arrived with the character, David Carver. I’ve often wondered if my inscribed softball was the source …. And it was cool to see my name in a story
I am so jeolous, I have forever wanted to just send a note of love and dedication to “my friend” Stephen. I also have read his books from the 1970’s and my mother gave me his new books every Christmas. His books have taken me through life’s struggles of cocaine addiction, which I am proud to have 7 yrs. clean and sober YEA. If there is a way to send a card or message of thanks and love to Stephen. Please let me know. Otherwise I Love you and send you the thanks you so very much deserve.
Ahh, I’m delighted! Like many of the folks above, my first SK was a paperback. That book, Carrie, was purchased at a grocery store and was the beginning of countless hours of being engrossed in Stephen King’s stories. I always have an audio book going in my vehicle. At the moment it’s Duma Key. On the Bose in my kitchen it’s Needful Things and currently on my iPod, it’s Black House.
A big thanks to Mr. King for a lifetime of entertainment and to Mr. Chizmar and Cemetery Dance for this blog and the great job of publishing more fine books to keep me entertained.
Gotta run. Little goblins at my door.
How about adding the short stories in the order they were written not collected? Why do I have the feeling this is going to end badly like Super Size Me? I hope you’re being monitored by a doctor and a psychiatrist.
Looking forward to this time travelling experience. I remember reading Carrie when it came out and have been hooked since then. I think i will reread along with you!
Looking forward to this I have all his books so far and movies amd look forward to leaving and seeing comments that are posted
WOW, this will be absolutely beyond awesome. A journey worth waiting for to say the least and one I can’t wait to experience.
WOW, this will be tremendous. Really looking forward to it
Thrilled that folks are excited and really hoping lots will join me!
Tom Wolfe says you can never go home. I say with Steve’s help and imagination you can. Let’s take the journey together. Things will be different this time, but there is still magic in the Maestro’s words. I’ve already re-read Salem’s Lot and The Shining for the third time. I’m now working on the extended version of The Stand. I’m also re-watching many of the movies based on Steve’s works because in some instances I remember things from them more than I do the actual books, having seen some of the films a dozen or more times. A few of them even more than that. So, like Stu, Glen, Ralph, Larry, and, of course, Steve, let’s take that long walk from Boulder to Vegas and see if the black raven appears to watch our progress. This is a magical journey in which anything can happen, especially when you least expect it.
What a great idea! Congrats!
Looking forward to the journey. There are a few King books I want to reread. As you get to them I think I will jump on.
Wow! Great idea. Not sure I can keep up, but will sure try to read along. Let’s go.
I was a 13-year-old young girl who babysat for a couple that had gone to see the new movie release “Carrie”. On the drive home, the father of the child I cared for, told me about the movie when I explained to him that my own parents had allowed me to watch the original movie “The Fly” when I was only five. I was captivated by the story. A few weeks later I was babysitting for a different lady when I noticed she had the book in her collection and I asked if I could borrow it (she called my parents for permission first because she felt it might be too frightening or explicit for me but my parents were totally okay with it – Thank Goodness!). I was hooked immediately and have been a devoted fan and Constant Reader since then. I read every book twice upon receipt, just to catch everything you miss the first time around LOL! And I have read many of them multiple times just to ‘revisit old friends’. I am looking forward to this experience.
Count me in! I’m very excited to embark on this literary journey with you… My first Stephen King book was Salen’s Lot when I was in the 5th grade… It was years before I stopped checking under my bed and in my closets before bed… My overactive imagination may go haywire with all this SK one book after another like dominos… I can’t wait!
Wow what a crazy but admirable endeavor! I’ll follow along anxiously awaiting your comments along the way. I may even reread a few though I have read every book several times. I just listened to IT and The Stand – that’s more than 60 Audio CDs! I doubt I’ll re read either of these two any time soon! The Stand got me started on my life long endeavor way back in 1979 or so. I stumbled upon CD Magazine at Issue #10 and haven’t looked back since!
I completely understand this journey that you’re undertaking. I own all of Stephen King’s books and I regularly re-read them in the order of publication. I started again just after I finished Mr. Mercedes. I did go a bit out of order by reading the uncut version of The Stand instead of the original version 🙂 I’m reading IT right now. I’m very much looking forward to reading your comments and may be inspired to add a few of my own.
