Book Review – A Brief Guide to Stephen King by Paul Simpson

A Brief Guide to Stephen King
by Paul Simpson
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Running Press

A Brief Guide

I have to confess that I don’t read many biographies these days. Sure, I had to read a few mandatory ones for college classes…but that was 20 years ago. These days, I fill my head with horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. But when I saw this comprehensive ‘guide’ to one of my favorite horror authors of all time, Stephen King, I knew I had to give it a look. After all, what better way to gain personal inspiration than reading about someone whose work inspires me? I’m glad I did, too; although I’m a huge fan of King’s work, I really didn’t know much about him. This book gives an in-depth glimpse into the man behind the masterpieces, and you’ll probably never look at him the same way again.

If you are not familiar with A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Running Press:

In 1974, a new talent burst onto the horror scene: Maine schoolteacher Stephen King. Over the next forty years, King’s name would become synonymous with horror and dark fantasy through over fifty bestselling books including his magnum opus, the DARK TOWER series. Simpson traces the writer’s development through his difficult childhood and his early writing career to the success of CARRIE, SALEM’S LOT, and THE SHINING in the 1970s and the outpouring of material over the following two decades, some published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. It shows how King’s writing style was affected by the accident that nearly killed him in 1999, and the ways in which his battles with addiction to alcohol and medication are reflected in his stories. He also discusses the dozens of films, TV shows, plays, and comic books that have been inspired by King’s works. A recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, among many other fantasy and mystery awards, King is one of the most significant cultural figures of the recent past, whose work remains as relevant—and popular—today as when he began writing.

I think I’m pretty safe in stating that Stephen King is probably a household name by now. I doubt there are very many people in this country who don’t know who he is or some of the titles he is responsible for. But even so, the vast majority of those who know his name are probably just like me and know little about the man himself. Thankfully, this book will tell you all you need to know.

A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING is written well and flows smoothly as it lays out the life of this celebrated author. But it doesn’t just talk about King’s life growing up…it outlines the events in his life that eventually set the foundations for some of his most pivotal work. As a result, the reader gets to see the true (and sometimes surprising) inspirations for such classic titles as CARRIE, CUJO, THE STAND, and many more.

Unlike other biographies, this one takes each book written by King and gives a detail of the story, as well as key events that were happening in King’s life at the time of its writing. This is interesting because it gives an inner-doorway into the author’s mind and let’s the reader see where his mentality was during the creation of the work. I find this type of insight fascinating, and it brings to light many unknown facts about who King really is on the inside.

A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING is a huge win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of this amazingly talented author. Even if you’re not a fan of his work, you can’t help but be inspired by the obstacles he has overcome to gain the success he has today. Give this book a look for sure.


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