The second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King was born to Stephen Edwin King. He and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother after his father left them when Stephen was two. He spent parts of his childhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where at the time his father's family was, and in Stratford, Connecticut. His mother brought her kids back to Durham, Maine, for good when Stephen was eleven. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, ... were disabled by old age, and her sisters persuaded Ruth King to take over their physical care. Other members of the family provided financial support and a small house in Durham. After Stephens' grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in Pineland's kitchens, a nearby mentally challenged residential facility. Stephen attended Durham Grammar School and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. He wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS, from his sophomore year at the University of Maine in Orono. He came on campus to support the anti-war movement, arriving at his position from a conservative point of view that Vietnam's war was unconstitutional. He graduated with a B.A. in English in 1970, and was qualified for high school teaching. A draft board examination immediately after graduation found him 4-F because of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums. He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the University's Fogler Library, where they both worked as students; they married in January 1971. As Stephen was unable to find immediate placement as a teacher, the Kings lived on his earnings. Many were collected in the collection of the Night Shift or appeared in other anthologies. Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine, in the fall of 1971. He continued to produce short stories and work on novels in the evenings and on the weekends.READ MORE
As his mouth flooded with that horrible sweet purple taste, he could actually see those grapes dull, dusty, obese and nasty, crawling up a dirty stucco wall in a thick, syrupy sunlight that was silent except for the stupid buzz of many flies
But he had never seen Myrna in practice...never that close up. He had been impressed and a little frightened by the contrast between seeing ballet on stange, where everyone seemed to either glide or mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes. and seeing it from less than five feet away, with harsh daylight pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows and no music- only the choreographer rythmically clapping his hands and yelling harsh criticisms. No praise, only criticisms. Their faces ran with sweat. Their leotards were wet with sweat. The room, as large and airy as it way, stank of sweat. Sleek muscles trembled and fluttered on the nervous edge of exhaustion. Corded tendons stood out like insulated cables. Throbbing veins popped out on foreheads and necks. Except for the choreographer's clapping and angry, hectoring shouts, the only sounds were the thrup-thud of ballet dancers on pointe moving across the floor and harsh, agonized panting for breath. Jack had suddenly realized that these dancers were not just earning a living, they were killing themselves. Most of all he remembered their expressions- all that exhausted concentration, all that pain... but transcending the pain, or at least creeping around its edges, he had seen joy. Joy was unmistakably what that look was, and it scared Jack because it had seemed inexplicable.
He reached out with one bird-claw hand. He closed it around my wrist and I could feel the hot cancer that was loose and raving through his body, eating anything and everything left that was still good to eat.
It's offense you maybe can't live with because it opens up a crack inside your thinking, and if you look down into it you see there are evil things down there, and they have little yellow eyes that don't blink, and there's a stink down there in that dark and after a while you think maybe there's a whole other universe where a square moon rises in the sky, and the stars laugh in cold voices, and some of the triangles have four sides, and some have five, and some have five raised to the fifth power of sides. In this universe there might grow roses which sing. Everything leads to everything, he would have told them if he could. Go to your church and listen to your stories about Jesus walking on the water, but if I saw a guy doing that I'd scream and scream and scream. Because it wouldn't look like a miracle to me. It would look like an offense.
But there was only that silence, as in the five or ten minutes before a vicious thundersquall strikes, when the purple heads stack up in the sky overhead and the light turns a queer purple-yellow and the wind dies completely.
The town has a sense, not of history, but of time, and the telephone poles seem to know this. If you lay your hand against one, you can feel the vibration from the wires deep within the wood, as if souls had been imprisoned in there and were struggling to get out.
The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance...logic can be happily tossed out the window.
Thin clouds form, and the shadows lengthen out. They have no breadth, as summer shadows have; there are no leaves on the trees or fat clouds in the sky to make them thick. They are gaunt, mean shadows that bite the ground like teeth. As the sun nears the horizon, its benevolent yellow begins to deepen, to become infected, until it glares an angry inflamed orange. It throws a variegated glow over the horizon.
a cloud-congested caul that is alternately red, orange, vermilion, purple. Sometimes the clouds break apart in great, slow rafts, letting through beams of innocent yellow sunlight that are bitterly nostalgic for the summer that has gone by.
As always at these times when he felt really in need of God the front of his mind was serene, but the deeper part, where faith did constant battle with doubt, was terrified that there would be no answer.
He remembered waking up once, listening to the wind, thinking of all the dark and rushing cold outside and all the warmth of this bed, filled with their peaceful heat under two quilts, and wishing it could be like this forever.
When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, "Why god? Why me?" and the thundering voice of God answered, There's just something about you that pisses me off.
So do we pass the ghosts that haunt us later in our lives; they sit undramatically by the roadside like poor beggars, and we see them only from the corners of our eyes, if we see them at all. The idea that they have been waiting there for us rarely crosses our minds. Yet they do wait, and when we have passed, they gather up their bundles of memory and fall in behind, treading in our footsteps and catching up, little by little.
Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.
You said 'God is cruel' the way a person who's lived his whole life on Tahiti might say 'Snow is cold'. You knew, but you didn't understand." He stepped close to David and put his palms on the boy's cold cheeks. "Do you know how cruel your God can be, David. How fantastically cruel?
In many interviews he had identified himself as a man outraged by death, but that was pretty much the same old big-balls crap he'd been selling throughout his career. He was terrified of death, that was the truth, and as a result of spending his life honing his imagination, he could see it coming from at least four dozen different directions... and late at night when he couldn't sleep, he was apt to see it coming from four dozen different directions at once . Refusing to see the doctor, to have a checkup and let them peek under the hood, would not cause any of those diseases to pause in their approach or their feeding upon him--if, indeed, the feeding had already begun--but if he stayed away from the doctors and their devilish machines, he wouldn't have to know . You didn't have to deal with the monster under the bed or lurking in the corner if you never actually turned on the bedroom lights, that was the thing. And what no doctor in the world seemed to know was that, for men like Johnny Marinville, fearing was sometimes better than finding. Especially when you'd put out the welcome mat for every disease going.