Lorne Dixon has put together an awesome 30 year anniversary tribute to Stephen King’s masterpiece of dark fantasy, The Stand — called “What a Long, Strange Captain Trips: The Stand Turns Thirty” — which you should go read over at the new November issue of the online magazine, Nossa Morte. There’s some great reflections and anecdotes about the book from a bevvy of writers: find out about Kathe Koja’s early fan letter to King, Jeff Strand’s relationship to long-long stories, and Rick Hautala’s theft (and subsequent return) of the original manuscript…on ugly orange paper!
Here’s part of what I had to say in my own tribute to King:
You know what I like about The Stand? The brilliant way King shows the contagion spreading right from the beginning. Right away, he taps into the fear of our fellow man, the reality that we are really a threat to each other, the way we are powerless over some things … and yet at the same time he concentrates on character, on that very same “fellow man” that we fear, as if the only consolation against each other is … each other. The stand is a case study in character, and the book taught me a lot about writing….
1) I own a German paperback edition of The Stand! I always thought that if I could challenge myself to read the entire thing, using the original of King’s book as a helping hand, that I’d master the German language. Right. It’s a bazillion pages long. Maybe I should stick to Max & Moritz.
2) In my “Horror & Suspense Writing” class last year, I asked students to bring to class a picture that to them embodied their worst nightmare. One of the students brought the cover image (above) from The Stand. I challenged them on this: “Is that really YOUR nightmare, or is it one given to you by Stephen King?” His answer? “Both.”
3) I remember thinking back “in the day” that King’s re-release of an unexpurgated edition of this epic novel, “Complete & Uncut,” was a silly marketing gimmick — and a sign of the lack of editorial control over his work as a ‘brand name’. Now I realize that it is a sign of King’s resistance to censorship, authorial vision, and his sense of literary (not commercial) value. The re-release of this novel in unexpurgated form also is probably the most populist work of literary “restoration” ever, and “stands” as a testament to the level of literary achievement possible in the realm of popular fiction.
4) I was bored by the TV mini-series. Still am.