letter to Stephen King

Dear Mr. King, It is with great regret that I write to inform you I will no longer be reading any of your acclaimed works. This is made all the more regrettable as I have only read one of your books in the first place.

My recent experience with _The Stand_ left me restless, unproductive, and angry. Please let me explain.

It was with excitement that my boyfriend handed me the book, even after my proclamation that I did not like books about "horror and magic" etc. "This one's not like that," he said.

I began my experience enjoyably enough. I've always had a soft spot for incurable life destroying illnesses that produce large amounts of bodily fluids aptly described by an author or witness. Each time someone around me would cough or sneeze, I'd mutter "Captain Trips?" under my breath, sharing a delightful little private joke with myself.

The first inklings of my personal horror were innocent-seeming. I started wondering, from time to time, what I would do should the world be suddenly unpopulated, only a few souls to cling to, and rotting corpses all around me. I dreamt about it, sure, but the thought did not take over my regular lifestyle. Not yet.

I had a free weekend. Here in North Carolina, the summer days are filled with excellent activities such as cocktail drinking, swimming in the pool and taking leisurely walks. But I decided to stay indoors, all weekend, and read your book. Did I mention it was the unabridged version? Thank you so much for rereleasing that monster with so many additional pages of utter despair and completely dense paragraphs. And come to think of it, perhaps I should reword my above sentence, "decided to stay indoors." It was not a decision, but a mandatory demand placed upon me by my own, wearily addicted brain.

It was not long into my weekend-long reading frenzy that I started to actually physically worry about Frannie's baby. I drifted in and out of sleep on the couch in our living room (my night's sleeping disturbed, now, by thoughts concerning the future of the human race).

Harold Lauder danced through my fitful naps. If only he had tried a bit harder. The "dark man" sat upon my chest, asking, over and over again, why not choose the devil? And I endlessly compared Mother Abigail to a real 113 year-old woman I had recently met who remarkably fit her description. Had I met a messiah and let the experience slip through my fingers? I didn't know anymore. My dreams were filled with questions I could not answer. What would I do? Who would I choose? How would I deal? How much grief can be forced upon one society?

There were more uplifting sections, of course. I enjoyed greatly Glen's sarcastic wit. The dog, Kojak, was a phenomenal creature, and I projected Kojak-like expectations on my own pets. If I were dying, slowly, in the wilderness, would you bring me a dead rabbit, and wood to build a fire? Their answers were blank, questioning stares. More pertinently, I'm sure they were thinking, why have you not fed or walked us? Maybe you should get off the damn couch?

Characters in the book starting wetting their pants or puking on what seemed like every other page. Other worldly occurrences began to take place. Mixed in with the cast of every day Americans, there was now a hint of what I commonly think of when I hear your name, Mr. King. Good and Evil. Randall Flagg smiles and birds drop dead off telephone wires.

I finished the novel Sunday evening. I was left tired and questioning. Things never change, do they? The policemen want to be armed. Humans make the same mistakes again and again. And I still couldn't get out of my head the image of a United States covered with rotting corpses. Larry Underwood and the tunnel scene. I had to make myself answer the question...would I have been able to do it? Would I have been able to walk through that dark space of death?

I suppose this is the problem. Somehow, with your talent, you got me too involved. I knew a little too much about the situation to deem it imaginary. And so, I believed and had to face the possibility myself.

It was only upon reading the last words that I was able to free myself from the grasp of _The Stand_. And even that night there were a few more dreams. But upon entering my house from the porch, after thankfully closing the book forever, I found my boyfriend getting ready for dinner. We ate real food (not sustenance from cans due to an electricty shortage brought on by a rapidly spreading lethal disease). Neighbors and their children walked through the streets. This is my world.

The characters in your novel faced a great adventure and learned about themselves and the human race while they were at it. I'm glad I had you, and them, to describe it to me and take over my every waking thought for several days. But I'm glad to be back. I like my hairdryer. I like my shelter from the winter snow. The doctor's office.

Am I grateful for the experience? Somewhat. But I'm taking a break, for good if I can, from your wonderful writing, Mr. King. You have enough readers as it is, and apparently my imagination can't handle so realistic a portrayal of destruction and redemption through holy signs.

Don't get me wrong. You have my admiration - absolutely. We just see things differently. If I want pessimistic philsophy in the future, I think I'll just pick up some Nietzsche. I'll probably nod off quickly after doing so, and enjoy deep, dreamless sleep.

One more thought - I know you are from Maine and include the state in many of your works, including _The Stand_. My family and I have always chosen the Maine coast as a vacation destination. Now, when passing through the quaint towns, I will probably look beyond the seagulls and ice cream stands, the wild blueberries, and thriving wilderness, to a deeper, darker remembrance of ghastly and demonic plague-inflicted death. Thank you for that.

Respectfully yours,

Cara Maria Rotondaro