I’ve seen lots of posts around the internet today about Stephen King today, marking his 70th birthday.
I’ve made a few myself over in Facebook, and noted in comments on other posts there how Salem’s Lot was the first book of King’s that I read. I’m pretty sure of that. My mom was selling both Carrie and Salem’s Lot in a garage sale. Carrie had a movie tie-in cover iirc, but Salem’s Lot had a mysterious one that showed a face. I think the style was bas-relief, or what could pass for it on a 1970s-era paperback. A drop of blood hung at the corner of its mouth.
I was probably 13 at the time, and fairly dumb/innocent, so I didn’t immediately think “vampire” and dove into the novel without any expectations or preconceptions. So you can understand that my socks were knocked off as the story unfolded.
What’s really amazing is that the sense of discovery, of entering unknown territory that I experienced reading that book changed my life. The idea that you could escape reality whenever it got too tough, and find solace in another world by opening the pages of a book was novel if you don’t mind the pun.
The best fiction opens those doors, and once you step through you’re never the same.
King still gets to me. Even the stories I don’t like still offer a view of another place, another time, another way to look at the world. So I think it’s appropriate to offer thanks to the person who gave me the keys.