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The Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror

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The Stephen King Companion is an authoritative look at King's personal life and professional career, from Carrie to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. King expert George Beahm, who has published extensively about Maine's main writer, is your seasoned guide to the imaginative world of Stephen King, covering his varied and prodigious output: juvenalia, short fiction, limited edition b The Stephen King Companion is an authoritative look at King's personal life and professional career, from Carrie to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. King expert George Beahm, who has published extensively about Maine's main writer, is your seasoned guide to the imaginative world of Stephen King, covering his varied and prodigious output: juvenalia, short fiction, limited edition books, bestselling novels, and film adaptations. The book is also profusely illustrated with nearly 200 photos, color illustrations by celebrated "Dark Tower" artist Michael Whelan, and black-and-white drawings by Maine artist Glenn Chadbourne. Supplemented with interviews with friends, colleagues, and mentors who knew King well, this book looks at his formative years in Durham, where he began writing fiction as a young teen, his college years in the turbulent sixties, his struggles with early poverty, working full-time as an English teacher while writing part-time, the long road to the publication of his first novel, Carrie, and the dozens of bestselling books and major screen adaptations that followed. For fans old and new, The Stephen King Companion is a comprehensive look at America's best-loved bogeyman.


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The Stephen King Companion is an authoritative look at King's personal life and professional career, from Carrie to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. King expert George Beahm, who has published extensively about Maine's main writer, is your seasoned guide to the imaginative world of Stephen King, covering his varied and prodigious output: juvenalia, short fiction, limited edition b The Stephen King Companion is an authoritative look at King's personal life and professional career, from Carrie to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. King expert George Beahm, who has published extensively about Maine's main writer, is your seasoned guide to the imaginative world of Stephen King, covering his varied and prodigious output: juvenalia, short fiction, limited edition books, bestselling novels, and film adaptations. The book is also profusely illustrated with nearly 200 photos, color illustrations by celebrated "Dark Tower" artist Michael Whelan, and black-and-white drawings by Maine artist Glenn Chadbourne. Supplemented with interviews with friends, colleagues, and mentors who knew King well, this book looks at his formative years in Durham, where he began writing fiction as a young teen, his college years in the turbulent sixties, his struggles with early poverty, working full-time as an English teacher while writing part-time, the long road to the publication of his first novel, Carrie, and the dozens of bestselling books and major screen adaptations that followed. For fans old and new, The Stephen King Companion is a comprehensive look at America's best-loved bogeyman.

30 review for The Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    This is a great book for anyone with the slightest interest in Stephen King. Of course, you will find writeups of all of his works, up to that point, which include synopses, commentary, and back stories. But, that takes up only 150 or so pages of the 365. The rest of the book is filled with what you might expect, or hope to find, in a book of this sort: a brief history of his road to success; articles by others about him, including one by Clive Barker; a tour of the Victorian mansion that is his This is a great book for anyone with the slightest interest in Stephen King. Of course, you will find writeups of all of his works, up to that point, which include synopses, commentary, and back stories. But, that takes up only 150 or so pages of the 365. The rest of the book is filled with what you might expect, or hope to find, in a book of this sort: a brief history of his road to success; articles by others about him, including one by Clive Barker; a tour of the Victorian mansion that is his winter home; writeups about the conventions and newsletters dedicated to King; and much more. Included is the transcript of the talk he gave for the benefit of the Virginia Beach Friends of the Library, in which he spoke about banned books and censorship, to which several of his own fell victim. My favorite parts are the interviews reprinted here, including the full Playboy Magazine interview from 1983, where the interviewer, Eric Norden, spent 2 weeks with King. Taking up 27 pages, this interview delves deep into Stephen King the man, and Stephen King the writer. Another excellent interview included here is one with writer Harlan Ellison, conducted in 1989, by George Beahm and Howard Wornom (specifically for inclusion in this book, I’m guessing). Anyone familiar with Ellison knows he is one tough critic. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and though he praises King heavily, he readily identifies what he feels are King’s weak points, including the one complaint I hear most, from other readers, that he pads his books with a lot of unnecessary verbiage. Ellison says, “. . . I can’t think of any King novels, with the possible exception of “It,” or the two “Dark Tower” books, that could not have been told just as well as a novella.” I am in no manner a Stephen King fanatic. While I eagerly devoured every new release up until “The Tommyknockers,” after that klunker, I picked up his books only sporadically. Still, even if I find some of his books a chore to complete, I continue to appreciate his talent and what he has accomplished over the past 40-odd years. This edition the first one from 1989. I would like to get a current edition, and read all the later material that has been added.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Todd Bristow

