TITLE: DANSE MACABRE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_Macabre_(book)
AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING (www.stephenking.com)
PUBLISHER: WARNER BOOKS (http://www.littlebrown.co.uk/home)
BLURB FROM THE BACK COVER
DANSE MACABRE is a unique combination of fantasy and autobiography, of classic horror writing honed to an unforgettable edge; an analysis of horror, terror and the supernatural in films, television and books by the bestselling master of the genre – Stephen King.
Ranging across the whole spectrum of horror in popular culture and going back to the seminal classics of Count Dracula and Frankenstein, Stephen King describes his ideas on how horror works at many levels, and how he brings it to bear in his own inimitable novels…
Danse Macabre is one of only four non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I’m being serious. Non-fiction is not my thing. I’ve also read On Writing by Stephen King, So You Want to be a Writer by Jane Wenham Jones and Freedom in Exile by The Dalai Lama.
Danse Macabre was published the year I was born. I bought it about fifteen years ago when I first became a fan of King.
King discusses the horror genre in general which includes discussing radio programmes and TV shows that dealt with the supernatural, why he writes in the genre, horror in movies, horror in fiction and how real-life sometimes imitates art. There are two detailed appendices at the end of the book that list 100 horror films and horror novels he recommends.
King’s insight is fascinating. The only issue with Danse Macabre is that he only looks at the horror genre in 1950 – 1980 so it hasn’t dated well in 2012. Some of the shows and movies he discusses have probably never been seen by people from my generation. I would love to see a revised edition where he looks at the horror genre from 1990 onwards.
The best bits of Danse Macabre were the chapters where he discussed why he writes horror fiction and the chapters that look at horror in films and horror fiction. The other chapters while interesting didn’t do as much for me. King’s recommendations in Danse Macabre led me to read the brilliant Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I’ve also ordered a copy of Strange Wine by Harlan Ellison from www.amazon.co.uk because he sings its praises.
My favourite chapter overall was An Annoying Autobiographical Pause where King looks at the horror genre in connection to his own writing (i.e. why he writes about the things he does). As a writer myself I love to read about how writers have been inspired and influenced. King’s memoir On Writing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Writing) is brilliant.
Danse Macabre is interesting to read if you’re a horror fan. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much if another author tackled it. I wouldn’t read a similar book if it looked at the Science Fiction genre. Danse Macabre appeals to be because I’m a horror fan. It’s definitely a specialist market. I like Danse Macabre because I’m a horror fan, I love King’s work and love books and movies.
THE OPENING LINE:
For me, the terror – the real terror, as opposed to whatever demons and bogeys which might have been living in my own mind – began on an afternoon in October of 1957…
An Annoying Autobigraphical Pause is the best chapter in the book. I found King’s insight into his own writing fascinating.
There are two chapters that deal with horror in movies. I also really enjoyed these chapters. King mentions a lot of films I enjoy including The Exorcist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Psycho.
The chapter on horror fiction is excellent. King discusses some books I’ve read and loved including Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Haunting by Shirley Jackson.
The book was published in 1981 and looks at the horror genre between 1950 – 1980. Unfortunately, it’s a bit dated now.
Danse Macabre is an interesting look at the horror genre in whole across all mediums from radio to movies and fiction. I really enjoyed it. I found it fascinating. King’s insight has given me a big list of horror movies and fiction I want to get my hands on.