Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Salem's Lot

Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
3427339
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: horror

 photo Salems-Lot-Barlow_zpskagsbdny.jpg
From the 1979 movie version of Salem’s Lot

”It would be years before I would hear Alfred Bester’s axiom ‘the book is the boss,’ but I didn’t need to; I learned it for myself writing the novel that eventually became Salem’s Lot. Of course, the writer can impose control; it’s just a really shitty idea. Writing controlled fiction is called ‘plotting.’ Buckling your seatbelt and letting the story take over, however...that is called ‘storytelling.’ Storytelling is as natural as breathing; plotting is the literary version of artificial respiration.”

This nugget of wisdom is shared by Stephen King in the introduction to the 2005 illustrated edition of Salem’s Lot. I have to say that I completely agree with this philosophy. I have talked to many would-be writers who are so bogged down in getting the outline of their story completely figured out that they never actually get to the writing part of the process. I like having a few concepts in my head before I start whacking away at that mesmerizing whiteness of the blank page, but if I have it all figured out,...then why write it? The fun part is discovering the nuances of the maze before I find the exit.

Stephen King grew up in a small town in New England, and it seems like he has been waging war on small towns every since. ”There’s little good in sedentary small towns. Mostly indifference spiced with an occasional vapid evil--or worse, a conscious one. I believe Thomas Wolfe wrote about seven pounds of literature about that.” I, too, grew up in a small town and fully intend, in the scope of my writing, to eviscerate some of the more heinous aspects of small town “values.”

I love Paul Bettany’s line from the movie Knight’s Tale. Chaucer: “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.” I always like to say that my career is littered with the corpses of my enemies.(Hyperbole) Just a word of warning for those still breathing: I will reveal you for the bloody bastards/bitches you are in my fiction. If you think it isn’t you...it probably is. #evillaughwahaha

Jerusalem’s Lot is that typical small town that King loves to destroy on a regular basis, and this time his weapon is...vampires. The Marsten House, the scene of unspeakable tragedies, has been left empty for many years. It is a grand mansion falling into ruin by the very evilness that seems to fester in the walls and the rafters clear down to the bedrock. Ben Mears has come back to town to write about the place and intends to actually stay on the premises, but learns on his arrival that the house has been sold. Who would really want to stay there anyway? ”The house smelled. You wouldn’t believe how it smelled. Mildew and upholstery rot and a kind of rancid smell like butter that had gone over. And living things--rats or woodchucks or whatever else that had been nesting in the walls or hibernating in the cellar. A yellow, wet smell.”

The Marsten House is the perfect place for a vampire named Barlow and his assistant R. T. Straker to take up residence. The first clue should have been the initials; remember Dracula’s assistant...R. M. Renfield. The one word name as well...Barlow…. What does he think—he is Prince?

Yes, he does, and much, much more. He is, ultimately, a God fashioning people in his own image.

As Barlow picks off the residents of Jerusalem's Lot one by one and turns them into an army of hungry vampires, a small band of misfits start to fight back. After all, who else, but the freaks and oddballs would believe that there really are vampires? ”An old teacher half-cracked with books, a writer obsessed with his childhood nightmares, a little boy who has taken a postgraduate course in vampire lore from the films and the modern penny-dreadfuls.”

Barlow has certainly had better men and women than these who have tried to destroy him. He has become overconfident and underestimates the courage and resolve of this disenfranchised band of eccentrics he is dealing with. Check out this condescending speech he lays on Ben Mears:

”Look and see me, puny man. Look upon Barlow, who has passed the centuries as you have passed hours before a fireplace with a book. Look and see the great creature of the night whom you would slay with your miserable little stick. Look upon me, scribbler. I have written in human lives, and blood has been my ink. Look upon me and despair!”

No one is more shocked than Stephen King that his idea for a vampire hoard destroying one of his loathed small towns turns into an inspiring, uplifting novel of the weak fighting back against the most powerful. It is a slow burn of a plot. King uses the early pages of the novel to let us get to know these people before we see them tested beyond normal human endurance. Fortunately, his working title of Second Coming was vetoed for the published title by his wife Tabitha who, rightly so, decided it would be a better title for a sex manual. It is a nice ode to the classic vampire myth and manages to add some original stake splattering moments to the genre. Salem’s Lot has become a classic of fanged literature. King proves his storytelling chops.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
172 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Salem's Lot.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

November 27, 2018 – Started Reading
November 27, 2018 – Shelved
November 27, 2018 – Shelved as: horror
December 13, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 56 (56 new)


Blair One of my favorites by King


Jeffrey Keeten Blair wrote: "One of my favorites by King"

I can understand why!


BellaThe-ParakeetGirl Another great review by a great author! Thanks Jeffrey!!


Jeffrey Keeten Thank you Bella!


Victoria I think this remains my favorite scary Stephen King work.


Jeffrey Keeten Good choice Victoria!


message 7: by Selena (new) - added it

Selena Great book! Glad you enjoyed it Jeffrey!


Jeffrey Keeten Thanks Selena! I’m glad you enjoyed it too!


Chris Nice review. I liked this one too!


Jeffrey Keeten Awesome! Thanks Chris!


message 11: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer One of my favorite King books as well.


Jeffrey Keeten 👍🏻 Jennifer!


message 13: by J.R. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J.R. The quote from King about plotting is spot on. This was the first King book I read and it remains a favorite, despite my not being much of a vampire or horror fan.