    I wanted a book of minutiae and, boy did I get it! What is different about this book vs others on King is that it barely touches upon his works themselves and spends more time with history: his non-book endeavors, how his works have been perceived over time, artists influenced by, and attached academia. I was absolutely riveted. Even those who think they knew all about King (like myself) will come away a more well rounded fan.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jasmin Mohd-zain

    Wow..what a wonderful homage to SK! Beahm covered such diverse topics on SK, his family, all his books, movies and all the little known story about him up till 2015. I went down memory lane with some of his works and details given by Beahm. It was such a joy to have my love for SK work re-kindled ..no...strenghtened since i had left SK's work for a while in search of new authors to fill my reading itch. Very well done Mr Beahm. If you update this book I'm gonna get the next one for sure because i Wow..what a wonderful homage to SK! Beahm covered such diverse topics on SK, his family, all his books, movies and all the little known story about him up till 2015. I went down memory lane with some of his works and details given by Beahm. It was such a joy to have my love for SK work re-kindled ..no...strenghtened since i had left SK's work for a while in search of new authors to fill my reading itch. Very well done Mr Beahm. If you update this book I'm gonna get the next one for sure because i will remain the Constant Reader ❤

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen from Quebec :0)

    This is my new favorite companion piece! Wow! I am going to hang onto this like a cherished textbook! If you're a King fan, like me, you simply need this book. If you are one of his Constant Readers, you'd be incomplete without it, man. Amazing. As an English teacher, I often read Carrie with a group of students, and this is what caused me to wonder about *this* book. I not only have new resources to go into the classroom with, I have a greater appreciation of King's entire universe. This is my new favorite companion piece! Wow! I am going to hang onto this like a cherished textbook! If you're a King fan, like me, you simply need this book. If you are one of his Constant Readers, you'd be incomplete without it, man. Amazing. As an English teacher, I often read Carrie with a group of students, and this is what caused me to wonder about *this* book. I not only have new resources to go into the classroom with, I have a greater appreciation of King's entire universe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Smith

    Enjoyed insights into King's self and the trajectory of his career. Enjoyed insights into King's self and the trajectory of his career.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Toolshed

    As a long-time King reader, I did not find that much new or useful in this book apart from some newspaper or interview tidbits (and then some things which I find insubstantial altogether) but that's not the biographer's fault. All in all, it's a good summary, albeit it felt to me sometimes that Beahm was forcefully trying to praise some of the weaker King's works or justify their merit, at the same time taking every opportunity to bash or riddicule the so-called "literary" circles which do not g As a long-time King reader, I did not find that much new or useful in this book apart from some newspaper or interview tidbits (and then some things which I find insubstantial altogether) but that's not the biographer's fault. All in all, it's a good summary, albeit it felt to me sometimes that Beahm was forcefully trying to praise some of the weaker King's works or justify their merit, at the same time taking every opportunity to bash or riddicule the so-called "literary" circles which do not give poor Stephen the credit he deserves (funnily enough, Beahm emphasizes those exact values in King's books that are typical for "literary" fiction in order to prove... what? That King belongs right up there with the people Beahm seems to despise?). The other thing I found tiring is that it's WAY too detailed - unless you're such a King buff that you need to know what size shoes he's wearing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Parcell

    It was an OK read. I was expecting a bit more insight in to the man and it was a bit dated.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Burley

    Excellent, and eminently readable, resource for King fans. I burned through it much faster than I anticipated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judd

    I pulled this book off of a bargain rack and as it is a first edition, I must be clear that that is the edition of book I am reviewing. It looks as though it's been re-released with a few hundred pages more and a couple more decades worth of work. Maybe that book is better, worse, on par, but for the sake of this review, I am talking exclusively about the 1989 release. When the book shines it really shines. There are a few interviews of King that were featured back in the early 80s when he was ju I pulled this book off of a bargain rack and as it is a first edition, I must be clear that that is the edition of book I am reviewing. It looks as though it's been re-released with a few hundred pages more and a couple more decades worth of work. Maybe that book is better, worse, on par, but for the sake of this review, I am talking exclusively about the 1989 release. When the book shines it really shines. There are a few interviews of King that were featured back in the early 80s when he was just coming into the earliest part of his career. These were fantastic, filled with little gems and quotes back when his mind was really humming. I did not know, for example, that he published four books in a single year. He's a little more rough around the edges and seems to speak candidly in a way that we wouldn't see in his later years (mid 90s on). Reading about his house and getting some insight into where his ideas come from are a must for any King fan. The rest of the book is unnecessary padding in 2019. A section about finding reputable book dealers doesn't apply as the Internet has made correspondence across the country a cinch. Long pieces about King's audiotapes are also dated. Finally, interviews with the illustrators of his book covers are head scratchers as publishers now churn out a new edition every two years with new, original artwork. What excited me the most and had its share of letdowns was the section in which his books are broken down into three or four page blurbs. Some of them yielded really interesting material, others not so much. After four pages of explaining how a pet funeral works, gravestone marking costs, and lack of animal embalmment, I was ready to throw the book out the window. Yes, pet cemeteries do exist. But when I want to learn about Pet Sematary, I'd prefer it be remotely about the book. Maybe the newer version is better, maybe I'm just a stick in the mud. As a huge King fan, I will say that sections of this book are very enjoyable. If you find yourself in the superfan demographic and want to know exactly what's going on with King in 1989, read. this. book. Otherwise hit up his wikipedia page and scroll through his life and a few of his books that you may have on your shelf.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aiden Merchant

