from Entertainment Weekly:

The long anticipated sequel to The Shining, titled Dr. Sleep, is now official! There aren’t many details available about Dr. Sleep — Stephen King broke the news on his website yesterday in an item about two tweets long — but he did read an excerpt at George Mason University last weekend. It appears the sequel follows a grownup Danny Torrance, a hospice worker who helps patients die painlessly. He comes into contact with a clan of roving, psychic vampires called The Tribe. King says he’s close to finishing the manuscript.

Dw. Dunphy: Agh. This is bad, very bad.

Jeff Giles: I’m a fan, and generally, I think even his weaker stuff is addictive. I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt.

Dunphy: I’m a fan too, which is why this is so irritating. The guy wrote one of the great vampire stories of all time, and The Shining is no slouch, but why, why, why did he have to mix them up into a sequel that’s what, 40 years late?


Giles: I’m willing to bet he has a pretty good answer to that question. I’m at least curious enough to find out, anyway.

Jack Feerick: Well, he’s spent the last 20 years or so attempting to tie all his work together; which was fun for a while, in the early Gunslinger books, but all the self-referentiality (for me) quickly took on an air of exhaustion.

I think he imagines he’s accomplishing something like William Faulkner did with his stories and novels set in Yoknapatawpha County. But Faulkner was, to the end, vitally engaged with the follies and injustices of humankind as he encountered them outside the confines of his own head.

When an artform is in its decadence, when it ceases to be a vital cultural force; it stops holding the mirror up to the world, and starts collapsing inwards. The dances refer back only to other dances, the poetry to other poems. Everything exists in a web of referentiality.

Uncle Stevie is, I think, an artform unto himself by now, and a lot of his new work seems to me to be hollow in itself — ringing only with the borrowed resonance of older, more substantive works. Sometimes I think he’s only talking to himself now.

Giles: I agree that he tends to hit a lot of the same notes in his work, but I’d argue that he’s still capable of stringing together a compelling narrative. I really enjoyed Under the Dome, for instance. But then, I wasn’t bothered by the self-referential scope of the Dark Tower books — even if he made it easy to be cynical every time he encouraged you to wander off to Insomnia or Black House in order to really “get” the Gunslinger mythology, I thought it all tied together well enough to justify the effort.

Dunphy: I never considered King to be a purveyor of the most sparkling prose, but when he gets you, he gets you good. I recall so many years ago I had a severe bronchial infection. I had just picked up Bag of Bones, original hardcover, to have something to read in the doctor’s office. A lot of people would consider it a lesser King work, but I finished it in a day — and that is not a small page-flipping sort of book.

I suppose my initial reaction to the news about Dr. Sleep was this idea that has come and gone with me over the years. Stephen King does it his way and it works for him. Hearing that he was picking up vampires again just as the pop culture world is balls-deep in vampire lore struck me wrong. Of course, sucker that I am, I’ll give it a go, but so much about it feels like a book company’s fat check and not some inspiration that suddenly struck about this little world he had created.

We’ll just have to wait and see, and hope that my cynicism is totally unfounded.

Dean Koontz still completely sucks, though.

Ken Shane: I’m really looking forward to King’s next book, which deals with the JFK assassination. It will be published on Nov. 8.

Zack Dennis: I’ve felt that there aren’t many writers that can handle an action scene better than King — that’s one of the reasons why his books work so well.  There was a scene in Black House (when the bikers ride into the woods and encounter that hellhound beast) that had me pretty much breathless until the chapter was done.  I haven’t read anything of his since the disappointing conclusion of the Dark Tower series (which, to be sure, really never managed to climb back to the same level it reached during The Waste Lands), but I really loved Salem’s Lot.  I think King’s vampires would actually be a welcome change from the traditional teenage vampire fare these days.

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