09 Apr 2010

Murphy on King

Shameless Self-Promotion 3 Comments

No, Larry didn’t book me for his live show. I’m talking about Stephen King, in my “Faculty Spotlight” interview at Mises:

6. What are your favorite literary works?

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is the greatest novel I have ever read, but I probably liked Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove more.

I also need to mention that Stephen King’s nonfiction book On Writing is absolutely wonderful for anyone who wants to understand how good fictions “works.” In his horror novels, King does something that I really liked in McMurtry’s books: They both “get inside the heads” of all the characters, and don’t explicitly judge them, but just explain how even the bad guys view the world and why they act the way they do. In contrast, when you read a Dickens’ novel you know who the good guys are–they’re the ones whose actions are comprehensible. The bad guys are black boxes of pure malevolence who are motivated by simplistic things like “I want a lot of money” and that’s that. They’re not depicted as real people.

Really, if you just assumed that Stephen King was the literary equivalent of Howard Stern, I think you should give his books a try. He is a fantastic writer. (Since I’m assuming most of you are not friends of the CIA, try Firestarter for starters.)

My wife informed me of his nonfiction book On Writing which really is amazing. He doesn’t teach you how to write horror books, he teaches you how to write great fiction. (Or at least, he explains what makes for great fiction.)

3 Responses to “Murphy on King”

  1. Taylor says:

    (Or at least, he explains what makes for great fiction.)

    Promises of free lunches, peddled by politicians?

    Duh-duh, chhhhhhhhh… thank you, thank you, I’m here all night.

  2. Paul Gifford says:

    His book ‘On Writing,’ is a must have for anyone who longs to write.

  3. Robert Wenzel says:


    You failed to note that King is a citizen of Red Sox Nation, which provides him with even more street cred. He even wrote a book about the Red Sox–the only Stephen King book I have read.