Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, by Lisa Rogak

(hb; 2008: biography)

From the inside flap:

"One of the most prolific and popular authors today, Stephen King has become part of pop-culture history. But who is the man behind those tales of horror, grief, and the supernatural? Where do those ideas come from? And what drives him to keep writing at a breakneck pace after a thirty-year career? In this unauthorized biography, Lisa Rogak reveals the troubled background and lifelong fears that inspire one of the twentieth century's most influential authors.

"King's origins were inauspicious at best. His impoverished childhood in rural Maine and early marriage hardly spelled out the likelihood of a blossoming literary career. but his unflagging work ethic and a ceaseless flow of ideas put him on the path to success. It came in a flash, and the side effects of sudden stardom and seemingly unlimited wealth soon threatened to destroy his work and, worse, his life. But he survived and has since continued to write at a level of originality few authors could hope to match.

"Despite his dark and disturbing work, Stephen King has become revered by critics and his countless fans as an all-American voice more akin to Mark Twain than H.P. Lovecraft. Haunted Heart chronicles his story, revealing the character of a man who has created some of the most memorable -- and frightening -- stories found in literature today."


Balanced, entertaining bio about a man whose name is, for many, synonymous with icky terror.

Normally, I'm wary of any bio that's written about an author who's still and alive and publishing, but Rogak, via her facts and interviews, shows King as a flesh-and-zombie-shake man, with demons (father abandonment issues, drug addiction) who still managed -- and manages -- to keep his priorities straight: writing, and taking care of his family (longtime wife Tabitha, daughter Naomi, and sons Joe and Owen).

Notable, portrait-supportive interviews with friends and family include: Peter Straub (who, among his books, co-authored The Talisman and Black House with King), Bev Vincent, and Rick Hautala (a consistently exemplary author and college friend of King's).

Good read, this. I'm not a big fan of most of Stephen King's post-mid-Eighties books. As a reader and writer, I'm a "minimalist," not a "maximalist" (phrases King used in his non-fiction book, On Writing). However, I've long admired what he's done, as a man and a writer, and this confirmed my feelings on the man, and his persona.

Check this out.

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