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Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’, 17 November 2016

... Ludmilla’s reading. Archer and Jockers are interested in the pumpkin plants – writers like Stephen King, John Grisham and Danielle Steel, perennial presences on the New York Times bestseller list – and what makes them sell so well. By looking only at textual features their machine has isolated the essence of the bestseller, Archer and Jockers ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland, 21 April 1988

Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Stephen King has occasionally raised a rueful protest against being typed as a horror writer – even with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: I'll eat my modem, 10 August 2000

... now everyone must know the deal: if 75 per cent of people who download the monthly installments of Stephen King’s ‘new’ online novel, The Plant, pay for it, he’ll keep on churning it out. Addressing visitors to his website as ‘my friends’, he urges them to ‘Remember: Pay and the story rolls. Steal and the story folds. No stealing from the ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Google’s Ngram Viewer, 20 January 2011

... Some years ago Stephen King announced that he would put his new book online before publication, for anyone to read freely. His publishers were spitting dollar signs and the fans delighted. In my memory he did as he said, and put the entire book on his website, but the 100,000-or-so words of the manuscript, though all there, were in alphabetical order ...

Taxphobia

Edward Luttwak, 19 November 1992

TheCulture of Contentment 
by J.K. Galbraith.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 195 pp., £14.95, April 1992, 1 85619 147 8
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... two on the inevitable punishments to come (‘The Reckoning I’ and ‘The Reckoning II’, à la Stephen King) and a final mournful coda, ‘Requiem’ – for unlike redemptionists who denounce sin and threaten hellfire only to preach and promise salvation, Galbraith forecasts an inevitable downfall of relative economic decline, further tormented by ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... Kingsley Amis seemed shrewdly chosen to forestall the ‘Lord Archer wins the lottery’, ‘lucky Stephen King’, or ‘not more cash for Martin’ reactions. Conservative values and Good English (virtues that Sir Kingsley and the Times share) would be the prime beneficiaries of the shattered book agreement. Inside, the op-ed page was dominated by a ...

Short Cuts and Half Cuts

Luke Kennard: ‘Early Work’, 20 June 2019

Early Work 
by Andrew Martin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.50, July 2019, 978 1 250 21501 7
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... to get by in. Excepting one roundly mocked character who announces he’s going to be the next Stephen King, Pete’s contemporaries dream of artistic fulfilment – and perhaps an adjunct teaching position at a state college – rather than financial success. But perhaps the point is that the bohemian lifestyle has been absorbed into the regular ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... the paranoia which was exacerbated by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King in 1968 and seemed to find its justification in the Watergate revelations. Richard Condon’s novel The Manchurian Candidate – an eerie anticipation published in 1959 and then turned into a Hollywood film which appeared during the Cuban Missile Crisis ...

First Impressions

Fredric Jameson: Slavoj Žižek’s Paradoxes, 7 September 2006

The Parallax View 
by Slavoj Žižek.
MIT, 434 pp., £16.95, March 2006, 0 262 24051 3
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... post-socialist anecdotes and reflections; notes on Kafka as well as on mass-cultural writers like Stephen King or Patricia Highsmith; references to opera (Wagner, Mozart); jokes from the Marx Brothers; outbursts of obscenity, scatological as well as sexual; interventions in the history of philosophy, from Spinoza and Kierkegaard to Kripke and ...

Never Not Slightly Comical

Thomas Jones: Amit Chaudhuri, 1 July 2015

Odysseus Abroad 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oneworld, 243 pp., £12.99, February 2015, 978 1 78074 621 0
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... has. There may be much that is autobiographical in the novel: Chaudhuri, like his Telemachus/Stephen Dedalus figure, was a student in London in the 1980s. But there’s enough distance for the writer to see the character with a balance of ironic detachment and generosity. Any portrait of the artist as a young man runs the risk of either taking its ...

How to be a queen

David Carpenter: She-Wolves, 15 December 2011

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England before Elizabeth 
by Helen Castor.
Faber, 474 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 0 571 23706 7
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... four women who ‘ruled England before Elizabeth’. The first of them, Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I, fought for the throne against King Stephen, aspiring to make herself queen-regnant. The other three were all queen-consorts: Eleanor of Aquitaine, who rebelled against her husband, Henry II; Isabella of ...

Well done, Ian McEwan

Michael Wood, 10 May 1990

The Innocent 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 231 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 224 02783 2
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... of Henry James – or rather, given the horror of much of what happens later, the atmosphere of a Stephen King who has learned to write like Henry James. ‘It had always been certain to start like this. If he was honest with himself, he had to concede that he had always known it really, at some level ... He thought, correctly as it turned out, that his ...

Hiss and Foam

Anne Diebel: Tana French, 26 September 2019

The Wych Elm 
by Tana French.
Penguin, 528 pp., £6.99, September 2019, 978 0 241 37953 0
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... cousins, each running to about 35 pages. (‘In lesser hands, these scenes would be a trudge,’ Stephen King wrote in a review. ‘There’s a delirious intensity to them that seems to be French’s sole property.’) Dominic, cocky and boorish, tormented them both: he spread a rumour that Leon, who is gay, had Aids, and may have tried to sodomise him ...

Dye the Steak Blue

Lidija Haas: Shirley Jackson, 19 August 2010

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories 
edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
Library of America, 827 pp., $35, May 2010, 978 1 59853 072 8
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... as if quite natural. There is no jolt, no place to pause and say this is no longer believable. Stephen King considers Jackson one of the great horror writers because she ‘never had to raise her voice’. There are no sudden twists in ‘The Lottery’. It appears to darken gradually, although in fact it does so at remarkable speed. Tessie’s ...

Something else

Jonathan Coe, 5 December 1991

In Black and White 
by Christopher Stevenson.
New Caxton Press, 32 pp., £1.95
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The Tree of Life 
by Hugh Nissenson.
Carcanet, 159 pp., £6.95, September 1991, 0 85635 874 6
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Cley 
by Carey Harrison.
Heinemann, 181 pp., £13.99, November 1991, 0 434 31368 8
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... especially the death of Jethro Stone, which is nastier than anything you will find in Stephen King – leave the reader groping for some sort of moral context in which to view them. Nissenson seems to have concentrated all his energies on drawing a portrait of the period so filled with specifics that some echo of the contemporary ...

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