On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

Cover ImageFinished on 1-22-08, rating 5/5, non-fiction, pub. 2000

  My knowledge of Stephen King’s novels is limited.  I’ve read a few, listened to a few more on road trips with my husband, and seen some of the movies.  I usually enjoy them, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan.  So, I was justifiably surprised when I was totally charmed by this book and its author.

  The first half of this book is memoir full of stories of his youth and early writing successes.  There were stories of his first sale, for 25 cents to his mother, and his busy adolescence making a statement with his writing.  King moves onto adulthood, marriage, kids, a job he doesn’t enjoy and he doesn’t pull any punches.  This book is told with such honesty that you are drawn into King’s world.  His drug and alcohol abuse could have led to self-pity or delusions of grandeur, but it didn’t.  All of these snapshots of his life are told with rich detail, but with an understanding of just how much to tell.

  The second half is devoted to the craft of writing.  Having read much advice from established authors I know there as many ways to write a book as limbs on a tree (King loves simile and metaphor), and King gives his best, unapologetic nuggets of wisdom.  He doesn’t mince words, but they are told with humor and real-life experiences from his own prosperous writing career.  He also delves into what happened when he was hit by a van and was close to death.  The book comes full circle with his telling of the accident.

I loved this book.  I loved the mix of humor, truth, detail, and brevity.  I have been charmed by a horror writer and I’m not ashamed to admit it. 🙂