In his 1998 biography of horror and suspense writer Stephen King, entitled "Stephen King - America's Best-loved Boogeyman," author George Beahm provides an extensive as well as insightful look into King's life.
This reporter knew of King from the numerous movies based upon King's stories. Yet, it was through Beahm's biography that a deeper appreciation and understanding was reached. Maybe one of the reasons King (at least for this reporter) was considered "just another novelist" is because of all the prolific sensational aspect of his stories in the movies.
While it is a thrill no doubt to have one's material turned into a movie, such commercial success can often eclipse the deeper talent within the writer's abilities. It seems to this reporter that with King's tremendous and enduring commercial successes, the more refined aspects of his work is not as obvious.
Well, at least not until reading Beahm's account. He cites all the elements of King's life that brought him to the literary success King is today. The early struggles with poverty, those first conflicts between upholding one's everyday responsibilities like raising a family and pursuing one's passion.
While many of King's movies lend themselves to the frenzy of the horror flick genre, there is that poignant side. Deep, tender, honest and very human that is what Beahm brings forth.
Since reading Beahm's biography this reporter has followed a bit more thoughtfully. Especially so after King's work "Dolores Claiborne." That work is magnificent and in this reporter's opinion (if I may be so bold) it is one of King's best.
"Dolores Claiborne" translated so magnificently to the big screen and really is a masterpiece in its own right. Why the Academy Award's did not give it more nominations, I don't know. Kathy Bates should have gotten the "Oscar" for that performance as it was a 'tour de force' for sure.
Yet, after reading Beahm's book, I revisited earlier movies like "Carrie." Beyond the frenzy and bloody mess, there was that special moment just before the horror is released. The getting ready for the prom scenes and then the tender moments with William Katz and Sissy Spacek. These scenes provide a hint at the gentler side, and more human side of King.
And, at least as this reporter sees it, provide an insight into the fine line between heaven and hell in so many of our day to day lives as humans.
For Stephen King fans this book by George Beahm is a must and yes a real treat. I disagree with the review Publisher's Weekly did. Beahm provided a comprehensive biography. And, for those that think King is just over commercialized, think again.
Put the horror element aside and what other prolific writers have had their works made into movies, plays and so on? What about Dickens? Twain? Oh wait what about Edgar Allen Poe?
I think at this point in King's career it might be confident to say he is firmly established in that category. Oh and next time you want a see a really good Stephen King movie, check out "Dolores Claiborne" on DVD. There are lines from that script that are classic and oh what a cast - along with marvelous cinematography.