When Joyce Carol Oates introduced Stephen King at Princeton in 1997, she began, “It’s commonly said that certain individuals, notably the famous, need no introductions. On the contrary, I think, it’s precisely those whom we imagine we know, in broad stereotypical terms, who require introductions.” And it’s true, most people know Stephen King in very broad, stereotypical terms; you can’t sell over 350 million books without making a serious cultural impression. He’s been a fixture of the American literary landscape for so long that casual readers and even non-readers know much of his background by heart. Horror writer, folksy Mainer—the addict who scribbled out his first novel while sitting on a washing machine, and eventually rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. He’s also among that rare circle of writers whose film adaptations have become just as iconic as his words—more so, even, than their original source material. He’s the Horatio Alger of horror.
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