What Are You Afraid Of?

Terror is Stephen King’s medium, but it’s not the only reason he’s so popular—and so frightening.

Introducing King when he gave a reading at Princeton last year, Joyce Carol Oates referred to him as a “great writer . . . both a storyteller and an inventor of startling images and metaphors, which linger long in the memory and would seem to spring from a collective, unconscious, and thoroughly domestic-American soil.” King’s prolific habits make him, like Oates, suspect in certain circles, and his immense popularity compounds the resentment. Hence, the verdict a while back by the critic Leslie Fiedler that “none of us will be remembered as long or revered as deeply as our contemporary, Stephen King” wasn’t embraced by those arbiters of the official canon who, without bothering to read King, feel comfortable dismissing him as a hack.

By Mark Singer, The New Yorker

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