It by Stephen King, 2/5
Stephen King is more than a popular writer, he’s a respected one, so I was excited to read one of his most famous books despite hating the 2017 film it inspired. Initially, I was impressed by the length and density of the plot, which caused me to forget characters’ names and refer back to previous chapters with an urgency not felt since I read War and Peace. However, after a while all the details and increasingly gross events lost their novelty and the thread of the story felt more like a patchwork of cliches. That same scattered aesthetic and uneven tone is what put me off the 2017 film version, which felt like 2 hours and 15 minutes of movie trailers for every horror film made in the last 40 years. I didn’t really experience any feelings of “horror” until near the end of the book, when I encountered King’s casual description of ritual group sex between children. At that point, I lost respect for the author and will likely not read anything else by him.
Why I read it: I was looking for something entertaining to read on the plane during our Scotland trip and while browsing in Half Price Books, realized I’d never read anything by Stephen King before.
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, 4/5
This book organises all of Poe’s writings into just a few convenient categories: Tales of Mystery and Horror, Humor and Satire, Flights and Fantasies, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and The Poems. Of these, I think the first contains the best examples of Poe’s genre-defining style, including one of the first detective stories ever written (predating the strikingly similar Sherlock Holmes stories by 46 years). The scary tales tend to be short on plot but ooze with atmosphere–the effect is almost more pictorial than literary. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book very much and a lot of the stories felt pointless or tedious to read, but I respect Poe’s groundbreaking literary influence.
[Why I read it: I wanted to be familiar with more of Poe’s works than just The Raven.]