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Book Reviews

Book Review: Needful Things

Needful Things by Stephen King.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Needful Things is the story of a new shop that opens in a small town in Maine, and the subsequent events that unfold around the customers and the residents of the town as the proprietor of the shop begins to do business.

The setting is Castle Rock, a place many King fans will recognise, and feel at home in. Some of the characters from King’s earlier works make a reappearance, including Ace Merrill (from The Body, a.k.a. Stand by Me), who is one of the main antagonists.

I haven’t read a Stephen King novel for a few years and had forgotten how much I enjoy his work. While I don’t care so much for monsters and spooks, I am a big fan of King’s prose. The way he imbues his characters with amazing depth, giving them wonderful quirks that bring them to life. The short but simple descriptive passages. The suspense.

It’s hard to say what I didn’t like about the book, because it’s down to my own personal taste; as an older man, I admit I now find it more tricky to suspend my disbelief in the supernatural. However, I recognise this, and therefore haven’t let my personal feelings cloud my judgement in this review.

What I loved was the characterisation, especially the main protagonist, Alan Pangborn. The way King shapes him through the course of this novel is truly masterful. I’ll remember that character and his shadow puppets for a long time, if not the rest of my life.

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Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: On Writing

On Writing: A Memoir by Stephen King.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

On Writing is exactly what it says in the sub-title: a memoir. But it’s more than that. While the first third of the book recounts key events in King’s life that perhaps make him the writer he is, the second two thirds attempt to describe how he goes about the craft of writing.

This is the third time I’ve read this book, and I’ve given it five stars so it’s obvious I like pretty much all of it. The advice King offers is priceless, and I believe it will make most people who follow it much better writers.

The parts I didn’t like were those describing the grisly medical procedures he underwent as a child and as an adult following the road accident that almost killed him. The reason I didn’t like these was not because they were badly written or unnecessary, but because I vicariously experienced them.

A recommended book for anyone interested in Stephen King, or improving their writing.

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