Happy 70th birthday, Stephen King!
Today, Thursday, September 21st, 2017 marks Stephen King’s 70th birthday. I think it’s fair to say that for many of us at Biff Bam Pop!, we wouldn’t be writing words regularly if not for the inspiration of King and his incredible work. To celebrate the monumental occasion, the writers of Biff Bam Pop! have banded together to share our favourite books from Stephen King’s catalogue, and say thank you to the man for all the nightmares.
Name: Andy Burns
Favourite Stephen King Book: The Stand
Why: The Stand is epic storytelling, full of wonderful characters and stunning set pieces. It was the first apocalyptic novel I can remember reading, and I was thoroughly gripped by the end of the world scenario King crafted. Though The Dark Tower as a whole is my favourite work by King, as a standalone novel, The Stand is the author at his finest. The Complete and Uncut version also contains my favourite King moment from any of his books – Stu Redman’s recollection of meeting the long dead Jim Morrison at a gas station. Happy birthday, Stephen King!
Name: Glenn Walker
Favourite Stephen King Book: The Stand
Why: It was his first magnum opus, his first truly epic novel, with a huge cast of characters – characters that on multiple readings became more and more real. Everyone in the book lived and breathed in my head as I read, and I followed them all from their lives in the old world to the reconstruction of the post-Captain Trips world. It was a tale of ultimate good and evil, introducing concepts like the Walkin’ Dude that would resonate with later works, and a story of survival and seduction, and at times unspeakable horror, touching on everything available to the writer at that moment. It’s not perfect. It was also the first of King’s disappointing cop-out endings, in my opinion, the rest of the book was so good I didn’t care. I love this book so much, it’s one of my top five favorite books ever, and I have revisited it dozens of times since first reading it in paperback fresh off the shelf. Like a good vinyl album (yeah, I’m that old), you play it so much, you have to replace it because it’s so worn down – I have been through three copies of The Stand, I love it that much.
Name: Dave Alexander
Favourite Stephen King Book: Skeleton Crew
Why: “The horrors of the Inquisition are nothing compared to the fates your mind can imagine for your loved ones,” we’re told by David Drayton, narrator of Stephen King’s “The Mist,” the first chiller in the Skeleton Crew anthology and my favourite story in the author’s impressive canon. In the briefest sense, the tale is an ideal synthesis of Lovecraft and Romero that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The inter-dimensional monsters are absolutely terrifying and the author reveals just enough to
keep ’em that way – and just when you think they can’t get any worse, some fresh horror is visited upon the townies held up in the local grocery store. Yet, despite the lethal creepy crawlies and tentacled predators, people remain the biggest monsters in a Night of the Living Dead-style siege scenario that reveals the absolute murderous worst (and sometimes heroic best) of humanity. The pacing, action and mystery of it all keeps me hooked every time I read it. Style-wise, King does what any masterfully horror storyteller should do and gives readers just enough information – skin-crawling detail mixed with a tense vagueness – that our imaginations fill in the rest with something truly awful, in the process making us active participants in the tale. He utilizes that approach right to the finale, staying true to the story’s title. Mist itself represents a literal grey area – the unknown – and the ambiguous ending here is just perfect. They screwed that up in the otherwise fantastic film adaptation, but, really, it only makes the source material that much more special.
Name: Tim Murr
Favorite Stephen King Book: Pet Semetary
Why: After three years as a King devotee, I got to Pet Semetary in 8th grade. He had freaked me out many times, but Pet Semetary was the first one to terrify me. At the point where Louis is trying to bring his dead son Gage to the burial ground my hands were shaking. I’d never been so scared by any book.
Name: Mat Langford
Favourite Stephen King Book: ‘Salems Lot
Why: My favourite book of King’s will always be ‘Salem’s Lot. It is still, to this day, one of the scariest books in my collection. The age at which I read it, combined with the fact that it was the first work that I had seen of his, resulted in this unsuspecting kid being taken down a completely terrifying journey of vampire children, haunted houses and ultimately more death than I should probably have been introduced to at that time. The way King creates an atmosphere that draws you so deeply into his worlds really establishes a visceral connection between both you and the characters on the page. ‘Salem’s Lot started what would turn into a lifelong love of King and his work.
Name: Luke Sneyd
Favourite Stephen King Book: The Shining
Why: Like a bunch of his earlier novels, I saw the movie first, then came to the book later. (I don’t care if SK hates it. The movie is amazing.) Book or film, it’s a brilliant take on the haunted house, taking in alcoholism and abuse for good measure. Having spent plenty of time with an out of control parent, The Shining is bang-on in its portrayal of the oppressive weight a seriously iIl person can bring to a family. It’s imagery and story just burn themselves into your brain. Unforgettable and unforgivable, always a riveting combo in Mr. King’s chilly hands.
Name: JP Fallavollita
Favourite Stephen King Book: Cycle of the Werewolf
Why: I was twelve years old when I first read Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. It was the summer of 1985. Summers spent out of school were the time to get into all sorts of mischief with friends and that mischief included watching horror films and reading and sharing horror-themed books and comics. Silver Bullet, the film version of King’s “Werewolf” short story, was being released later that year, and I was intrigued. Already a fan of comic books, I was delighted by the fact that Cycle of the Werewolf was illustrated by the legendary horror artist of Swamp Thing (and other creepy tales), Bernie Wrightson, and it made me warm and fuzzy to realize that Stephen King, like me, was a fan of the comic book genre, too. Cycle of the Werewolf weaves two important King elements that make me such a fan of his work: horrific monsters hidden in everyday life, and the children that believe in them, battle against them, triumph over them. It’s a great tale, one that you should experience if you haven’t done so already, best read during any lunar cycle. Happy 70th birthday, Mr. King! May your own cycle of writing suspenseful, horrific, terrifying, and always human stories continue ad infinitum.