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Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft    by Stephen King order for
Stephen King On Writing
by Stephen King
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Marian Powell

I am not a Stephen King fan. However, this book is very different from his usual and I highly recommend it to both fans of the author and those new to his work. The first third of On Writing is an utterly fascinating account of the author's life. There is no doubt that he had a difficult youth, raised in poverty by a struggling single mother. Instead of complaining, he makes it clear how much his childhood enriched him and gave him material for his writing. Through it all there runs a tone of good humor, a sense of adventure and an abiding respect for King's mother. I think it's no accident that he made a happy marriage. As an adult, he worked at one menial job after another to support his family and then used those experiences in his fiction. It wasn't until Stephen King's fourth novel, Carrie, that he was suddenly catapulted to success and since then he's been continuously on bestseller lists.

King wraps up his autobiography with a brief account of the rest of his career up to the present, including his problems with addiction. The next section, entitled Toolbox, is the author's advice to writers, indicating what they need in their toolbox. His advice is sound and well-written and to the point. He has nothing new to say about how to be a writer but King puts the advice in commonsense terms. Then he returns to the memoir, bringing the reader up to the present. Soon after he began writing this book, he was involved in a terrible accident. While out on his daily walk, he was run down by a careless driver and almost killed. The last thirty pages are devoted to memories of the accident, King's slow recovery and his return to writing with the help of his wife. I recommend Stephen King On Writing. By the end, you do not feel that you read an autobiography or a how-to book on writing, but rather that you just had a good visit with an interesting and likeable person.

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