I Read My First Stephen King

I read my first Stephen king novel.  I picked it off of the shelf of my local library as a book on CD to listen to on my drive to school.  It was terrible.  I think that’s why it was the only one of King’s novels on the shelf.  It’s called From a Buick 8.  Have you read it?

It’s about a supernatural Buick that a group of police officers in rural Pennsylvania find abandoned at a gas station.  The Buick spends years locked up in Shed B behind their barracks, where it disturbs the rhythm of their lives with its crazy happenings.  The Buick causes electromagnetic disturbances, lowers the temperature in the shed, and gives birth to strange creatures.  It is also responsible for the disappearance for several people.  The officers believe the Buick to be a sort of porthole to another world and a “crocodile” that eats people.  The creatures who come out of the trunk during its strange purple storms are thought to come from another world.

The account of these happenings over the years is framed by another story, that of an 18-year-old boy trying to understand the death of his father Curtis Wilcox.  Ned began visiting the police barracks after his father was hit and killed by a drunk driver during a routine traffic stop.  As Ned becomes a fixture at the barracks, the officers take him in and eventually tell him the story of the Buick’s history of mischief as it relates to his father. Curtis was one of the first officers on the scene when the car was first found and he did the most investigating of the car.  He even dissected one of the bat-like creatures that came out of it.

So, that’s the basic story.  I almost stopped listening, but I realized that I was almost done, so I decided to continue just to be able to tell you about it.  The biggest problem with the story was its corniness.  The happenings aren’t all that intriguing or terrifying.  Yet, each time a creature emerges from the car, the officers reacted by throwing up.  The police officers did an awful lot of throwing, and when I asked my dad about this, for he’s a retired police officer, he laughed and denied that police officers do any such thing.

There was also a lot of swearing. I did not like that.  Perhaps I won’t like any Stephen King novels because of that.

There were also a few themes throughout the book that just seemed formulaic or forced.  One was the idea that  everyone is connected by invisible chains, and Sandy, the sergeant telling the story to Ned, often muses about these chains and how they have somehow entangled Ned.  This of course foreshadows and leads to be car’s final supernatural phenomenon involving Ned, and at that point my interest was somewhat more peaked.

The other theme was the late Curtis’s fondness for saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.  Satisfaction brought him back.”  The troop spent a lot of time tossing this idea around, especially as it relates to their investigation of the Buick, which they conclude can never be understood.  But I couldn’t help thinking, why don’t they contact some other authorities?  Why don’t they bring in scientists or government officials?

Anyway, I don’t recommend this book.  It isn’t my style, and I suspect that it’s not Stephen King’s best work.  My dad sent me a copy of King’s Dolores Claiborne on CD.  I think I’ll give that one a try before I completely give up on Stephen King.

Are there any other books of his you would recommend?

66 thoughts on “I Read My First Stephen King

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  1. Thanks for giving us the skinny on this one. I’ve never read it, mostly because I didn’t find the concept intriguing.

    Hmmm… Stephen King books that are good to read.

    Well, this comment is going to seem weird, but so be it.

    I, personally, think Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of our generation, and one of the only ones who gets talked about a couple hundred years from now.

    Unfortunately, he writes horror, and I don’t like much of his stuff. Too haunting, gross, etc.

    But, having said that, I thought his book “Under the Dome” was a masterpiece. And “The Stand” is epic, as I’m sure you’ve heard.

    Those are the primary two books of his that I’d recommend. (Oh, and also “The Green Mile.”)

    I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two, but I super highly recommend “Under the Dome.” Moves fast and takes the idea of a thriller to a whole new era. Link to it so you can read the book description: http://amzn.to/W7FTgp

      1. I posted something on my blog on this, and here’s what my friend Mark Terry said: “First, I think “From A Buick 8″ sucked dead bears. This is King at his worst, when he has a silly idea and pursues it to its silliest, creepiest conclusion. That said, I’m a writer because of Stephen King, a nonfiction essay he wrote once called “On Becoming A Brand Name” or something like that. Anyway, my recommendation for your friend, especially if she’s not exactly into horror, are “Bag Of Bones” and “11/22/63.” Both of these have been – accurately, I think – described as haunted love stories. I think they’re Stephen King at his most mainstream and accessible, and in many ways at his best overall, although I agree that “The Stand” is epic and “The Green Mile” does everything right.”

          1. Another comment from my friend Angie:

            Eeks. Unfortunately your friend picked one of the worst books he has written. The Stand, The Shining, and Carrie are the best ever. I am a huge fan of Mr. King. I literally own every book he has ever written. Buick was, sadly, pretty bad. His Dark Tower books were excruciating for me. I couldn’t even get through the first one. With those few exceptions I think the guy is a genius! I love Koontz but if I read his book after reading a King novel I am always let down. I feel like I’ve read a novel written by a junior high student. I read other horror authors when I need a simple fast read. I read Stephen King when I have enough time to get lost in another world. I get so involved in his books that its dangerous for people to try to talk to me if I’m reading. Other horror writers lack his depth. He truly will be talked about long after he is gone. Please tell your friend not to give up on him.

