Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Riding the Bullet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Riding the Bullet

Article excerpt


HAUNTED HEART: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF STEPHEN KING by Lisa Rogak (JR Books, [pounds sterling]16.99)


ACCORDING to Rick Hautala, a college contemporary, Stephen King's writing stood out from the crowd, even then: "He wasn't trying to be pretentious or artsy, he was writing real stories instead of precious little reminiscences". Hautala is just one of many people Lisa Rogak interviewed for this unauthorised biography of one of the most prolific and commercially successful writers alive, whose horror and sci-fi stories sell in their millions and are turned into films, yet who remains outside the literary establishment. Ask people if they've read a Stephen King novel and there's a good chance that they will turn up their nose.

Rogak, whose previous subjects include Barack Obama and Dan Brown, has sifted though the cuttings, interviews and reviews to produce this workmanlike, chronological account of the great man's life story, a supplement to his own fine memoir, On Writing, published in 2000.

The most formative influences on Stephen King's life and writing came early: his father Donald walked out on him, his mother and his adopted older brother when King was two years old, and the family existed in relative poverty, moving from place to place, while his mother took menial jobs and lived off relatives. She was a great story-teller, though, and King loved books.

Tall, awkward and seriously shortsighted, he went to the University of Maine at Orono to study English in 1966. There he started selling short stories to magazines and also met his future wife, Tabitha Spruce, who was from a modest Maine background too. The pair clicked from the start. She gave birth to their first child Naomi in 1970 and they married the following year, taking turns working shifts at a laundromat and Dunkin' Donuts to make ends meet. …

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