Bare Bones: Conversations on Terror with Stephen King by Stephen King

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Bare Bones

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This collection of interviews with King, conducted from 1979 through 1987, runs the gamut from radio broadcasts to works published in magazines such as HEAVY METAL, CINEFANTASTIQUE, PENTHOUSE, HIGH TIMES, and MONSTERLAND MAGAZINE. King details his early struggle before selling his novel CARRIE in 1973, when he and his wife and their two children lived in a trailer while King made a very modest living as a schoolteacher and a part-time Laundromat worker. King is repeatedly shown to be a regular guy in BARE BONES. He likes the heavy metal bands Motley Crue, AC/DC, and Twisted Sister; he drinks Budweiser; and he hates bugs: “Bugs are bad. Bugs are real bad. Sometimes I think about taking a bite into a big hoagie . . . full of bugs.” King is fascinated with the macabre and is delighted when readers tell him they were unable to sleep after reading his work.

The interviews are loaded with trivia. For example, the title of THE SHINING was originally titled THE SHINE until someone reminded King that “shine” was a pejorative word for blacks. King frequently refers to experiences from his childhood that have found their way into his writing. At times the conversations in BARE BONES border on the silly, however, as when King and author Peter Straub discuss how to read while taking a shower, this at the 1984 World Fantasy Convention in Ottawa, Canada.

BARE BONES is an entertaining look at one of the most successful horror writers of the last twenty years. The book is well presented and organized, although there is considerable overlap among the various interviews. A helpful addition to the book would have been a bibliography of King’s short and long fiction, as there are frequent references to his impressive and extensive body of work.