Seattle, WA 98125
March 6, 1994
Mr. Stephen King
23407 108 th St.
Bangor, Maine 08104
Dear Mr. King,
I have just finished Christine and I think it was your best book that I've read. It was interesting, funny, and immensely gory, I like that.
Oh my god it's a fucking fan letter.
For about six years, somewhere between the Hardy Boys and Graham Greene, Stephen King constituted the entirety of my extracurricular activities. I didn't play sports, didn't have hobbies and was only allowed an hour of TV per day. This left me about six hours of free time between school and bedtime, and I can't remember doing much other than reading.
Stephen King was the first 'proper' writer I read, and I constructed my entire understanding of the adult world around his. Beyond the werewolves and demonic possessions and post-apocadultery, I remember being most shocked at the sheer volume of sin in his stories. Under the premises of my Christian (albeit West Coast) upbringing, lying, premarital sex, cursing and drinking were major transgressions, and everything I had been told about them gave the impression that they were 1) rare and 2) exclusively perpetrated by the world's villains.
I remember a small scene in It where a female character contemplates the genitalia of the man sitting next to her on an airplane, and considers screwing him in the bathroom. At 14, I was utterly scandalized by this, and further scandalized by the fact that she wasn't the story's villain. 'What?! Genitalia and goodness?!' I imagine myself screaming at the chapter break, furiously flipping ahead to see if she got her moral comeuppance in the third act.
The characters were amazingly life-like, but mysterious in a way. Characters like Rollie LeBay were awfully strange and scary. I found myself almost shivering when I found out what was happening to Arnie, like when his handwriting changed to LeBay's.
Later in the book I found myself wondering "who will Christine kill next" and I was very surprised when Arnie died at the end. I thought it would be fine and he'd be the same old Arnie in the end. I was shocked when I found out he was dead and I was surprised when I found LeBay killed him.
I was a fastidious little youngster. Say what you want about that paragraph, but it is impeccably punctuated. At 12, I managed to capitalize that 'b' in 'LeBay' every fucking time. Suck it, 10th grade language arts teacher who called me sloppy.
You can see the pinprick-narrowness of my moral universe here. Even in a story about a vintage Plymouth possessed by Satan (no, that's seriously what the book is about), 12-year-old-Me is expecting the good guys to win and for everything to go back to normal at the end. I had clearly been spending my daily TV hour on Growing Pains.
I must admit, although I loved the book, I did not like how you said that "it ended that night." I've noticed that you do that a lot, give away what will happen. How long does it take you to write a book like this?
From an avid reader,
I love how I ended my piercing literary analysis by coming out strongly against the concept of foreshadowing. Way to establish your precociousness, kiddo.
And the question at the end: I know Google didn't exist, but surely that information was available if I'd really wanted it. I feel like I would have gotten a response if I'd asked him about the It genitalia-flight.