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Danse Macabre

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  23,908 ratings  ·  817 reviews
Before he gave us the “one of a kind classic” (The Wall Street Journal) memoir On Writing, Stephen King wrote a nonfiction masterpiece in Danse Macabre, “one of the best books on American popular culture” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

From the author of dozens of #1 New York Times bestsellers and the creator of many unforgettable movies comes a vivid, intelligent, and nostalgic
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Berkley (first published 1981)
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Jenni Buchanan No, this doesn't spoil the plots of any of his books. It was written in 1983 so the only books of his that he really talks about are The Shining,…moreNo, this doesn't spoil the plots of any of his books. It was written in 1983 so the only books of his that he really talks about are The Shining, Salem's Lot, Carrie, and The Stand, and he doesn't give away anything too important from any of them.(less)
Christine Yes the version I have has an added intro that discusses the best of the 90/s early 2000s…moreYes the version I have has an added intro that discusses the best of the 90/s early 2000s (less)

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Dan Schwent
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
Danse Macabre is Stephen King covering the horror genre, in TV, film, radio, and text, from roughly 1950-1980. I'd been meaning to read this for a long time. The Kindle price was the clincher.

I don't really know what to say about this one. It was pretty middle of the road. Stephen King writes about three decades of the horror genre in various media. I thought some of the subjects were interesting, namely the movies and the books, many of which I'll have my eye out for. His insights on the nature
This is what my copy looks like after finishing:

There was so much inside that head that I just wanted to remember, or come back to, or... just highlight. I could have done all of that on my nook, and it would have been easier. Simpler, less restricted as to what I could fit onto the post-it, but... I dunno. This way just felt right to me.

There were a lot of references to books that I hadn't read yet, and these sections I tried to skim so that I could get the idea without the spoilers, but that
Johann (jobis89)
"We fall from womb to tomb, from one blackness and toward another, remembering little of the one and knowing nothing of the other."

A non-fiction book that focuses on horror fiction throughout movies, film, television and radio, and what is it about the genre that captivates so many horror enthusiasts.

The Master of Horror discussing the genre of horror?? Sign me up! This was admittedly better than I expected - I expected a stuffy essay that would be a chore to read at times. Luckily, this wasn't
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars if you are a casual King fan

4 stars for being a very decent dissertation on the horror genre (remembering that it was released in the early 80s, so any horror between then and now is missing)

I have been in the middle of rereading King’s books in chronological order – mostly on audiobook. This is the first one in order that I got to that I had never even read before! This one I did not do on audio. I have actually had a paperback copy of this for decades and it is quite beat up. In fact,
Michael Jandrok
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been patiently parsing my way through a lot of the early works of Stephen King lately. I think “The Stand” is next in order of publication, but that’s a tall order to tackle, so I might put it off until early next year. In the meantime, I picked up a battered paperback copy of King’s long-form essay on the horror artform itself, “Danse Macabre.” Originally published in 1981, King wrote this book at the urging of his then-editor at the time, Bill Thompson, who told him it would be a good ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
A different read from what is normally expected from King, but enjoyable nonetheless.

His ideas about writing and also the mechanisms and origins of the horror genre. I still think about this often when I am reading a horror story. Now that I have read some of his influences like Blackwood and Lovecraft, I think I have a greater appreciation for Danse Macabre.

Dannii Elle
"the work of horror really is a dance—a moving, rhythmic search. And what it’s looking for is the place where you, the viewer or the reader, live at your most primitive level. The work of horror is not interested in the civilized furniture of our lives. Such a work dances through these rooms which we have fitted out one piece at a time, each piece expressing—we hope!—our socially acceptable and pleasantly enlightened character. It is in search of another place, a room which may sometimes ...more
Kyriakos Sorokkou
When the King of Horror writes about the Horror culture then it's a book bound to be perfect.

well, it was, but now it's a bit outdated.

King writes mainly about horror films and books from the 1950's up to the 1970's
Since then it's been more than thirty years and thousands of films and books were released and published since then so; he talks about things in the past.

