Stephen King: America's Storyteller

Stephen King: America's Storyteller

Stephen King: America's Storyteller

Stephen King: America's Storyteller


This analysis of the work of Stephen King explores the distinctly American fears and foibles that King has celebrated, condemned, and generally examined in the course of his wildly successful career.

• Presents separate chapters on major works of Stephen King, including The Shining, The Stand, It, Dolores Claiborne, and The Dark Tower

• Includes a chronology of Stephen King's life and 40-year career

• Offers a concluding interview with Stephen King


This book undertakes the intriguing task of wrestling with several imposing questions. How do we account for Stephen King’s enormous success both on best-seller lists and in movie theaters in light of a body of work that is so often critical of American life—its institutions, gender myths and relationships, and small-town communities? How do we explain the phenomenon of Stephen King, who is, on the one hand, an embodiment of the Horatio Alger story, rising from obscure poverty to the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans, and, on the other hand, a politically subversive writer? Is Stephen King merely another popular purveyor of horror—a hack, as some critics have insisted for years—or does he have something important to say about America, its past and its future direction? Is the culture that has embraced Stephen King as America’s Storyteller, transforming him into arguably the most popular writer in history, reading him carefully enough?

Over the past four decades, Stephen King’s movies and books have made him one of the most recognizable names on the planet. Certainly part of his popularity comes from his visualization of the dark side, feeding the Western world’s postmodern fascination with indulging Gothic expressions in music and art. King’s narratives, however, are also associated with describing very particular elements of America—its positive and negative group dynamics, its post-Vietnam identity, New England as a distinct regional place, to mention a few—especially for people reading them in other countries. Ten years ago, I was riding in a train from Paris to Augsburg, Germany. I shared the car with twenty or so high school students from Munich returning from a week spent touring the City of Light.

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