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This will be fun! A group danse macbre. How delicious!
I am so excited for this!! I have been a long time fan of King’s work which started with my purchase of Misery at a yard sale for $.25 cents when I was 10. I LOVED it and haven’t looked back. The next book I read was Carrie and the ‘deal was sealed’ with King as my favorite author of all time. I have read most of his work and am currently halfway through the Dark Tower series. I’m hearing great things about Revival and read the excerpt online. Can’t wait to get my copy. Thank you for doing this Richard.
I’ll be following along. I’ve missed very little of Steve’s work over the years, and one of the biggest regrets of this old man (55)’s life is never having had the chance to just sit down and talk to him. Still, sometimes when you read the books, it’s almost like he’s there…
I think I’m going to join you on my blog. I’ve been thinking about doing something similar to this and it’s nice to see someone come along and kick my butt into doing so 🙂 I may play around with what I can learn about writing from reading his work though, instead of dredging up old memories. 😉
I’m quite envious of you for meeting Steve. When we were young, a friend and I talked about moving to Bangor and going to work at a supermarket, just to be able to meet him. Yeah, we were young. I’m still hoping to meet him one day — maybe.
SO, Carrie, it is…
Keep the comments coming, folks!
I knew today would be a busy day, so at one minute after midnight last night, I pulled out my hardcover edition of CARRIE and read the first 20 pages. The journey begins!
Can you maybe post the whole list in the order you’re gonna read them?
Here are the first two:
And we will post a complete list soon!
I’m glad you will be posting a complete list. I’ve been reading King since I checked Carrie out of the library in 1986. I started buying hard covers of all his novels soon after and have a total of 62. How can I be missing three?
It’ll be in publication order.
This is great! I’ve grown up reading SK books since 1975 (age 11), he’s the greatest. I’m currently out of work, and had been thinking of re-reading most of his books (finding the few I don’t have) in order, and to map out how characters tie in together. Guess now is a good a time as any to start, and try to keep up with it when I land the next job. What fun reading SK books with his groupies.
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I have been reading Stephen King since the movie tie-in edition of “Carrie,” which I purchased from my local B. Dalton Bookseller (does anyone remember those?) because there was NOOOOO way that in 1977 (I would not turn 11 until November of that year) I was going to convince Mom and Dad to take me to the movie. So, I did the next best thing……I bought the book and read it. And thus was born a 37 year love of “Uncle Steve’s” books!
Brilliant, you’ve made my day, I’ve been meaning to read all the books in order for years , now I’ve got the perfect excuse, what a perfect day to start. If you don’t i’ll hitch a lift on your bus and come along for the
ride……. and read.
Such a great idea . . . . very much looking forward to the essays, historical context (the Carrie one was fantastic!) and the guest posts! Reading through Mr. Mercedes right now and eagerly anticipating Revival. Good luck with it and all the best!
I have also been reading Stephen Kings books for a long time. However, I only started collecting first edition copies of the books a few years ago. I actually read “Carrie” for the first time when I received the anniversary edition. I also just purchased a copy of the movie “IT” at Target and may watch it this weekend to celebrate Halloween. I also have the dream of either meeting Mr. King or going to Bangor to visit his local haunts someday.
I’ve not read all of King’s work — I just started IT last night, for instance — and I’m therefore looking forward to working through his oeuvre, that which I’ve read and that which I haven’t yet read. Starting with Carrie, oddly enough — I never did get around to reading that one. The movie scared the wits out of me, though! You might even be able to persuade me to reread Tommyknockers, which I thought was awful, but which nonetheless sort of saved my life — a place to escape extreme depression and anxiety that just about had me walking into the ocean, never to return, on one very, very, very bad vacation. I’ll also be able to review each book at the website I call home as we go along, which will also be great fun!
I’m excited about this! It will be a fun journey to revisit all of King’s works.
I’m ready to begin.
I can remember reading Salem’s Lot and as they were going up to the vampire house I was so scared that I waited to go to the bathroom when my significant other came home!
I remember when “Carrie” was first shown on TV I was living alone in a studio apartment with a Murphy bed. I watched the show over at my friend’s house and then walked back over to my apartment. It then took a while for me to build up my courage to open up the doors and bring down the bed as I was scared that Carrie was waiting on the other side.
