Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Review of Paul Simpson's "A Brief Guide to Stephen King"

For every good book about the works of Stephen King, there are probably two or three mediocre ones.  

Which brings us to today's review:





This is one of the mediocre ones.  Not bad, mind you; just mediocre.  Simpson undertakes an overview of King's entire oeuvre, from books to movies to other ephemera.  If you are the kind of person who likes Stephen King's books but knows absolutely nothing about him, and also has no ability to go online and use Google to find things out for yourself, then this is just the book for you.  You will learn plenty here.

Most King fans, however, will already know the vast majority of this stuff, I suspect.  I shouldn't say "most."  I should say "many" instead.  But it is a near-certainty that many King fans will already know virtually everything that Simpson has to say here.  Those who don't can get on Wikipedia, or on one of any number of King-centric websites (up to and including this one), and get most of the same info without having to spend money on a book.


All of which makes me wonder who, exactly, A Brief Guide to Stephen King is intended for.  Who is the target audience for this book?  Hardcore King fans?  Probably not.  King newbies?  Maybe.  Collectors who feel the need to buy everything associated with King's work?  That's a possibility.

I suspect the real audience is an audience of one: Paul Simpson.  This strikes me as being the sort of book that somebody writes simply because they have a lot of passion for a subject and feel like it would be a very cool thing if there was a book about said subject that had their own name on it as author.  There are certainly worse reasons to write books.  At least one Duck Dynasty cast member has a book out, for Christ's sake.

Simpson is undeniably a King fan; that fandom comes dripping off of nearly every page.  He isn't immune to error, though; in referring to the unfinished King novel The Cannibals (which served as a sort of forerunner to Under the Dome), Simpson refers to it on multiple occasions as The Cannibalists.  Errors like that are difficult for me to overlook.  There are very few of them in this book, luckily; but that particular one rubbed me the wrong way.

The book is a fairly inexpensive acquisition, and Simpson's love for the subject makes it an easy read.  If that's all you want out of it, it might be worth picking up.  Me, I put in my bathroom and used it as poop-time reading, for which there is always a need.  If you need something to read in small, manageable increments while things are falling out of your anus, then this might well be something worth your money and time.

Otherwise, there is nothing here that hasn't been done elsewhere many, many times, usually to much deeper and more satisfying effect.

(By the way, I hope someday to publish my own series -- yes, "series"! -- of books about King's work.  I look forward to, when and if that happens, there being some dick with a blog who shrugs them off as being worth reading while defecating.  What a thrill that will be.)

8 comments:

  1. Poop-time Reading is a respectable genre. I think I may eventually make a reading playlist on a Kindle and just make it a permanent addition to the commode.

    The accumulation of a persistent error like that (Cannibalists) drives me crazy. (Especially when I discover this in my own writing and correspondence.)

    I think I'll give this one a pass.

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    1. Oh, we all do things like that (the errors, I mean; not the pooping -- only men do that). However, errors that are acceptable in an email or a blog post or whatever are NOT acceptable (to me, at least) in a professionally-published book. An occasional typo is something I can look past; getting a title flat wrong is not.

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  2. I felt that way about Blood In Your Ears - Kevin Quigley I'm not really sure what the point of it was. Since I collect the audio versions mainly so I can listen to them it is nice to have a reminder of what was actually made so I'm not looking for an audio version that doesn't exist but other than that there was a little history and a little opinion but very little else. Hopefully he can expand on that book someday.
    You should invest in some Bathroom Readers Bryant!
    -mike

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  3. I LOVED blood in your ears. It had good information on audio editions of The Mist.

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    1. I'd like to get a copy of that at some point. It would make for a good reference guide if nothing else.

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    2. I bought the book bc of your interview David, it's definitely worth having.
      I actually found a decent version of the Muller Skeleton Crew on youtube but it didnt have the Mist. I thought that odd.
      -mike

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    3. That Muller "Mist" is hard to come by. It wasn't even available via torrent last time I checked, and if things aren't torrentable tor YouTube-able hese days they practically don't even exist.

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