Today, one of the most talented—and prolific—writers of the modern time turns 68. Happy birthday, Stephen King!
The name Stephen King is synonymous with horror, but that’s hardly his whole deal. Sure, King has written the most popular and some of the best horror ever. But he also gave us the stories behind classic dramas like Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and many more. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has never read anything by King—or at least seen a film based on his work. The work of Stephen King is harder to avoid than vampirism in “‘Salem’s Lot.”
But not every great Stephen King story has been given a major adaptation to the screen—and that’s a shame. There are plenty of King stories that deserve the big (or small, since King’s TV adaptations tend to be pretty dang good) screen treatment and haven’t gotten it yet.
Technically a Bachman book—that is, written under King’s pen name Richard Bachman—”Rage” tells the story of Charlie Decker—a high school boy who has decided he’s had enough. King and his publisher let this novella go out of print after it was found in the possession of multiple school shooters, but Decker’s story is no glorification of guns in school. Decker is a little Holden Caufield, a little Travis Bickle, and maybe even a little of King himself. Decker appeals to the part of all of us that feels left out, surrounded by liars, and that it’s high time to get it on. It is possible that reading “Rage” and understanding that Decker speaks to the emotionally disenfranchised may actually help to prevent school violence.
Nobody wants to get stranded on a desert island—not really. But if this does happen, you’ll definitely want some hard drugs to keep you company. This is a gripping tale that’s been around long before Tom Hanks spent two hours talking to a volleyball. It would be pretty easy to shoot, and who doesn’t love watching a man go progressively more insane until he—well, we won’t spoil it. This is a good one, though; trust us.
Originally a magazine story in the fall of 1968, “Strawberry Spring” became part of King’s “Night Shift” volume ten years later. There was a collection earlier this year to make a short film version of this effective little tale about a murder spree on a college campus. The premise may not feel like anything new, but reading it is a chilling and discomfiting experience. With a strong cast and some overhead narration—this one could come together into a truly shocking short film.
Okay, we’re kidding about this one. “On Writing” needs no adaptation. As Stephen King has said himself many times—if you don’t think you have time to read, don’t bother trying to write. This book is easily one of the best books on the craft of writing regardless of your genre of choice. If you’ve ever considered penning a novel of your own, don’t make a move without a copy of this book. Horror writers should definitely give “Danse Macabre” a read as well while they’re at it.
King fans have long loved this little story about a boy whose only crime is trying to win the girl of his dreams. Oh yeah—and all those people he killed. This is a fun tale with a smallish cast that could pack a big punch if properly handled. One girl, one friend, the boy in question, a few minor characters and an unfortunate red car. I have to wonder what Cosmopolitan readers thought of this tale when it was first published in 1978.
This fun zombie short was originally published in one of Skipp and Spector’s zombie anthologies which are long out of print now. It was optioned for a movie but has been in pre-production for almost a decade. Get ON with it already, Hollywood. Zombie movies always make money, and with Stephen King’s name attached this is bound to be a sure thing.