running themes stephen king books

(202 Posts)
marissab Sun 16-Jun-13 20:50:09

I'm reading Duma Key and am picking up lots of themes from other books. For example, one man who can't sleep says he feels like he's floating above himself like a balloon. This is an obvious ref to insomnia. I've read about links between books with randalf flagg and other baddies with `RF` initials. I would like to know more about these themes. Does anyone know if anyone's written anything i can read up on? It's something I'm interested in because I'm going back and re-reading the old SK's.

Bag of Bones is one of my favourites. And I am utterly in love with the old man in Insomnia (is he Ralph?). The end is just heart breaking.

I quite like Lisey's Story but the can opener bit just completely freaks me out. I can cope with just about anything in King, but that bit gets me and creeps me out every time. Having said I like it though, I much prefer the 'non horror' bits, ie the relationship and the back story about her husband etc. The other world stuff is pretty daft and, for me, the 'monsters' in L's Story and Duma Key are his absolute worst.

Really enjoying 'Joyland' so far. I might finish it tonight.

I hated, 'Horns' - thought it was ridiculous. Daniel Radcliffe is in the film version, the idea of which isn't working for me much either. 'Heart Shaped Box' okay but vastly inferior to daddy.

I used to love sk and my favourite thing was recognising the characters from other books. I'm reading Duma key right now and I'll be honest, i'm a bit bored.

SarahAndFuck Thu 20-Jun-13 00:10:23

I think in my review of Horns I described it as being 'a bit Dean Koontz'. Which at one time would have been a compliment but now is a insult of the highest order.

I didn't know their was going to be a film. Daniel Radcliffe? No.

Have you tried NOS 4R2 yet? It's worth it. This is the one.

Will do.

LaQueen Sun 23-Jun-13 20:09:19

I think I've read just about all SK books.

The reoccuring themes I've noticed are his adulation of childhood (typically pubescent children) - his child protagonists are generally portrayed as being far more pure, intuative and noble than the adults. An interesting tangent to this was the character of Tom Cullen in The Stand, an adult but with the mind of a small child...therefore his mind can't be controlled by Randall Flagg, he is too pure.

Also, lots of reoccuring themes of incest.

Dogs are always faithful.

He has an obsession with push bikes and baseball memorabilia, and goes into great detail about them. Couldn't his parents afford to buy him them, when he was a child?

A large majority of his adult protagonists are writers...and I suspect SK fancies himself as a bit of literary academic? In Bag Of Bones, the main character is a writer, and suddenly for no real reason he gives another character a close reading analysis of Bartleby by Herman Melville, which runs for a few pages? Oh, yes well done Stephen, aren't you clever...you've just done what every first year literature under-graduate can do hmm

Lots of references to Lord of the Rings, in many of his books. And Greek mythology.

Many of his supporting cast of characters/side-kicks have a rare gift, typically mimicry, or psychic abilities.

SarahAndFuck Sun 23-Jun-13 20:45:07

Dogs are always faithful unless they are Cujo smile

Poor Cujo. sad

I'm not remembering lots of incest.

Was it King or Bryson whose mum threw out all his baseball cards? Am having a bimbo moment but I 'think' it was SK.

He taught lit and clearly reads a lot, and yes, he comes back a lot to writers and writing - The Dark Half especially but lots more.

SarahAndFuck Sun 23-Jun-13 21:11:06

There was incest in Gerald's Game but I'm struggling to think of it in any other books. But as we've said, there's a lot of books and they cover a lot of themes. I bet I'll think of more as soon as I hit post message.

His father left the family when he and his brother were young, and I think they went to live with relatives. They weren't very well off by the sounds of things.

He has an enthusiasm for the popular culture of the fifties I think, the music, the films and as he was a child I think that carries over to the things that children of his time enjoyed. And a lot of those things are iconic now, in design etc, there is a lot of interest in the things of that time. I think he enjoys the ephemera of childhood really.

I noticed the same thing in the most recent Joe Hill book, a lot of detail about bicycle design and motorcycles etc.

