I read this book when it was released in 1975. I was 13 and in 7th Grade English class. We could read any book we wanted and write a report. I chose “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King. It was new. I liked the cover. It looked interesting. I had never heard of Stephen King.
Ms. Henderson came around to each desk and asked to see our book. When she saw mine, she gasped, “Claudia!” (the roll always listed your first name, which no one except my namesake grandmother ever used). The whole class turned around to see what book pleased Ms. Henderson so much that she bellowed. I turned red. But I also became a fan of horror fiction and “that weird girl” for the next several years. (The bookish girl in braces, glasses, feet larger than her skinny legs — think of a Sandpiper in glasses and you’ve pretty much got it.) Not popular, but I could diagram the hell out of a sentence.
Anyway, back to Mr. King. I read this book, went on with my life, and never forgot it. It has haunted me all these 40 (Forty!) years. Yes, Mr. King has cranked out a plethora of bestselling novels, screenplays, films, and TV shows. I am a fan. But I cannot help but yearn for my first. So this weekend I plopped down $7.99 to pick up a paperback copy of my old friend. The Barnes & Noble associate (who was also of a certain age) said “Misery” was his favorite SK novel (which went on to be an oscar-winning movie for Kathy Bates). Again, so much Stephen King, so little time.
So without further adieu, I am diving into the past. Mine and Stephen King’s. I wonder what will stick with me now, at age 53, that I missed at age 13 and vice-versa. It is almost a social study in itself. After cracking the cover and flipping through a few pages, Mr. King is indeed the wordsmith I remember. The story rolls off the page. (I burned my dinner rolls having a browse.) I will be otherwise engaged when I have a moment to steal away with my book. I still like the paperback book, turning the page, smelling the ink. I have two Kindles but again, I like what I like. And I intend to take an inky paperback smudgy print bath until the tome is done. I will report back with reflections and any new revelations. Forty years later. I did get new glasses since then. But did I get jaded or will I sleep with the lights on after Danny Glick floats outside the window? Stay tuned.