With the books it's fine, because you can find all these books he recommends still available today. The same can be said
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
I had wanted this book for years but once I started reading it, it was hard to keep up with. I kept putting it in the side. Yes it's an older book and not up to date with modern movies...but hearing King speak of memories of horror and his views on movies and books of older day seemed like a priceless idea to me.

While some areas are of course interesting, there is so much repeated and off-topic rambling that sneaks in. Ideas are stated but then beaten to death. 20 novels are discussed as majors
Ashley Daviau
I’m kind of in the middle with this one, I thoroughly enjoyed some parts and other parts left me feeling quite bored. One of the things I enjoyed the most is that it felt like King was sitting in my living room and we were just chatting and sharing opinions. It’s like he was talking directly to the reader and it was great. I also really enjoyed the sections on horror books and movies but the sections on radio and television just didn’t capture my attention in the same way. This is definitely a ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Stephen King book--I've read it considerably more times than any of his other works. I don't think it's any secret what makes this book so enjoyable--it's really what makes all of his books work--his storytelling power. He has such a friendly, compelling narrative voice--it's like he's casually sharing secrets with you, and you can't wait to hear what he has to say next.

It might help to enjoy DANSE MACABRE if you are a horror fiction/film fanatic, but then again, it might
Jamie Stewart
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began buying discount Stephen King hardcovers as a teen. “Danse Macabre” is a serious essay about horror literature and films, from the 1950s to this 1981 publication. This treatise has given me invaluable education. Understand how thorough, organized, and insightful this work is when I say: I am no horror fan! I must have originally been drawn to one of his more ghostly novels. I give 4 stars because drier fact segments resulted in taking 6 months to read this. My 400-page hardcover ...more
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who is curious about the horror genre
When I first picked this up, I had seen the Johnny Depp adaptation of "Secret Window[, Secret Garden]" (the movie cut out the last half of the title) and, though the movie was far from excellent, I realized that there was more to the horror genre and to Stephen King in particular than I had previously thought. This book showed me the light.

Since reading this treatise on the genre, I have started actively seeking out more horror fiction than any other type of fiction and write almost exclusively
Alan Scott
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: horror fanatics
This book is truly nothing more than Stephen King riffing sloppily (as hell) about the "horror genre." There is no pretense of scholarship, and it has a folky tone which makes it quite easy to imagine what it must have been like back in the day when King got a twelve pack of beer in him, had smoked a joint, and done enough lines of coke to get him on a never ending jag about "the deal" with the genre: to put it bluntly, its about as tight as "the blob," it's rambling, and it's also somewhat ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read - an impressionistic literary journey through Steve's life and his experiences with horror. I came to know about EC Comics through this book, and I recently located its most terrifying story as endorsed by King (Foul Play) online. Made me sad that I was not born in America: especially before the comics code was implemented.
"This book is only my ramble through that world, through all the worlds of fantasy and horror that have delighted and terrified me….It’s a dance. And sometimes they turn off the lights in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark. May I have the pleasure?" ~Stephen King
I first read Danse Macabre when I was seventeen, and while I gobbled it up, there was a lot that just went right over my head unappreciated at the time. Even though I was well on my
Mike (the Paladin)
Probably my favorite King book. It gives a lot of insight into Mr. King himself as well as into what he thinks about the writing.

Let me update and expand on this a little. I found (back when I read it) that it gave me a lot of insight (at least I think it did) into Mr. King. (Of course he may be chuckling at that and saying..."so you think. You have fallen into my trap"...just a thought). With biographical sketches, stories from life and tales of his own writing experience it's well worth the
Richard Jalbert
It's nice to see what putrified kindling helped build King's fire in the Horror Genre. I am looking forward to reading some of the books he referenced, Jack Finney: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Third Level, Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House, and Richard Matheson: The Incredible Shrinking Man. So many books ,so little time.
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay. It's difficult to really review a book about the state of horror as a genre when that book was first written back in 1981. With that said, my real issues with the book are not really the book's outdatedness. My big issue is that the book doesn't really seem to make a point and support it. It's more like getting high with one of your favorite writers and then just sitting and listening to him talk.

