Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

While some people secretly indulge in masturbation (in the living room with their friend sleeping next to them on the couch: or more dangerous activities such as self-inflicted harm, I am referring to the comparatively tamer pleasure of enjoying a book that's not very well-written.

We all have a few, right?

As a former fan of the Sweet Valley High and Fearless series(es), I probably shouldn't ever poke fun at what others read (but, of course, still do. Frequently).

For a long time, Stephen King was a guilty pleasure for me. I have recently come to terms with my love for the King, even writing a few blog posts about what an idiot I was previously. The best thing about guilty pleasures, however, is the ways that our mind attempts to find reasons that it's totally okay for us to like these things we think, for whatever reason, we shouldn't like.

If you're a more sophisticated person than me, you probably shrug, say: "It's not very good, but I like it," & continue to indulge yourself.

If you're of a more crazy variety (possibly like me, though I don't think I'd admit to it), you probably come up with "theories" explaining your liking for your guilty pleasure.

All of this babble is an attempt for me to explain my theory as to why Stephen King is the modern-day Shakespeare.

It sounds pompous, I know.

The Bard:

Stephen King:

It might be a little pompous. But I haven't had anyone shoot it down, yet, so my theory still flies around in my brain. (So if you're going to shoot it down, be gentle, lest you cause my brain to hemhorrage.)

My theory mostly has to do with quantity. I am amazed at the sheer amount of work that these two men have managed to create (for King, thus far) in their lifetimes.

Both Shakespeare and King are fairly literary. They were/are smart men who were/are well-read. (From henceforth, I'm going to refer to both Shakespeare's & King's qualities, attributes, & accomplishments in present tense.) They know how to make allusions, and to what they should allude.

Shakespeare and Stephen King also both write about the world in which they live. When you read The Dead Zone, you're reminded that things like speed limits on the highway, and a drinking age of 21 are relatively recent additions to United States law. You can imagine, 200 years from now, people reading King's books in history class, both because it was popular literature, and because it describes the time period we live in very well.

I think Shakespeare and Stephen King are good writers, but not amazing ones. My reasoning for this is probably entirely superficial - it's too easy to understand their work. Maybe I don't get all of the allusions made, but I also don't feel like I have to read a sentence twice to comprehend the meaning, or even just take in its' beauty again. Personally, I have never had trouble exchanging "thee" for "you" in my head, and so Shakespeare has never really seemed like a huge deal to me. I read a book like Nabakov's Lolita and think to myself: "Wow. That was amazing. I will have to read that book again." I read Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and think to myself: "Wow. Those two were so STUPID. Just like my 18-year-old sister with her boyfriend-of-the-month." Both works have good writing, both works made me feel something, but Shakespeare and King don't make me think as much as I think a literary work needs to in order for me to hail it as something that NEEDS to withstand the test of time. There are the works I WANT my future children and other people's children to go on reading because they open your mind to new possibilities. And there are works like Shakespeare and King that I know my future children and other people's children will read because you can't go into a bookstore without seeing works by those authors, and so they will have some sort of opinion on the authors, just as I do.

With the amount of words that King has had published, I think the likelihood of his work surviving is high, just as Shakespeare's words have thus far survived -- and this is why, in my mind, King is the modern-day Shakespeare.

What is one of your guilty pleasures and/or conspiracy theories? I would love to read it/them in the comments below...

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