    I would love to see Beahm go back and do this book again to include the last 20-30 years (seeing as this was published in '89). The stats that were scattered throughout the companion didn't do much for me, but chapters that dealt with the King household or the few interviews he's done at length - those were great. Of course, with a legend like King, a thousand page book could easily be written and still have more to say. I want to see the film adaptation section updated for sure (so many movies I would love to see Beahm go back and do this book again to include the last 20-30 years (seeing as this was published in '89). The stats that were scattered throughout the companion didn't do much for me, but chapters that dealt with the King household or the few interviews he's done at length - those were great. Of course, with a legend like King, a thousand page book could easily be written and still have more to say. I want to see the film adaptation section updated for sure (so many movies have come since '89), and a new collection of fan mail. And perhaps a chapter dedicated to his memoir, On Writing? That would be amazing. Nevertheless, for when this book was written/edited, there is a lot of great material here to devour for fans. This is definitely recommended for King's Constant Readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I really enjoyed listening to this. It’s the perfect companion for the constant reader *laughs* Yes, it’s a bit dated but I still found it very interesting, particularly the early interviews and the essays about King's impact. And the chapters about the books were really good. A joy for any King aficionado :D I really enjoyed listening to this. It’s the perfect companion for the constant reader *laughs* Yes, it’s a bit dated but I still found it very interesting, particularly the early interviews and the essays about King's impact. And the chapters about the books were really good. A joy for any King aficionado :D

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan Woessner

    The edition I read covered King's career from Carrie to Insomnia (so from the start to mid-90s). While repetitive at times, it was also interesting. It gave good perspective on the changing landscape of publishing from the 70s to the 90s. An updated version would probably be even more enlightening. I also liked the academic look at each book in regards to structure and themes. The edition I read covered King's career from Carrie to Insomnia (so from the start to mid-90s). While repetitive at times, it was also interesting. It gave good perspective on the changing landscape of publishing from the 70s to the 90s. An updated version would probably be even more enlightening. I also liked the academic look at each book in regards to structure and themes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    An absolutely magnificent look at the man and his works.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Princelust

    Awesome.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Scott Block

    Some great insight on SK, the man and the writer!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jared Busch

    Don’t expect a whole lot on each novel - and how could you if it’s spanning like 100+ works.... there was some interesting trivia along the way - a good skim.

  17. 4 out of 5

    wendy

    flew through the first half, then got bogged down. super outdated (i've had it forever) but still mostly enjoyable. flew through the first half, then got bogged down. super outdated (i've had it forever) but still mostly enjoyable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sungil

    Audiobook from Audible. Not much about the person, just the easiest accesible data, I guess. Skimmed the paper version today and that deserves fully the 4th star. The audiobook doesn’t give the real book full justice. Read the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alroma

    This novel was totally good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Grieve

    Very dated and comes a cross quite fanboyish, this was moderately interesting and slightly obsessive feeling. There were a couple interesting tidbits but it was also 40 years behind the times.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joheiv ☺deldos☺awol

    This book is totally awesome.

  22. 5 out of 5

    SeaShore

    This book really surprised me. Author, George Beahm gives a compelling overview of Stephen King's life from his birth, his parents and relatives and of course the impact this had on his authoring; his books. A 5-star. This is a good reference compilation for your library. This book really surprised me. Author, George Beahm gives a compelling overview of Stephen King's life from his birth, his parents and relatives and of course the impact this had on his authoring; his books. A 5-star. This is a good reference compilation for your library.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Gordon

    Not what I expected in a GOOD way. I expected a rather thorough analysis of each of King's works, as the title suggests to me. But what I got was an interesting assortment of King material. There were short summaries/analyses of each of his works published through 1995, but these summaries were only about 3 pages each and at the end of the book. What most of the book included were essays about King's impact, interviews, speeches he gave, King's intentional choice of small publishing companies/in Not what I expected in a GOOD way. I expected a rather thorough analysis of each of King's works, as the title suggests to me. But what I got was an interesting assortment of King material. There were short summaries/analyses of each of his works published through 1995, but these summaries were only about 3 pages each and at the end of the book. What most of the book included were essays about King's impact, interviews, speeches he gave, King's intentional choice of small publishing companies/independent booksellers, and a chapter on his house that I found especially interesting. For the substantial breadth of King included, I expected more about King as a youth and something about King's alcoholism early in his career and its impact on his writing. Those sore subjects got no attention in this book, which disappointed me, but were probably part of King's endorsement of the book. I thought this was a great read for any King fan.

