If you ask me, one author, that I have struggled most, I would quite easily name Stephen King as one. Nevertheless, I did a little research to understand my difficulty with Stephen King and what I found would confuse me further.
Why Indian don’t fancy Stephen King and how can they read his novels
As I went through with the community of Indian readers, I couldn’t find one who fancy Stephen King as their favorite author. I couldn’t find Stephen King mentioned anywhere or his novels avidly read. I am sure there would be Indian fans but it would be in minority, while majority of fans in India are for Rowling, Archer, Sidney sheldon, etc.
So what is the reason that one of the best seller of our era has no finding in India? Taking my ten year journey as example, let me tell you how much I struggled with Stephen King, how many times I tried to complete his novels but eventually dropped them and finally let me give you solution to this problem.
Stephen King may be one of the most well known Writer/Author and when I was looking for authors (whose books I can read) his name often came to me as highly recommended on online forums. So as a reader I was very much interested to read his novels.
I believe somewhere around 2005-2006 I gave my first shot to his novels. I am sure it was either Gunslinger or Talisman because I remember dropping both the novels in few chapters; For Talisman the fate was quite early. Few pages.
I was disheartened but soon realize that he is not much read by many of Indian readers. I couldn’t comprehend the reason for it at that time. But as I completed his other novel “The Eye of the Dragon” I thought that’s it. Earlier attempts were just mist hit, may be they were not his good work and I may able to read his other novels. But I was so wrong.
Around 2008, I tried to read Gunslinger again. I was beaming with confidence at the start of the novel. I finally completed the novel but it took me at least a week. I struggled a lot. It was very boring and lacked direction. I failed to understand the popularity of Dark Tower series (going with the first book).
Though I failed to completely understand reasons behind why I enjoyed reading The Eye of the Dragon but not Gunslinger. I had my first understanding regarding Stephen King novels. His writing in Gunslinger had an unorthodox tone with non linear writing. The fans would know that King believe in developing his stories on inspiration and develop his characters as story unfolds. He is not a planner, he doesn’t outline and he doesn’t know how his novels is going to end. This makes his novel extremely slow and boring. The impatience and new reader of king like me could find that difficult and hard to keep up with it. Nevertheless I continued my journey as I pursued his next novel.
You must understand my reason for persistence here. I had watched his adapted movies and they were extremely good. Also during 2011 his novel 11/22/63 was creating lot of excitement and I wanted to give it my next try. But I realized with the news that this novel have linkage with his other novel. So I decided to stop by his novels from start. So I choose Carrie.
With Carrie I dropped it after few chapters. It was horribly childish. But with this I realized something very important.
With the Eye of the Dragon, novel was fantasy. So world created by King even mysterious to me was equally mysterious to every-one. so King had to generalize his writing for the benefit of every one. But with his other novels, he used more local tone in his novels. His novels are filled with language which could majorly appreciated by people around him. Most of the time his references, examples, tone were completely unfamiliar to Indian Audience. It’s like having your local accent and life, which you can’t understand by people not around you unless they are part of it. His writing had pop music or Jazz tone which could enjoyed by only Pop or Jazz fans. King didn’t generalize his writing in this novels as he did with The Eye of the Dragon. It was not dealer breaker for me I understood, just understanding helped to solve the problem.
I knew till now that his novels have unnecessary explanations and details which for story has no direct relevance. No offense, as there are lot of character development or plot development, but it is done in crude way. It is felt like Monologue dialogue without any fun. I love his stories and inventions, but I am never fan of his diverting details from main story. It is known he has a style of developing stories as he wrote them, so technically there are possibility of involving irrelevant things. I don’t require so detail imagination to enjoy the novel. This combine with his foreign accent, makes reader like me go bore with death. So I found one solution for it.
I started listening his stories. Yes! Audio is literally a fantastic solution to read vast details without paying much attention to it. So this how I read his next three Dark Tower books, Drawing of the three, The Waste Land and Wizard & Glass. With Audio, it helped to understood few things.
1. It helped to skip the details without losing the main story. And in Stephen King books you can skip pages and couldn’t lose the way.
2. Audio also helped me to adapt to his writing. The voice of the narrator become voice of the characters. Even when I read his future novels, I could relate to the characters and it helped to read his novels.
3. But most important thing is that Audio helped to gain confidence with Stephen King novels. Till now I was always felt that Stephen King is not my type of author. There are always a author you can’t related to or enjoy his books. Like when you grow up you don’t relate to your child-hood favorites comics or novel . It is almost like a local story in newspaper but you don’t feel connection to story and you skip it.
Recently I completed his Dark Tower series and I finished it with reading the novel rather than audio. I know which part I could skip, which would be boring detail and etc. I can now read his other novels and added Stephen King to my default ” To read” list.My journey if not like Roland Deschain journey of Dark Tower Series but quite challenging as I completed one novel then another and reached to the end of Dark Tower.
So question to ask yourself if you want to read King novels? If you have read popular classic novels and if you are able to enjoy and read it quite easily then you will find it quite easy to read Stephen King novel but if not then you are with me and should try for Audio.