One of my strongest memories of my dark teenage years is of sitting in my room depressed and bored listening to the Manic Street Preachers "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" when I happened to pick up a copy of The Tommyknockers that had somehow made it's way onto my bookshelf. It's cover was aged and bent and the pages were yellowing and it smelt of "I've been in a box in an attic for years". But I started reading. And I didn't stop reading it until I was finished.
It wasn't my first Stephen King book. It isn't my favourite. But it is the book that changed me from someone who read Stephen King books into someone who loved them. It was from then on that I purchased as many Stephen King books as often as I could afford to. I know what you're thinking, so what? I am not proficient enough with words to express what his writing has meant to me. I don't mean that in the crass "I'm your number one fan" sort of way. But the way he writes and the ideas he expresses have influenced me greatly. The music of Catatonia and the writing of Stephen King acted as a tourniquet to my fractured, depressed mind and helped mold me into the man I am today. From the use of the word "mayhap" to the phrase "Dear Constant Reader", the way my brain speaks (if not how I really speak) is heavily Stephen King reliant. His obvious love of America, Americans and Americana fuelled my own passion for American history and culture. His movie "Maximum Overdrive" helped rekindled the love of rock that my mother had tried so hard to foster (she's off with George to a Motorhead concert next week).
His book It gave me a summer that in the darker days of 1998 I couldn't have myself. Sure it's a book about a homicidal alien creature but it's also a book about childhood, about friendship and about the good within the bad. His book Bag of Bones chilled my spine. I found Desperation under my Mum's bed after she'd put it there to try and put it out of her mind, it had disturbed her so much. I found it deliciously dark. I love The Long Walk, a book I think every one should read once in their lives. The Stand is Stephen King's take on the end of the world, featuring God. It also happens to be my favourite book. Needful Things is a farce of epic proportions that you can't help but like. Misery is too well written for words. Gerald's Game the book I think I'll never finish... I always get half way and then stop reading... The Regulators is strangely alluring, it's surrealism makes it stand out in my memory. 'Salem's Lot and Pet Sematary remind me, in a good way, of rainy days. But there is one book that has stayed with me far more than any others.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon it's haunting. The story of a girl lost in the words. It's beautiful, it's well written and unlike many of Stephen King's books it's easily read.
I'll never be the fan who writes a letter to express my thanks, but here on my own little pieces of t'internet I say a big Thank You to the man whose words have been with me as a constant companion for nearly half my life.