Stephen King was my first literary love. Between the ages of ten and sixteen I read every book he ever published — most of them twice, and some (his masterpiece, It; the novella The Mist) more often than that. I liked his talky style, and that he wrote a lot about kids, whose concerns and motivations carried equal weight with those of the adults. (Naturally, I also liked all the violence and sex.) But my love of King faded as I got older, for all of the usual reasons — evolving taste, discovery of what else was out there, a need to distance myself from anything that smacked of childhood. And so it went. By the time I graduated high school in 2000, King was largely off my radar.
I remember walking into a Barnes and Noble and seeing his then-newest, From a Buick 8 (2002), on a front table display. The cover depicted a blue car with lightning coming off of it and teeth for a grille. The tagline was, “There are Buicks everywhere…” I about laughed myself out of the store, thinking that King had finally jumped his shark and confirmed in the knowledge that I’d done the right thing to leave him behind.