Monday, June 6, 2016

Stephen King Countdown: end of watch?

King's new book, END OF WATCH, is out tomorrow. I'll get my copy at the reading. When it was announced that Bill Hodges would have a trilogy, the title of the third book was The SUICIDE PRINCE.

Even though END OF WATCH sounds somewhat bland, I like the change. I like that King (and maybe the folks at Scribner, his publisher) decided they didn't want to promote a product with "suicide" in the title. That can get sticky these days and I don't see it as a PR move as much as a reality check.

We know well enough that what happens between the book cover is going to be horrible. There's more than a good chance that someone we've come to love over the previous two books will die. That's how King works.

We don't need to be told in the title that someone we love will be driven to suicide. We just know things will be bad.

That King has sustained Bill Hodges and his rag-tag crew into a third book is simultaneously surprising and not a surprise at all. He writes long and sometimes those long stories seem like they could be broken up. In this case, we have three distinct stories. Stretching them out over a few years has only whetted the appetites of his readers, myself included.

I turned the FINDERS KEEPERS hardback cover into a tattoo, for crying out loud.

The worry, of course, is that King's watch is ending. How long can he keep putting out one or two books a year? and can he maintain this level of good/great writing? The two Hodges books have been among his best pure writing ever. One can see him giving into a story that he might not have written ten years earlier and definitely not twenty or thirty years earlier. He's matured and so have his books.

I like that about him. I like that he doesn't play to the masses like he did in the 1980s and early '90s. He's writing the stories he wants to write.

Even when he changes the title.

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