Monday, December 20, 2010

Desperation (or why I don't read Stephen King)

I started reading Desperation by Stephen King. Within a few pages, I was reminded of why I had stopped reading his books. Why would I want to fill my mind with such ugliness? I understand that depravity sells, but come on!

I first read King when I was a teenager. I read everything he published. I even plunked down money for hardback copies! However, at some point in my life, likely when I became a father, I realized that I was tiring of his same old stuff. I eventually found myself repulsed with his material. I would compare the beauty and peace of my life with Carla and the boys and try to match that with the dark ugliness his writing invoked and it just didn't work.

I explored other genres and began to enjoy mysteries. Authors like James Patterson, J.A. Jance were enjoyable for a while, but they slipped into depravity as well, so I had to move on. Frank Peretti and John Grisham were able to explore the darker side of human nature without sinking to the dark depths of debasement. McMurtry and Hillerman kept me entertained, played around with conflicts, but didn't glorify the nastiness.

Lately, I have sought fiction refuge in some of the classics - Zane Grey, John Steinbeck, O. Henry and in teen books, even Harry Potter and Twilight. All can and do take on the darker and uglier side, without becoming decadent and celebrating the bad.

Unfortunately, Stephen King has to write what sells. It is a commentary on our society that the perversions he writes of are what people buy. I need a break from modern fiction. Bring on Riders of the Purple Sage!