Dear Stephen: A Love Letter to a Horror Master

Dear Stephen,

Carrie White was my first. I met her midway through high school, when I was also an awkward, angry teenager. She intrigued me with her pitiful self, her inability to stick up for herself against the mean girls and mean boys and abusive mother—but I also felt a deep sympathy and anger at the way those around her let her down. My tolerance for bullying is nonexistent, and every time I reread, I have to talk myself down from a rage cliff. There may be an element of the supernatural within the novel, but of all the books of yours I’ve read thus far, Carrie feels the most real.

I’ve been an avid fan ever since—though not quite to the Annie Wilkes level, thank goodness—even if I’m not the fastest. Sure, they’re not perfect novels (is there even such a thing?), but they’re damn fine entertainment.

Pennywise is my most recent.

I was, for the first time in these past nine years, driven to actual fear by one of your books: It. I spent a portion of the summer alone in my house, and in my own infinite wisdom I read the book most nights before bed, with only my fat oaf of a dog as protection, so as I’d shut the lights off and snuggle into the blankets, it was easy for my imagination to run wild. I couldn’t count the number of nights I would get up to double and triple check the locks on the doors.

It appeals to my coming-of-age cravings, the constant need I have to dive into the lives of adolescents, which I can only assume is a result of my total anxiety over my own adulthood. It takes me deep into that summer of 1958 when the Losers Club lived to tell their tell—but never did, and rightly so; who would believe this rag-tag group of pals? “They’re only telling tales and having fun,” the adults would say. And I would fear for every one of them as they drew closer to the answers and to It.

It’s masterful, that crafting of a character most commonly known only as It throughout the book. Most people, fan or not, would recognize Pennywise, but few—including myself—realize that he’s only one face of the fearsome creation lurking throughout the novel. It’s clever and even somewhat amusing to give something as grand and terrifying a name so simple. It’s exactly what you could expect from a group of eleven year olds.

My Stephen King collection is small in relation to your lengthy resume, but I can only hope it will keep growing with each year. Maybe someday I’ll even catch up.

Your Constant Reader,

February 6, 2017
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  • Haha I would definitely double and triple check my locks if I was reading Stephen King alone at home! I’ve never read one of this books because I’m a big ole chicken, but I have seen movies and miniseries based on his books and I’m definitely scarred for life! The miniseries It is terrifying!

    • The IT miniseries is one of the better adaptations I’ve seen! Although I am on the edge of my seat for the new film version this year. I have very good feelings about it. If you’re hesitant about the true horror, I would definitely recommend giving the Different Seasons collection a try. It’s the one with the stories that Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption are based on, and I really wouldn’t classify them as scary. (Though still very bizarre at times.)

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