There are a lot of things in the world that make me ragey. Bad drivers. Raging sexists. Bags of food that say “easy open” but they are CLEARLY NOT EASY OPEN and you TOTALLY TEAR THE WHOLE BAG OPEN and then fish sticks go EVERYWHERE and the cat comes over all “YAY WHAT A BANNER DAY FISH STICKS FROM THE SKY!” I mean, so I hear. I totally would never eat fish sticks. How déclassé would that be? Fish sticks. I mean REALLY.
Reading-wise, I have my rages, too. Cardboard characters. Lack of proofreading. You know. The usual. The things that make us all ragey. But today, let’s talk about something that’s a little more personal to me, and also to the week.
It’s time to stop the King-snobbery, because it makes me want to punch you in the throat-area.
I’m (well, duh, I think you can tell from the week) an unabashed King fan. I’ve read nearly everything he’s written, give or take some short stories I’m having trouble hunting down. New Stephen King book day in Casa de Amy is akin to Christmas or a birthday. I started reading his books in junior high, snuck to me by a very sympathetic (and kickass) babysitter. (Seriously, I don’t remember her name at this point, but she was such a reader. I loved her. She was funny and intelligent and always shared her books. And would buy books for me that she thought I’d like at garage sales and let me keep them! Babysitter whose name I don’t remember, I appreciate you!)
A thing I hate is when I tell someone I’m a King fan (because listen, I’m not at all ashamed of it, it’s not like I’m admitting to picking my nose in public places or being…*shudder*…a politician) and they make THE FACE.
You know the face. The face of disgust. Like the person smelled something ripe in public. Then I get, “Oh. Stephen KING. I don’t read his books.”
Usually these people feel the need to explain WHY they don’t read his books to me. The reasons are:
- “I hate horror. I never read horror.”
- “I don’t read that kind of trash. I only read…(Oprah’s selections/non-fiction/books written by female authors on paper woven of their own hair.”)
- “He just keeps writing the same thing over and over. He’s boring.”
- “That’s popular stuff. Popular stuff is never good.”
- “THOSE BOOKS ARE FILTHY!” (that one’s from my mom. One cuss = that book is filthy.)
Now, listen. Everyone has their own taste. I don’t like to be judgey. What? I totally don’t. I mean, I AM, but I get it. Some people like some things, some like others. I get it. But I don’t like THE FACE. The snotty, snooty “MY BOOKS ARE BETTER THAN YOUR BOOKS” face.
Stephen King shouldn’t inspire Bitter Beer Face. (Please tell me at least one of you remembers the Bitter Beer Face commercials or I’m going to feel ancient.)
Maybe he’s not your taste; maybe you don’t like his writing style, or, like my mom, even one cuss makes you feel like you’re holding a book of porn, I don’t know. But I can address the reasons above in a very intellectual way. You just watch, bub.
I hate horror. I never read horror.
He just keeps writing the same thing over and over again; he’s boring.
Well, that’s your prerogative. But he doesn’t just WRITE horror. Sure, he’s best known for his horror. But he also writes wonderful fantasy (The Dark Tower series; Eyes of the Dragon) and books with a sci-fi bent (11/22/63, The Tommyknockers.) He also writes non-fiction (his On Writing is really wonderful for anyone interested in writing anything, ever) and short stories, some of which are horror, sure, but some are not. Not at all.
This also covers the “same thing over and over” argument. No, he doesn’t. Does he tend to cover the scarier things in the world? Yes. Of course he does. But they’re not the same. Not at all. You haven’t read more than a couple of his books if you think that.
I don’t read that kind of trash.
This makes me ragiest. Don’t call other people’s books trash. I don’t like the Twilight books, but I don’t call them trash and make a face like I smelled a dead skunk under my porch. I hated that Fifty Shades nonsense, but if a friend came to me and was all “BEST THING EVER ZOMG,” I wouldn’t make a face and say “YOU ARE A TRASHY TRASHERSON.” I might nicely say, “I didn’t like that,” but I wouldn’t make them feel BAD about liking it. That is rude. Don’t do that.
Book snobs (or any sort of media snobs) make me angry. You like what you like, you dislike what you dislike – but you don’t need to make your friends and loved ones feel shitty about what they enjoy. You’re being a joy-sucker when you do that. Do you want to be a joy-sucker? Do you really? There’s so little joy in the world that you need to remove MORE of it? No. The answer to that is no, you don’t.
Also, the man’s won multiple awards. Check here if you don’t believe me. Most shocking? The National Book Award in 2003. People were SO UPSET about that one. There was a lot of talk of “dumbing down the NBA for popular authors” and such. I was just pleased. Because the man deserved it. He works hard. And his books are good, dammit. Really, really good.
(Also, his books have sold more than 350 million copies as of the writing of this post, making him the 19th bestselling author of all time. OF ALL TIME, you guys. Like, in ALL OF RECORDED BOOKSELLING HISTORY. That’s something, right?)
That’s popular stuff. Popular stuff is never good.
Well, it’s sometimes good, and sometimes it’s just popular, and sometimes the twain don’t meet, you know how that works. But sometimes good books make the popular list. King’s books are good, and they make the list. It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It just means they’re popular. Don’t discount them just because everyone else is reading them. That makes you a hipster, and do you really want to be a hipster? Do you really? Because a common synonym for hipster is douche. Just saying.
THOSE BOOKS ARE FILTHY!
Sorry, Mom. Yeah, he likes cussing. And sex. Not more than the average writer, but I learned a LOT of my naughtiest vocab (and, again, sorry, Mom, but the beginnings of my sex knowledge, until I got a little more…um…hands-on?) from King books read on the sly in junior high.
But, everyone who’s not my mom? They’re really not all that filthy. They’re actually quite tame, compared to some of the things I’ve read in the world. Your delicate sensibilities will not be compromised. I promise.
So, yeah. I get it if he’s not your thing. I’m not going to force you to read them; I’m not even going to pressure you. I think he’s amazing, but you know, do your thing, jellybeans. But don’t give me THE FACE. Don’t even. It makes me stabby. And I have a pair of scissors within arms’ length at all times. For this very situation. DON’T MAKE ME USE THEM.