Stephen King inspires his fans
By PATRICK McARDLE STAFF WRITER | December 03,2009
ALBERT J. MARRO / RUTLAND HERALD
Best-selling author Stephen King acknowledges the crowd while taking the stage at Manchester Elementary School on Wednesday evening.
MANCHESTER — The standing ovation that greeted the author of America's best-selling novel, "Under the Dome," at the Manchester Elementary-Middle School on Wednesday was fit for a Stephen King.
"Gosh darn, I feel almost as popular as Sarah Palin. I'm not sure if she would get a standing O in Vermont," King joked.
King was in Manchester for an appearance sponsored by the Northshire Bookstore. For more than an hour, he read what he called the "supermarket riot" scene from "Under the Dome," joked and answered questions from fans old and young on topics such as his earliest inspiration, his feelings about movie adaptations of his work and his future plans.
Barbara Morrow, one of the founders of the bookstore, said about 800 tickets had been sold for King's appearance in town.
"Well, needless to say, we're extremely excited and very privileged to be having him tonight. He doesn't do a lot of these kinds of events," she said.
King was introduced by his friend and fellow best-selling author John Irving, who has a home in Dorset. Irving spoke of the criticism he and King often received for the length of their novels.
Irving said it was nothing new for novelists, as "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville had gotten similar responses.
"As Melville knew, as Stephen King and I are well aware, when you have written a number of novels, is often one of being condescended to by your inferiors," he said. Irving introduced King as "one of the best storytellers alive and the scariest writer I know."
King began by thanking the audience for being readers and encouraged them to visit independent bookstores. "You people who are here tonight, go to Northshire Books, and buy that sucker out to the walls. Any independent bookstore is a treasure, but this is a very special place to have in the heart of Vermont," he said.
King talked about how amazed he was to hear about a price war between two large retailers who were selling "Under the Dome" for $9, which caused him to worry about the future of independent, "brick-and-mortar" bookstores like the Northshire. There was no shortage of readers in the Manchester school gymnasium on Wednesday. Morrow said people had come from North Carolina, Ohio and Connecticut. Matthew Patry of Tinmouth said he was hoping to hear King talk about how he had come up with his first spark of creativity.
"He's without a doubt the greatest artist in his genre living today. He has taken the horror writing to a whole new level," Patry said.
Michela Silver, a16-year-old from Argyle, N.Y., who had come to the appearance with her mother, said she thought King was a great writer whose "stories are all amazing," while Zachary Lamphere of Whitehall, N.Y., said the trip to see King, his favorite author, was an early Christmas present from his wife.
King told the audience before he read from "Under the Dome" that he didn't need to explain what the book was about because its title explained it. "It's a town that's under a dome. What else is there to say about it," he said, which led to a round of applause. He also joked with the audience about the shock he felt when he realized after completing the long novel that its plot mirrored the plot of "The Simpsons Movie," in which the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield is contained within a dome.
Those kinds of stories were valuable to Carlin Scherer of Manchester, who said she also writes and likes to come to author appearances at the Northshire because "they fire me up again" to continue writing.
"When I look at this crowd, I think I better be sure to write like (King) to earn that kind of money," she said. King ended by taking a poke at his own fame and how well he is and isn't known. He said he had been stopped in an Oregon supermarket by an older woman who told him she recognized him and didn't respect what he did. "I like uplifting things like that 'Shawshank Redemption.'"
"I said, 'I wrote that one, too.' She said, 'No, you didn't,'" he said.
"Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption" is a novella from King's 1982 book, "Different Seasons."