Joe Rechtman is a screenwriter & watcher, living in Los Angeles, CA.
My introduction to King
I was only seven or eight the first time I ever read a Stephen King book. I was the kind of kid that read chapter books during recess instead of playing with other kids, and I was proud of it. I liked to show off how well read I was, toting around my copy of Charlotte’s Web as if it made me look edgy and cool, the third grade equivalent of grad-school bro who always carries around a dog-eared Infinite Jest.
One day after school I was at my best friend’s house, and his older sister had left a library book out. Written across the top were four huge letters: CUJO. And below that, a name that I had heard before, a name I had noticed on the spines of the books on my older brother’s shelf (including that creepy one with he clown on the cover, who’s eyes seemed to follow you if you stared at it too long). In a self-conscious show of bravado, I decided to prove I wasn’t scared of any adult book, and sat down on my friend’s couch to read the first chapter (told you I was cool). I expected a story about a rabid dog, but what I ended up reading was far more terrifying: a little boy in bed, being tormented by some kind of dog-monster possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.
I didn’t sleep for weeks, one eye always on my closet.
Years after the Cujo incident, I finally worked up the courage to read a full Stephen King novel, beginning to end. That novel was Dreamcatcher, which is perhaps not an ideal first King book, but it was enough to hook me and start me on an expedition through his bibliography.
My path to the Dark Tower
Still, it was several years after Dreamcatcher when my Aunt happened to be in town during my eighteenth birthday and, knowing I liked Stephen King books, bought me a box set of four novels: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Wastelands, and Wizard & Glass. They didn’t look like any of the King books I had read up until that point. I was curious.
I was hooked almost immediately, transported to Mid-World and eager to find out what the hell was happening in this world that had moved on. Over the course of my junior and senior year in high school, coinciding with the release of the final book, I read nothing but Dark Tower books. I read everywhere, keeping whichever paperback I was in the middle of in my coat pocket (just like Charlotte’s Web) and would continue along the path of the beam every chance I had. I distinctly remember bringing the fourth book along with me when I knew I only had a few pages left in the third, and thank God I did because when I read that cliffhanger ending in the middle of my Physics class, I was able to just pull out the next installment and find out what happened with Blaine the Mono.
I don’t think my Aunt knows what a gift she gave me that year. The next year I turned nineteen and I was convinced every door I opened was going to lead to the Waystation. I’ve been captivated by the story ever since and can’t seem to stop reading it and rereading it.
If you have a similar relationship with the Tower—and I know I’m not the only one—then this blog is meant for you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.