  24. 4 out of 5

    My Bookish Delights

    Wow! This book is awesome! I plan on using it together with reading Stephen King's books so it will sit on my shelf for awhile. The plan is to read the book and then the pages for that specific book in this Companion. However, I read all the other chapters that don't have to do with specific titles and it was so interesting. I'm not usually a fan of biographies, but he is such an interesting man and it made me so much more excited to start my Stephen King challenge. The author did an amazing job Wow! This book is awesome! I plan on using it together with reading Stephen King's books so it will sit on my shelf for awhile. The plan is to read the book and then the pages for that specific book in this Companion. However, I read all the other chapters that don't have to do with specific titles and it was so interesting. I'm not usually a fan of biographies, but he is such an interesting man and it made me so much more excited to start my Stephen King challenge. The author did an amazing job. He made King really easy to relate to... I would love to just sit around with these people and chat! The illustrations included throughout the book are really creepy and neat. Would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes Stephen King. *I'm not including this in any challenges because it will likely be on my currently reading list for more than a year or however long it takes to read all the books!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah Vianese

    This new edition of Beahm's King Companion brims with excellent essays, interviews, reviews, photographs, and art. If you love Stephen King or horror novels, this is a must for your bookshelf. It's a book I revisit often after I read King's work or watch adaptations of his books. Beahm works hard to create a complete, complex picture of the author's career up to this point, and he does so with great success. This new edition of Beahm's King Companion brims with excellent essays, interviews, reviews, photographs, and art. If you love Stephen King or horror novels, this is a must for your bookshelf. It's a book I revisit often after I read King's work or watch adaptations of his books. Beahm works hard to create a complete, complex picture of the author's career up to this point, and he does so with great success.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah Vianese

    I adore this 90s edition of The Stephen King Companion. Though the current 2015 edition is more expansive as well as more delicately typeset and designed, this older edition covers King's work through Insomnia, has some great interviews, and generously devotes pages to large photos. I enjoy having the older edition along with my newer volume because the content varies between editions and the older copy is a more manageable size to carry around. I adore this 90s edition of The Stephen King Companion. Though the current 2015 edition is more expansive as well as more delicately typeset and designed, this older edition covers King's work through Insomnia, has some great interviews, and generously devotes pages to large photos. I enjoy having the older edition along with my newer volume because the content varies between editions and the older copy is a more manageable size to carry around.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    A very good companion book. Holds up very well considering it was originally published twenty-five years ago. I enjoyed the interviews the most, having that extra insight. Not a book I would recommend for the casual King fan, because they simply don't need to read it. But for King fanatics who must read every book that comes out, this is a must-read treasure to round out your collection. A very good companion book. Holds up very well considering it was originally published twenty-five years ago. I enjoyed the interviews the most, having that extra insight. Not a book I would recommend for the casual King fan, because they simply don't need to read it. But for King fanatics who must read every book that comes out, this is a must-read treasure to round out your collection.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This companion book provides good context behind some of King's most popular stories. For instance, I wasn't aware that "Misery" was originally intended to be published under King's pseudonym (Richard Bachman). The editor and collector of this book has done his research and chunked each chapter into logical sections. This companion book provides good context behind some of King's most popular stories. For instance, I wasn't aware that "Misery" was originally intended to be published under King's pseudonym (Richard Bachman). The editor and collector of this book has done his research and chunked each chapter into logical sections.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tanja

    While very interesting to read, I sure wish I would have a more updated version of this book. Stephen King has written many more books in the meantime which renders this 1989 edition quite outdated. Nevertheless, this book delivers some informative tidbits for Stephen King fans like me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Good. I read this one because I thought it would be useful, as a fan, to have a better knowledge of his life. Sort of. The impression I get is that King is a private person (wise man) and this book doesn't delve that deeply into anything personal. Good. I read this one because I thought it would be useful, as a fan, to have a better knowledge of his life. Sort of. The impression I get is that King is a private person (wise man) and this book doesn't delve that deeply into anything personal.

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