Some things that crossed my mind as I read this book:

1) It's actually kind of cool to hear
Stephen King gives us an insight into the world of horror, science fiction film and essential reading. I love nearly all his fiction work and his non-fiction novel On Writing was such a great insider view on his writing world. This one is more ramblings and at times became annoying yes he writes good stories but hearing one too many rambles on his view of film and fiction might not really be that captivating for other readers also. He mentions the three important horror classics the vampire, the ...more
Nick Iuppa
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before King became a successful writer, he supported himself as a teacher including a stint at the University of Mane. His book On Writing gives us a chance to understand what it would be like to have Mr. King teach composition. Dance Macabre gives us a pretty good understand of what one of his courses on the history of literature would be like, and, of course, this would be a course in the history of horror, Si-Fi, and fantasy literature and we’d have to expand our definition to include horror ...more

Come On Everybody - Eddie Cochran
The Stranger - Billy Joel
La Traviata - Giuseppe Verdi
Chuck Berry (Route 66)
Little Richard (Rip It Up)
With A Little Help From My Friends - The Beatles
Marty Robbins (El Paso)
Pink Peg Slacks - Eddie Cochran
Back Door Man - Howlin’ Wolf
Ramones (I’m Affected)
Linda Ronstadt (You’re No Good)
Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)
Little Deuce Coupe (The Beach Boys)
Eric Clapton (After Midnight)
Jimmy Hendrix (Voodoo Child)
Janis Joplin (Maybe)
Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly)
Sherry (sethurner)
I was in a bookstore in Bangor, Maine looking at all the foreign editions of this book when a teenager mumbled that Danse Macabre is Stephen King's worst book. I beg to differ. This is a nonfiction analysis of the horror genre, both fiction and film, and it was really interesting to me. In fact, I photocopied the suggested reading in the back of the book and worked my way through the lists - it took about five years. I'm sure it's out of date, and that many of the titles he suggests are even ...more
Ben Loory
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a really fun book even though it doesn't tell you anything new about horror. i mean unless you've never thought about horror at all. king is just such a great storyteller, it's all the side-tracks and footnotes and tossed-off stuff which makes the book so interesting.

also i need to read some davis grubb. gerald kersh. and james herbert.

and i really need to finally see dementia-13. why haven't i seen that. major failing

Andre Gonzalez
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like non-fiction books from fiction authors, but if you're a fan of horror, this is a must read! Even with some of the material outdated, many of the topics that Stephen King discusses still remain relevant in the genre today. This book felt as if Stephen was sitting with you on the front porch and spilling his thoughts!
Amirhosein Ghazi
It'll give you some good information on the horror genre... But... It's damn BORING if you don't have some readings or movies background. Three stars for just King's name on the cover.. Lol... Kidding.
Quentin Wallace
I put this one off literally for decades. It was the only "major" Stephen King book I'd never read. Well now I have.

I kept putting this one off because it was non-fiction and I was afraid I'd find it dry. And...I found it dry. It just seemed a little plodding, although still entertaining.

This is basically a long essay on horror focusing on the years 1950-1980. King covers all the mediums as in Radio, TV, movies and books. It just seemed a little plodding to me as he gives an analysis on each
Stefan Yates
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephen-king
This book length essay on the horror genre turned out to be much more entertaining than I expected. Even when writing a nonfiction genre-study, King cannot avoid being King. His goofy sense of humor, absolute frankness, and the occasional crass comment made me feel more like I was having a beer with the guy and discussing books than sitting in a lecture hall. King fans who want to hear where he gets his inspirations from and what authors/films he has taken enjoyment from will get a lot out of ...more
Wayne Barrett
Very well written, but the book was written 34 years ago so the subject matter concerning the horror genre is way outdated. Much of the book is also an autobiography which is interesting but if you have read, 'On Writing', there's not much new here. Unless you are an avid fan such as myself I wouldn't recommend the book.
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Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, ...more
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“We fall from womb to tomb, from one blackness and toward another, remembering little of the one and knowing nothing of the other ... except through faith.” 59 likes
“we need ghost stories because we, in fact, are the ghosts.” 51 likes
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