Dear Stephen King
You were my first.
And though there were a plethora of men—and even a large number of women—after you, a girl never forgets her first, never forgets the moment in her life when she truly, deeply, fell into love with the written word. Sure, you’re not as romantic as, say, Poe or Hawthorne, but for a girl in her tenth year—who isn’t ready for their level of commitment—you worked wonderfully.
It made me love reading.
After It, I consumed your books like candy. I stayed up nights on end to read The Tommyknockers,Christine, The Shining, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Night Shift. When those two weeks were over, I began my summer project: to read an unabridged version of The Stand. (Thanks to my grandmother who bought me all of these books, most in hardback, even when we didn’t have enough money for food.) Once finished, I believed our love affair would never end. And I kept up my part of the bargain, spending the next year reading over a dozen other titles, including Gerald’s Game—which taught me never to have sex handcuffed to a bed—Dolores Claiborne—which taught me never to sit on a man’s lap—and Needful Things—where I learned that antique stores, like those my grandmother frequented, could be much more interesting than I thought.
But our relationship came to a climax in my fourteenth year, when I read the first three books of the Gunslinger series. Amazing, I thought. This world, these characters. I loved them so much I immortalized them further in a (very poorly written) sonnet for my English class.
Then, the unspeakable happened. A slew of dead white men came in and swept me off of my feet. I traded Roland for Gatsby, and we quickly drifted apart.
But a girl never forgets her first.
And so, in my adult life—after a string of bad author relationships—I returned to you, only to find that you have tanked without me. Not only that, you’d rewritten the Gunslinger series, and allowed Roland’s name to be misspelled around the fortieth page of Wizard in Glass (which I stopped reading, and literally threw in the trash). I almost felt sorry for you until the made-for-TV movies began. Then I knew we were finished.
But a girl never can forget her first.
I gave you another shot. And Bag of Bones—with its beautiful white cover and haunting story of loss—brought me back to you with open arms. It’s been a rocky relationship since then, with some real downers—um, did you really think you could pass off A Buick 8 to a reader who’d loved Christine?—but for the most part I’ve toughed it out.
And then came the made-for-TV adaptation of Bag of Bones. Setting aside the fact that the main character, Mike Noonan, is a writer (ug! another main character who is loosely based on the self?!?) and has a British accent while his brother, and entire family, are from New England (WTF?), I found it very hard to stomach a four-hour explanation of why I should be sympathetic to rapists and murderers. Granted, it’s been over a decade since I read Bag of Bones, but I would have remembered a plot that tempted me to sympathize with a man who drowned a child and raped and murdered her mother.
Also, what the fuck was up with that tree? Did it really have to grow a face? And was I the only person in America—or wherever else in the world this series was broadcast—to think Pierce Brosnan had way too many liver spots to be kissing the cook?
Props to Stanley Kubrick for his version of The Shining. Stand by Me is still one of my favorite movies. But the rest of the TV and film versions of your work really are heinous. For the sake of the integrity of your writing, I beg you to disallow any further adaptations of your work.
All my love,
Your on-again off-again Constant Reader.