‘Thinner’ and the Blame Game

What I Learned from Stephen King by Jason Sechrest

“There are no curses, only mirrors you hold up to the souls of men and women.” – Stephen King, Thinner

A disclaimer before we begin: As is the case with most of these doo-dads, there are spoilers ahead for those who have not read Thinner. More spoilers than usual in fact, as I found it necessary to employ the book’s end in my final analysis. If you, Constant Reader, should wish to check out now, we will hold no grudge, nor lay the blame. For if there is anything to be learned from Thinner (and I believe there is, or I would not have written said doo-dad), it is that blame is like a spinning wheel. Round and round and round she goes… Continue Reading

News from the Dead Zone #157

Next week is going to be busy in the Stephen King universe. Joyland and the all-star soundtrack for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County both come out on June 4. My review of Joyland can be seen here. It will also appear in issue 70 of Cemetery Dance magazine, together with an interview with Charles Ardai, Hard Case Crime’s publisher.

Here are the media appearances that are slated for next week to promote the two releases. Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett will be involved with some of them.

  • Monday, June 3rd: The Today Show and Meet the Creators (a live event at Apple’s NY Soho store that will be broadcast later in the week)
  • Tuesday, June 4th: Morning Joe and Charlie Rose
  • Wednesday, June 5th: All Things Considered and Late Show with David Letterman
  •  Thursday, June 6th: The Colbert Report
  •  Friday, June 7th: SiriusXM Live Conversation with Mojo Nixon

King has already done a few interviews about Joyland. Last weekend he was on the cover of Parade magazine (there’s a cool behind-the-scenes video online) and a couple of days ago he did a long interview with Terry Gross on NPR (On Growing Up, Believing in God and Getting Scared). Some people have been complaining about the lack of an eBook edition of Joyland (for now at least). Charles Ardai wrote an essay that explained their rationale: Why Cling to the Past? Exclusive essay by Stephen King’s publisher about Joyland. There’s a 15-second teaser trailer for the book on YouTube.

Concord Music group has announced that Ghost Brothers of Darkland County will be released as an illustrated digital book for iBooks on June 3rd. The comprehensive multimedia edition fuses the production’s story, soundtrack, artwork and video extras into a complete interactive experience. The soundtrack is streaming live at The Wall Street Journal.

That’s not all that’s new. “Afterlife,” the story King read in its entirety at UMass Lowell last December, is in the “summer reading” issue of Tin House magazine. You can get it from the various online bookstores, but it’s only $15 straight from the publisher, with free media mail shipping.

And I assume you’ve already ordered a copy of The Dark Man, the lavishly illustrated edition from CD that showcases Glenn Chadbourne’s awesome art?

Then, on June 17, Coliloquy is publishing the eBook Hard Listening, which has a collection of essays and e-mail exchanges from members of the Rock Bottom Remainders. The iPad/iBooks version is enhanced and interactive, with videos and audio files embedded in the text. There’s a great video of everyone in the green room getting a laught out of Mitch Albom’s Elvis wig. Steve is rolling on the floor with laughter. It’s a funny and fun book. Also of note, there’s a new King short story. However, I won’t reveal the title because three other authors were tasked with writing a story in King’s style and readers get a chance to vote on which one they think is the real King. After you vote, you can see how other readers voted and, separately, how other Rock Bottom Remainders voted. All author proceeds from the sales of Hard Listening will be donated to offset the late Kathi Kamen Goldmark’s medical bills. You can read an excerpt here.

And then, on June 24th, we get the premiere of Under the Dome. Here’s a long trailer and Hollywood Reporter’s 10 Things to Know about the series.

PS Publishing has added two more 30th anniversary King editions to their roster, in addition to the already announced Christine and Pet Sematary. In 2014 they will issue Thinner and Skeleton Crew. There’s a strong Cemetery Dance angle here, too. Rich Chizmar has written the afterword for Christine, and I wrote one for Pet Sematary.

Chris Evans (Captain America) has been cast as the lead in Tom Holland’s adaptation of “The Ten O’Clock People.” Filming is expected to begin in Atlanta this fall. The John Cusack film Cell is also scheduled to begin filming in September. Tod “Kip” Williams (Paranormal Activity 2) is directing.

