Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Unexpected and the Inevitable

Michael McDowell was one of 17 authors who contributed an essay to Kingdom of Fear: The World of Stephen King, edited by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller. McDowell's entry, "The Unexpected and the Inevitable," is a look at the rhythm of King's stories.

Additional authors included: Andrew M. Greeley, Robert Bloch, Bill Thompson, Ramsey Campbell, Whitley Strieber,  Leslie Fiedler, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, William F. Nolan, Stephen P. Brown, Don Herron, Chuck Miller, Ben P. Indick, Bernadette Lynn Bosky, Thomas F. Monteleone and Tim Underwood

"It was with some hesitation that I agreed to write about Stephen King's work. I was trained as an academic, with an eye towards analysis and criticism, but now I have only contempt for the sapping methods of literary "appreciation" taught in colleges and graduate schools. The idea of analyzing a volume of writing that I think very good seems unappealing and pointless. Increasingly, I find myself in the critical vein that either gushes, "Oh God it's great you've got to read it!" or moans, "Can you believe that anybody would publish this," or is silent from indifference. So that I think the best—and probably most helpful—reaction to King's work is a simple, "Oh God I've read everything, and I haunt the bookstores waiting for the next one."

An excerpt from "The Unexpected and the Inevitable" was later printed in the Stephen King newsletter Castle Rock in the April 1986 issue.

"Someone once asked me what I thought horror fiction did.  What its purpose was. (King is asked this question frequently as well. It is only a very little less annoying than "Where do you get your ideas?") I don't know what he stipulated as the purpose of horror fiction, but I replied that when I wrote horror fiction, I tried to take the improbable, the unimaginable, and the impossible, and make it seem not only possiblebut inevitable."

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