LaQueen Mon 24-Jun-13 13:28:32

Incest in Geralds' Game, The TommyKnockers, and IT (Maggie's Dad starts perving over her). Will try to remember the others.

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 13:33:47

Do you mean Beverly from IT? I remember that now, he kept talking about her being 'intact' didn't he?

Still can't remember incest in Tommyknockers but it's been a long time since I read it.

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 13:41:03

Great thread. I really enjoy the crossover themes in SK books.
No one has mentioned Rose Madder, it is one of my favourites.
He did a small baseball one Billy ???, was a bit meh
Thank god for MN. I never knew he had a new book out or had a son that wrote. Will need to go book shopping.
Also, my brother has been praising Dark Tower series for years. Will have to give in and give it a go. Don't know why I have avoided them, like fantasy and cowboys wink

I remember Beverley in 'It' but can't remember anything in The Tommyknockers (then again, I loathe that book so don't think about it much!).

The baseball one is Blockade Billy. It's okay but lightweight - in the same way that Joyland is his 'pulp' novel, BB is his 'little sporty' novel. smile I think baseball comes across in a much more interesting way in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (great book btw!).

What I love about him is that he knows he's typecast but still experiments with genre, publishing ideas, different media etc. Does anybody remember his weird internet only one about a plant?

LaQueen Mon 24-Jun-13 20:17:08

Sorry, yes I mean Beverly, God knows where I got Maggie from hmm He keeps making lewd observations, then just before the crisis point when IT's power is growing, he tries to grab her, but she gets away from him?

I can't remember the character names in The TommyKnockers, but in it, one male character deliberately shoots his father in a hunting accident while they're out in the woods (the power of The TommyKnockers is affecting him). And, SK tells that the man's father systematically abused him, and his younger brother, every time their Mum went to stay with relatives sad

Thanks for the memory jog. I do have vague recollections now - not enough to re-read the damn thing and check though!

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 21:34:30

Oh, I remember that now. That bit about the abuse was horrible, but I'd forgotten what book it was in.

Musickeepsme - my eye is twitching again. grin

Imscarlet Mon 24-Jun-13 21:40:49

Have you seen this flowchart The Stephen King Universe detailing links between different books?

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 21:44:59

my brother would love that poster but if I bought it I would keep it
It looks great

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 23:35:08

I love that poster!

musickeepsmesane Mon 24-Jun-13 23:42:05

Sarah has Dean Koontz slipped a bit then? Haven't read any of his for a while. I liked the Odd Thomas I read a while back?
I am thinking the poster is affordable in pounds sterling........but I would have to get at least 2!!

SarahAndFuck Mon 24-Jun-13 23:52:32

I think he has slipped.

The last few books of his that I read seemed to promise a lot and deliver nothing. A few of them seem to get to the end and have him realise he has no idea how to finish the story properly. IIRC one of them had everything fixed at the last moment by a magic dog.

I gave up on him for awhile but decided to try the 77 Something Street and hated that as well.

musickeepsmesane Tue 25-Jun-13 00:03:33

That's a shame. Though I have plenty other reading to do now! I see SK and Peter Straub did a follow up on The Black House. I have no idea how, but I missed it. So definately giving that a go.

LaQueen Tue 25-Jun-13 10:33:54

I can't read Dean Koontz now...20 years ago I really enjoyed him.

But, now I just find him silly. Plus, I find it really annoying when he tries to make his protagonist interlecktewel, and includes lots of literary references/big words - which DK then feels he has to explain to his readers hmm

S'okay Dean my boy, you don't have to explain to me what osmosis means...or sychophant ...and, yes I do happen to already know that Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings.

It may surprise you to know, that some of your readers have a working vocabulary of more than 375 words hmm

Dean K is a poor writer, who lets his own personality and what I think must be pretty overbearing Christianity get in the way of telling a decent story. It's all pretty mawkish - a shame as a couple of his earlier ones showed promise. Also, let's face it, he churns so many out and so quickly that he's clearly not going through much of a planning, thinking, refining or editing process.

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