Stephen King 1947–
American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. King is primarily known for his modern Gothic novels in which supernatural disturbances reflect psychological or moral problems, as in Carrie and The Shining. Critics praise King as a stylist whose characterizations are much better than those that are generally found in Gothic suspense novels. He is criticized, however, for lack of originality in plot and for being derivative in a field that too easily lends itself to imitation and cliché. King treats horror fiction as a serious outgrowth of mainstream fiction. As he says, "Fear and death are two of the human constants. But only the writer of horror and the supernatural gives the reader such an opportunity for total identification and catharsis…." King's work is a hybrid, utilizing the styles of both the traditional horror tale, as practiced by Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker, and the modern commercial thriller which utilizes phenomena such as parapsychology and ESP. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 61-64, and Something about the Author, Vol. 9.)
[Salem's Lot is a] super-exorcism that leaves the taste of somebody else's blood in your mouth and what a bad taste it is. King presents us with the riddle of a small Maine town that has been deserted overnight…. Vampirism, necrophilia, et dreadful alia rather overplayed by the author of Carrie…. (p. 935)
Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), August 15, 1975.