My first introduction to Stephen King was SALEM’S LOT, which I read in the mid-1970s while my husband worked nights and our children were fast asleep. At that time, although I had to wake up at 6:00 to get ready for work, the story kept me up reading all night. It both fascinated and frightened me; I was too fascinated to quit turning the pages and too frightened to close my eyes. Since then, I’ve been a fan of King’s and have read most of his novels as well as his memoir of the craft, ON WRITING.
HAUNTED HEART by Lisa Rogak portrays King’s life and times in a conversational tone and voice, yet in a thorough and convincing manner. The book includes facts, anecdotes, interviews, quotes, several photos and a timeline. Some of the information here are already known from news stories, magazine articles or other sources. Much of it, however, is new --- at least to me --- and I suspect to others as well.
What sets this unauthorized biography apart is that Stephen King, the man and writer, is examined in the context of his times: a child raised by a single mother during the 1950s; a college student and protestor during the Vietnam era; a young father, husband and struggling writer working menial jobs in the early 1970s; a prolific and highly paid writer beginning in the mid-1970s; a generous benefactor; a loyal Red Sox fan since his childhood; a rehabilitated abuser of alcohol and drugs; a victim of a near-fatal accident at the turn of the century; a devoted husband for nearly four decades; and a proud father and grandfather.
The chapter titles, which are also the names of some of King’s works, give clues as to the narrative that follows. For example, Chapter 1, “Apt Pupil,” covers King’s early childhood and formative years. His terrifying accident and recovery after being hit by a van are discussed in Chapter 12, “Misery.”
HAUNTED HEART contains personal information about King that I have never read before, most notably about his wife, Tabitha, and their three children, Naomi, Joe and Owen. While the anecdotes about the loyalty and love of Tabitha and their devotion to their kids complement the biography, I had hoped it would’ve included photos of them, as well as his mother Ruth and brother Donald. Nevertheless, I found HAUNTED HEART to be an interesting and a readable book. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Stephen King, the incomparable writer who has created some of the most haunting stories that have fascinated and frightened readers for decades.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011