Friday, October 28, 2005

The King of Literature?'s Bill Gibron makes the case for Stephen King as literary giant and I must say I agree. I still remember the first time I cracked open a King novel. I was in the third grade and somehow I got my hands on "It." Let's just say when the wind blows just right, I can still hear Pennywise the Clown telling me that, "We all float down here, Matty Boy. We all float down here." Shivers down my spine everytime.

But scaring a little boy and making his teachers think his parents have a screw loose for allowing such trash to pollute a pristine mind doesn't qualify one for accolades we pour on writers that have withstood the test of time. I'm sure you think I'm crazy, "Stephen King as literature?" you say. "You must be joking." Don't snicker just yet Gibron says:
The calls for artist, though, have been there, albeit in a rather minor manner. Washed within the waves of dismissal and outright disrespect have existed a small, supportive group who believe that King resides with the masters in his handling of word and thought, not to mention his creation and management of both. They point to his growth, his ever-changing approach to subject and story, his experiments both inside and outside the genre and his vast, overwhelming oeuvre as proof that he is a prolific and polished craftsman. Has he left the world a Gravity's Rainbow? A Catcher in the Rye? A Finnegan's Wake? Probably not. Has he written works that will stand the test of time to translate across the years and into the realm of the well remembered and respected? Yes. Somewhere in the middle of those two statements lies his legacy. Somewhere in the middle of those two statements lies his fate as literature.
And a paragrpah from the conclusion, Gibron goes in for the kill:
Let this be the first volley in King's defense. Let this be the manifesto that corrects the conception of the author as high fat, high calorie content for only the most gluttonous of fiction gourmands. Let's look at what King has done inside as well as outside the field of writing (including work in defense of the First Amendment and in favor of the preservation of reading and writing in school curriculums) and begin the beatification. Let's not be so short sighted as those in the past who dismissed Van Gogh or raged against rock and roll. King's legacy will live on well past our passing on this Earth and it is up to us to build the bandwagon before another generation beats us to it.

Decades from now, fans will unearth his tomes and savor their sensational scares the way we lord over Stoker's violent vamp, or Shelley's modern Prometheus. They will acknowledge and accept his place in literature and laugh at those who ever discharged him outright. They won't have to wait to "know it" or "see it" -- the work will "say it" all. Stephen King is a talented writer of great literary merit. His work has fine artistic worth. He has earned the label of literature. So let's give it to him already.
The funny thing is though, King is starting to earn the esteem of the Ivory Tower as Carrie has been integrated into many a curriculum if I'm not mistaken. But Gibron's point is good, you can't deny someone their legacy because they're associated with a particular genre that you don't like. I loathe organized religion and can't stand faith much either, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate C.S. Lewis and the wonderful literature he created.

So enough's enough, give King the crown, he deserves it.