Brian James Freeman (ed.), Reading Stephen King

I remember being eleven years old, clutching a shiny new paperback copy of The Shining. (Yes, my parents bought it for me. They were cool with me reading anything, as long as I was reading.) These essays may be preaching to the choir, but that’s alright. I’m digging the sermon. This collection has the vibe of King’s Danse Macabre – a feeling that you’re not really reading, you’re having a mind conversation.

Stewart O’Nan’s opening salvo, “Sometimes You Go Back”, encapsulates everything I love about “Early King”. (It’s no secret that The Stand is my all time favorite book.) O’Nan gives words to the feeling I feel whenever I reread King, or revisit *any* favorite haunt of mine. The comfort of coming home. The house on the hill may be creepy and the sewers are definitely not safe, but it’s home.  The essays here include Richard Chizmar on the truth of King’s stories, Stephen Spignesi deconstructing King’s ability to draw us into his works and what it means to write, and Tony Magistrale on King being “subpar” – HAH! – in most literary and academic groups. But there’s more; Frank Darabont, Clive Barker, Mick Garris and so many more pay tribute to the King. My only complaint? I wish there was a brief sentence or two intro at the start of each essay. Just so I can know the essayist a bit. Because I’m lazy and hate to Google when I read something I’m sucked into.

I have to admit I took this book everywhere. The gym, restaurants, my bathroom… And I ain’t ashamed. Much like King’s work, I was hooked.

(Cemetery Dance, 2017)


Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now. She believes that bluegrass is not hell in music form, and that beer is better when it’s a nitro pour. Besides GMR, you can find her at Atomic Fangirl,, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.