I attended the Dollar Baby Film Festival that was held in conjunction with Comicpalooza in Houston last weekend. Here’s my report on the event at FEARnet.

News from the Dead Zone #151

My 150th post was so memorable, so legen—wait for it—dary that I was hesitant to follow it up. Nah, I’ve just been busy with other stuff (a likely story). So, here it is, #151. All the news that’s fit to print, and even some that isn’t.

The hottest news is the pending publication of “A Face in the Crowd,” an e-book and audiobook short story co-written with Stewart O’Nan, release slated for August 21. You can read the plot synopsis at King’s website. If you find yourself saying, “Hey, that sort of sounds familiar,” there’s a good reason. King talked about this story idea in Faithful, also co-written with O’Nan, while discussing the Face Game, something he’d do to amuse himself while watching baseball games. “What if a guy watches a lot of baseball games on TV because he’s a shut-in or invalid…and one night he sees his best friend from childhood, who was killed in a car crash, sitting in one of the seats behind the backstop…After that the protagonist sees him every night at every game.” You can read the full passage from Faithful here. The idea stuck around. King mentioned it again at the end of his appearance at the Savannah Book Festival, where Stewart O’Nan was in attendance. You can hear King talking about it at the 1 hr 5 min mark of this video.

The next book to be published will probably be Joyland, which will be out from Hard Case Crime next June. Neil Gaiman spilled the beans about this crime novel in an interview with King published in the Sunday Times in April. The book will only be available in paperback at first because King wants people to experience it as a physical book. Presumably there will eventually be an eBook, too. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Publisher Charles Ardai calls the it “a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book. It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time.  Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved.”

Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, originally slated for a January 2013 release, has been pushed back to give King more time to work on revisions. A new release date has not yet been announced, but you can hear King read the opening section on the audiobook version of The Wind through the Keyhole.

Part 1 of “In the Tall Grass,” a novella co-written with Joe Hill, was published in the June/July issue of Esquire, with the conclusion following in the August issue. It’s a nasty little story about what happens to people who unwisely choose to listen to the Canadian rock group Rush while traveling cross-country.

Movie update: The remake of Carrie is currently in production, with Chloë Grace Moretz in the starring role. Julianne Moore, Judy Greer and Portia Doubleday are also in the movie, which is directed by Kimberly Peirce. Justin Long is starring in a feature film adaptation of “The Ten o’Clock People,” directed by Tom Holland (The Langoliers, Thinner). Both are slated for 2013 releases. At Cannes, there were reports that “The Reach” and “A Good Marriage” would be turned into films, too, but there’s been no further news since then, nor has there been anything else about SyFy’s plans to turn The Eyes of the Dragon into a 4-hour TV movie. There are still rumblings about a 2-movie remake of It, too, but who knows if that project will take off or not.

King played with the Rock Bottom Remainders at their last-ever gigs in California recently. Before the shows, King said,  “A few years ago, Bruce Springsteen told us we weren’t bad, but not to try to get any better otherwise we’d just be another lousy band. After 20 years, we still meet his stringent requirements. For instance, while we all know what ‘stringent’ means, none of us have yet mastered an F chord.” Kathy Kamen Goldmark, who came up with the idea for the band, passed away shortly before these shows. You can find some clips of their performances on YouTube. Here’s an article about the band in the L.A. Times.

King will take to the stage at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, offering fans the chance to hear him read his work, ask him questions and listen to him discuss his passion for writing and his advice for aspiring authors on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.  See more about the event here.

Mark and Brian of KLOS hosted a wide-ranging interview with King recently You can listen to it here: Part 1 | Part 2.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County may make the move to Broadway. Director Susan V. Booth plans to workshop the play in New York in September to try to arrange financial backing. In case you missed it in the awesomeness that was NFtDZ #150, here is my review of the Premiere at FEARnet.

James Smythe, a writer for the UK newspaper The Guardian, has read every King book and is now reading them again and reviewing them along the way. If you’re interested in following along, his first post on Carrie can be found here.

Season 3 of Haven is currently filming in Nova Scotia. The SyFy original series, based on The Colorado Kid (loosely based, that is), returns with thirteen new episodes on September 21. Hmmm. There’s something special about that date. Now, what could it be?