Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bag of Bones: My favorie King

It's a fairly common question: What is your favorite book by your favorite author? When it comes to Stephen King, there are so many possibilities, it's mind boggling.

There are King novels that I don't like as much as others. "The Tommyknockers" is an interesting premise but the characters pale in comparison to those in other books.

And there are people who swear that the Dark Tower books are the end all, be all of King's works. There are also people who say King's best work ended in 1983 with "Pet Semetary." (These are the same people who haven't read "The Green Mile" because it's not horror.)

My favorite is "Bag of Bones." Surprised? Thought I was leaning toward "The Shining" or maybe "The Dead Zone"? You guessed wrong.

"Bag of Bones" is the pinnacle of King's crossover work. It is frightening in places and has that sense of truth other books lack. Yes, there are ghosts and weirdness, but the take of Mike Noonan, his writer's block and how he finds out about the life his deceased wife had is as real as fiction can get.

If there is a book (besides "The Green Mile") that proved to the establishment that King is a literary author, not just some hack and slash horror writer, it is "Bag of Bones."

The strange thing is that I know people who found the book boring. Or maybe they just thought it was cliche. "Bag of Bones" distills the essence of King, so it feels like you are reading any number of his other books. So I can see how some readers might not like "Bag of Bones." It's like people who won't buy a greatest hits album. If you are a real fan, you have all the other albums anyway and likely enjoy the non-hit songs more than the popular songs.

But sometimes, a band releases a greatest hits album with bonus tracks: previously unreleased material, rarities or remixes.

Consider "Bag of Bones" to be King's greatest hits. You know the basic material, but it's the bonus tracks that make it worth reading.

Beyond my simple pleasure in reading the book, "Bag of Bones" has also proven to be the most inspirational to my own fiction writing. I took the title of my own novel from a phrase in the book. (No, you won't be able to find it because it hasn't been published. Because the third act needs a major rewrite.) It is strange that a book concerning one writer's struggle to continue his creative life would inspire my own. That's just how things are.

My hope now is that the cinematic version holds on to as much of the truth in the book that I love. It's being filmed now with Mick Garris behind the camera, Pierce Brosnan as Mike Noonan and Melissa George as Mattie Devore. It's being shot to air on cable network A&E, which means I won't get to see it on its initial broadcast. Because I don't have cable.

So, if you are out there, A&E public relations people, when "Bag of Bones" is ready to air, go ahead and send me a preview copy, m'kay?


  1. My favorite King is The Dark Half, followed closely by The Gunslinger. They might even be tied in my head. I have a Dark Half tattoo (big King dork), and I love the concept of a person you have made up in your head coming to life. It's every horror writers worst nightmare. The sparrows are flying again.
    I'm a big fan of The Talisman as well.

  2. SpookySean,
    What is your Dark Half tat? I've been trying ot think of a Stephen King tattoo but want something more original than all the Pennywise tattoos out there.