Taking The Stand: Front Matter

Education

Okay, I’m cheating. I’ve read quite a bit of this book, but I’m still going to break it down into digestible chunks for this series of posts. After all, this behemoth is 1,433 pages long. When I finish it will be the longest single book I’ve read and I’ve never been noted for my reading speed. It was only recently that I discovered that most people skim while reading fiction! Inconceivable. I’ve never skimmed a page a fiction in my life, which is why I prefer my books short and to the point. Is this a knock against King already? We’ll see.

Preface – Part 1:

King warns here that this is an expanded edition of a previously published book. There are parts that were cut that have returned, zombie-like, to the narrative. They add to it, he insists and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Clearly he’s never heard of required reading.

Preface – Part 2:

Now we get something interesting. Now we get theory. King elaborates on how the story is in the telling and therefore it is okay that he’s added 400 pages to the novel that were previously absent and yet the story stood without them. Using Hansel and Gretel as an example he shows us how a story is more than the bones of the plot it is hung upon.

Here I must agree. I use this example often with my students. You cannot simply recount the plot. You have to dive into it. Explore the characters and let things happen through their lens. I agree, but do I follow this advice? I’ve struggled with making my own writing about more than plot. I love plot. I love ideas. There’s a reason that Borges stood in for King on my survey of influential writers.

Clearly I have met my opposite in the guise of Stephen King. Whereas I strive only to add what details are necessary, he’ll cram in an extra 400 pages (?!) once he has the authority to do so. Should I be worried that my opposite is the most successful author of the last century? Time and future installments will tell.

Tune in next time when … we’ll actually get to talk about characters and plots and words on the page. What is King doing and why won’t you give me your money?

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