  2. I haven’t read many Stephen King novels, but I did enjoy The Shining. I had seen the film before reading the book and actually preferred the novel. It was more deep than the film, exploring Jack’s character and descent into madness more than the film, which portrayed him as a sort of caricature. It was pretty terrifying too.

  3. Stephen King isn’t my style either but “Delores Claiborne” is a good book. But my favorite is “The Green Mile.” It has subtle supernatural incidents and is quite well written. I highly recommend that one. I have heard that “The Stand” and “The Shining” are really good too.

  4. Didn’t he write “The Shining?” I never read it — and don’t figure to waste my time reading his novels when there are so many good ones out there! — but we stayed at the Stanley Hotel after King had been holed up there writing his novel (they point out the room where he stayed while writing his novel — after the season when there were no other people in the hotel, not even staff) and that was kind of fun. And we saw the movie. The man is seriously weird!

    1. Ha! You are so hilarious. Yes, he’s weird. He must be if he wrote the novel I just read. And bravo to you for being brave enough to stay there. I am a sissy and would never stay at a place like that. I think people are crazy who stay at those supposedly haunted hotels and mansions. Too scary for me!

  5. Dear Emily,
    There was a time in my life where I was fascinated by scary stories. I read some of Stephen King’s books, and they were page turners…like “IT”. Very creepy.”Pet Cemetary”…YIKES. And I think he wrote “Rose Red” also.
    But I stopped reading him altogether, because I realized the books were upsetting, and negative, and never made me feel good after reading them.
    I think he is a strange fellow, and I have to wonder about his thinking.
    Maybe it’s my old age creeping in, but I love positive books that make me smile these days!!
    Love, Lis

    1. Yeah, I am not into scary either. My husband and daughter went camping without me this weekend and I stayed home with the little one. I barely slept because I freaked myself out at every little creak and groan of the house! I think I will avoid IT!

  6. I’m a big fan of Stephen. I started reading the shining and i get goosebumps while i was reading that. Then i tried with Colorado kid, it was about a policial case from a dead body found in the beach that hasn’t name, that was pretty good also. Two after the midnight is fulled with little stories that are great. Then i tried with The Fog and it was very cool book also. I haven’t read the book that you listened but i have seen it in the stores, and i don’t like the story so i didn’t buy it. I will read It and after that the others books that your readers said. Maybe you should give one more chance to Stephen.

  7. Have you read Stephen King’s, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft?” It’s the best book I know about writing — wise, insightful and funny. It’s well worth reading if you’re a writer, even if you don’t like King’s fiction.

  8. I am not a huge Stephen King fan myself. But I will say I did enjoy Duma Key, Dark tower series, and book a suggest is a must read for any aspiring writer is his non-fiction book called On writing a memoir of the craft. I wrote a blog about it a few months ago, great read in my opinion. Sorry for repeating any information already posted above.

  9. I’ve only read one book and I can’t remember what it was called. I just remember a lot of kids being involved. I’ve watched The Green mile, that looks like an interesting read.

  10. Wow, I should check that one out! I would recommend you Stephen King’s “Needful Things”; one of my personal favourites.

  11. I had heard that particular Stephen King book was not so good. I think The Shining is a good one (very suspenseful) and Under the Dome is interesting. I am currently reading his latest one about JFK. It is pretty good so far. I did not like Christine – so don’t read that one!

  12. I read almost every Stephen King book written right up until I had my first child and I haven’t been able to read one since. It’s kind of weird. I have never heard of the one you listened to. Dolores Claiborne is a very good one. His books have a lot of cussing from what I remember and they are bizarre. You really have to open up your imagination.

  13. I didn’t bother reading From a Buick 8 because (like everyone above) I’d heard it was not his best. It’s a shame that that’s the first King you’ve ever read! I’ve been a reader of King since I was a teenager and very interested in everything taboo. From your list of favourite books I would guess that your tastes are very literary and King isn’t a “literary” writer. Of course, in his day, Dickens wasn’t considered literary either. He was essentially a Victorian Stephen King. Or is Stephen King a modern Dickens? Anyway, I agree with others that The Green Mile is one of his best, also The Shawshank Redemption (first novella of The Bachman Books). He’s interested in the question: What happens when bizarre things happen to ordinary people? What kind of courage and resourcefulness can your average American summon up when faced with vampires (Salem’s Lot), or aliens (The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher), or the plague (The Stand)? In IT, he explores the power of belief and the ability of children to harness that power to vanquish a monster. Of his later books I’ve enjoyed Rose Madder, Duma Key, and 11/22/63. Under the Dome was good as well but I can be squeamish so the revolting details are sometimes too much for me. I’m not as big as fan as I used to be, but I still enjoy a good King novel. The man has a lot of heart.