Thanks, everyone! Please encourage as many others to participate as possible!
I can’t wait to follow you on this incredible journey. Already, I’m having flashbacks of my own life and what I was doing while reading his books. Wow!
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I think I will start this journey with you. Stephen’s books have always been there for me through good times and bad. I lost my father in July and my sister just a couple of weeks ago. So I think this will be very therapeutic for me, like visiting with old friends. I need something to get me through this time of mourning.
M, I think that’s a beautiful idea. Honored to have you join me!
UPDATE: On page 145 (of 199 pages) of CARRIE and enjoying every minute of it…
Doesn’t get old, does it?
I am totally in! Just started Carrie last night….:) Thanks for doing this, Richard. I think it will be fun!
This will certainly spur me on to complete my King collection……trying for 1st ed HC, but not always easy to find!
Finished Carrie last night and am anxious for Richard’s blog! As I said WAY above, I read this as a sophomore or junior in high school (’75 or ’76) and I was hooked. This was my first re-read of Carrie and after 40 years, it was like meeting an old friend. ‘Salem’s Lot starts tonight!!
The first Stephen King book that I read was “The Stand” after it was highly recommended by a co-worker shortly after it was released. I couldn’t put it down! From then on I have actively searched for anything that SK writes. His writings – non-fiction included – have never disappointed, so a revisit can only be a a joyous occasion. Richard, this is a great idea! I’m looking forward to taking a walk down memory lane with you. Thank you for this opportunity.
I can’t even remember what my first King book was anymore. I know ‘Salem’s Lot, The Stand, The Shining and Gerald’s Game were early contenders. I now pretty much own the lot. There have been some missteps along the way, The Colorado Kid stands out, but King at his worst is often better than most at their best.
The Guardian paper in Britain are doing something similar but have been stalled on Gerald’s Game since July.
It was 1983 and I was a Senior in high school when I picked up my first copy of “Christine”. I was immediately drawn into a world I would never want to escape from, and I’m 49 years old. I read Christine at least 5 times, and of course, like so many other Constant Readers, listed Uncle Stevie as my “favorite author” whenever asked. I can’t imagine my library without his books taking up most of the space. I’m currently revisiting “The Stand”, and I’m so happy I waited till I was a full grown adult to read it again….I’m seeing it through different eyes, it seems. Ever a loyal and constant reader…. xo
I recently completed my own revisit with my BFF Stephen King. I’ve been reading (and re-reading) his books since the original publication of Carrie in 1974, and ours has been an EPIC journey. Looking forward to your views.
How absolutely great and exciting this is! I pulled Carrie off my bookshelf this afternoon and plan to begin reading as soon as I finish, a due Wednesday, paper for grad school.
I’m in! Will go get my copy of Carrie right now. LOVE Stephen King! I will enjoy this, my hubby not so much. I can get lost in my reading, Sorry dear, I’ll try to give you some attention in between books. lol
Very excited that so many of you are planning to join me! Please help spread the word!
Finished CARRIE and will post my thoughts later this evening. On to ‘SALEM’S LOT!
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This is going to be a wonderful site! I am so looking forward to coming here often! Someday I wish I’ll be lucky enough to meet Stephen King in person, shake his hand, and thank him for all the wonderful memories and times he has created through his works! Who knows, maybe someday I’ll also be able to get him to sign one of the many books of his that I own! Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?! 🙂
Wow, this is an amazing discovery! I thought I was the only one who loved Stephen King to the point I’ve seen in reading Richard’s essays and seeing all of the posted comments! This is a journey I cannot wait to witness and be a part of. I live in California and have never had the privilege of being a part of a book reading/signing by SK, but this feels like the next best thing. Almost! When I sit down with a new King novel, I feel as if my best friend has come to visit and has a great story to tell me; I find myself so engrossed in his storytelling.
Thank you for sharing with all of the Constant Readers out there Richard, we will enjoy this revisit with you every step of the way!
I admire your ability to read them in order of publication! There’s absolutely no way I could read The Gunslinger again and then walk away from Roland without immediately jumping in to meet Eddie and the gang. My heart goes out to every fan who had no choice but to wait years in between those books. I look forward to reading your essays!