    BTW, I posted my Tiger Mom post a while ago (forgot to tell you, sorry!).

    1. Yes, my tastes are more “literary” but who’s to say that King won’t stand the test of time? Thank you for sharing a detailed analysis of King’s questions. That helps to make sense of what I read. Will you reply to this comment and post a link to your tiger mother post? I want to read it!

        1. I loved it! (And I’m writing my comments here because the comments on your blog are closed…) I especially loved how you brought in your own experience as a frame for the whole experience of reading the book. (and thanks for mentioning me!) I agree with your ideas about perseverance. Our children should learn that, but as you point out, at what cost? Your solution in your own family sounds like it’s working. It’s important to let children choose their own interests so that they can succeed, and it sounds like your oldest daughter has discovered some of those things. And, I have to admit, like you, I just have to tell my daughter to curve her fingers. Actually, she’s doing okay with that, but our big thing is keeping her wrists up. She likes to rest them against the keys and let them sag. She gets mad at me every time, but I think the difference in how you and I are telling them these things and how a tiger mother would do it is in the tone and the intention. I do it kindly. (And, I give bathroom breaks!) Thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing more of your posts!

  14. My favorite King book is The Dark Half. It’s been years since I’ve read it though, so maybe I should read it again and see if I can still claim it so. I also liked Needful Things, The Green Mile, and Insomnia. LIke many others, I’ve sort of stopped keeping up with Stephen King’s writing. It was something I enjoyed in my angst-reaking adolescence and early 20’s but have mostly outgrown. (along with Anne Rice’s vampires and others in that ilk)

  15. I used to read EVERYTHING King wrote in the 1980s. My favorite was “It”. It was an all-summer read since it is voluminous. But it scared the bejeebers out of me. Some of his short stories packed into volumes like Skeleton Crew were also good. They are remaking “Carrie” the movie, I believe, which is the first book of his I ever read — in high school. Like others who have commented, I loved “The Shining.” And I liked “Cujo” for the intenisity and all that it packed into such a short span of time. These days I don’t read KIng. I like to sleep at night. I get my dose of bejeeber-scaring from Discovery ID Channel!

  16. You want to read The Bachman books. Stephan King wrote under the psudonym Richard Bachman and those are good. My favorite is The Running Man. (better than the movie, so don’t waste your time trying to compare them. But seriously, the final scene will be with you forever. FOR-EV-ER.

      1. Interesting. I did not know that. And, because I know you might be interested, my daughter finally saw her allergist! She is still very very very allergic to cats and dogs, but NOT allergic at all to guinea pigs and hamsters. It looks like that is the way we will go!

        1. Guinea pigs are cute but NOT quiet. (this I never knew until trying to share a room with one) Hampsters are sweet if they’re held all the time…and I also know from experiance you cannot cross-breed them with gerbils, ah fifth grade, that was fun.

  17. I have never read Stephen King. I don’t think I realized it until I read this post. I’ve seen many movie adaptations, though, and have enjoyed many of them, so I imagine some of his books have a lot of literary value. I would love to read The Green Mile, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Delores Claiborn. And I am sure there are others I’m not even thinking of. He definitely has a twisted mind, but then I think the world is more interesting with a few twisted minds in it 🙂

  18. I am not a King fan at all– but I admit I haven’t given him too much of a chance. The Shining was a fantastic movie, and if I ever read any thing of his, I’d probably try that one. This is my first visit to your blog, and I’m excited to read more of your insights.

  19. Perhaps you could give his short stories collection like Full Dark, No Stars a try before diving into his novels. It’s the reason why I haven’t given up on Stephen King yet. 😀 11/22/63 is next on my list!

      1. Yes, it’s a novel about JFK’s assassination and the possibility of altering the past. I find the plot riveting and less bizarre than all his other novels (I hear you on preferring realism). I hope it lives up to this impression!

  20. I haven’t read this book yet. I already read another of Stephen King’s book about a car ‘Christine’. I didn’t like it so I didn’t not bother with this one.

    I enjoyed 11/22/63. It’s less gory than most of Stephen King’s books. My fave Stephen King book so far is Cell (about People turned into some sort of zombie by cellphones). I thought it is interesting because of how people are so dependent on cellphones and it made me image that it might happen. Under the dome is good too.It’s a bit long though (well most of his books are quite long).

    This is my first time on your blog. Looking forward to browsing through it and see what peaks my interest.

    1. I’m glad you found me. I actually just finished Dolores Claiborne and really liked it. I’ll post on it soon. I’m glad I gave him another chance. He does some good work, just not this one!

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