Jeffrey Keeten J.R. wrote: "The quote from King about plotting is spot on. This was the first King book I read and it remains a favorite, despite my not being much of a vampire or horror fan."

What's interesting J.R. is that America had a insatiable thirst for horror books in the 1980s. Then something happened in the 1990s and everyone started insisting that they don't read horror books so publishers quit marketing books as horror and quit designing those really fun garish covers. Thanks for killing my buzz America! Writers didn't quit writing horror books. Horror books are now sold as thrillers or other designations so my guess is that you might read more "horror" than you think you do. You might hear the term psychological thriller now more often to describe a book. The term horror must have became too terrifying for American readers. Notice how books in general for an American audience have very, very boring covers now? *sigh* I probably should change my HORROR shelf to psychological thrillers now that I think about it.


message 15: by J.R. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J.R. Jeffrey wrote: "J.R. wrote: "The quote from King about plotting is spot on. This was the first King book I read and it remains a favorite, despite my not being much of a vampire or horror fan."

What's interesting..."


Good point, Jeffrey. I think I tired of the excess of poorly written vampire/zombie tales. I still enjoy Poe (the master), Shirley Jackson and King, among others who write 'true' horror.


Jeffrey Keeten J.R. wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "J.R. wrote: "The quote from King about plotting is spot on. This was the first King book I read and it remains a favorite, despite my not being much of a vampire or horror fan."

Wh..."


When a particular sub-genre gets trendy the publishers start pushing out real crap to meet the demand. That probably also contributed to horror getting a bad rap with readers. If you ever get the hankering for a serious zombie book give World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War a try. The movie is loosely at best based on the book. I'm glad Brooks got the big pay day from Hollywood though!

Poe and Jackson are for sure psychological thrillers. I think people get the idea that horror is all slasher stuff.


message 17: by Chelsea (new) - added it

Chelsea Humphrey Excellent review Jeffrey! I really need to pick this one back up. I started with the audiobook and narrator grated on my nerves, so hard copy it will be!


message 18: by Jeffrey (last edited Dec 19, 2018 10:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeffrey Keeten Chelsea wrote: "Excellent review Jeffrey! I really need to pick this one back up. I started with the audiobook and narrator grated on my nerves, so hard copy it will be!"

Thank you Chelsea! Well as you know anybody reading a book to me grates on my nerves even if the narrator is brilliant. I still want to grab the book out of their hands and read it to myself. My own inner monologue, I think of him as someone along the lines of Jeeves, becomes offended and downright prickly if I don't use them.


Brittany (Lady Red) As a writer who gets a bit too into research myself, I’ve definitely taken King’s advice to heart. We write in very different genres, but good storytelling is beyond genre to me.


Jeffrey Keeten Brittany wrote: "As a writer who gets a bit too into research myself, I’ve definitely taken King’s advice to heart. We write in very different genres, but good storytelling is beyond genre to me."

That is true. It doesn't matter what genre you write in the advice is useful.


Marlin Daveiry Marlih


Marlin Daveiry Loye


Marlin Daveiry 😍😍😍😍😍😍💖💖💖💖😘😘😘


Marlin Daveiry 💕💕💕💕


Marlin Daveiry 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄


Marlin Daveiry Mdefogihrsloye


Marlin Daveiry MafEalN


Marlin Daveiry 👍💟


message 29: by Amber (new)

Amber awesome review, I enjoyed this one too.


message 30: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawicki Excellent review, Jeffrey. ‘Salem’s Lot is my favorite work of King’s and my favorite novel too. It has stood the test of time and I still enjoy reading it every so often. I particularly enjoyed reading the deleted scenes in the updated version of the book. Fascinating to contemplate how the addition of these scenes might have changed the story for the better or worse. I’m convinced the original story was perfect the way it was when submitted to Doubleday back in 1975.


Jeffrey Keeten Amber wrote: "awesome review, I enjoyed this one too."

Thanks Amber! I'm glad you liked it!


Jeffrey Keeten Mark wrote: "Excellent review, Jeffrey. ‘Salem’s Lot is my favorite work of King’s and my favorite novel too. It has stood the test of time and I still enjoy reading it every so often. I particularly enjoyed re..."

I agree. I believe the book was tight the way it was published. I remember one time I watched a movie with the deleted scenes put in the movie where they would have been and it was so distracting. It completely bogged down the movie. I much preferred the streamlined version. As much as it hurts writers to leave good writing on the cutting room floor sometimes it is just necessary for good storytelling to work. Thanks Mark!


message 33: by Dustin (new) - added it

Dustin Another impressive review, Jeffrey!


Jeffrey Keeten Thank you Dustin!


Marlin Daveiry 💖


Marlin Daveiry Dios


Marlin Daveiry 💓💖💖💖💖


Marlin Daveiry Loye


Marlin Daveiry Yo quisiera que me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Yo también se me olvidó decirte lo mismo con quien hablaras a ver para algún momento no hay un abrazo simple hecho que te conozco desde hace falta una andando


Marlin Daveiry Yo quisiera ser una andando


Marlin Daveiry Yo también a mi h Haciendo un abrazo o
Dios y me voy por ahí te amo mi vida en nada las personas existe
Dios 🎸🎤🎤🎤Tuyo que yo ver quien se lo he desayunado


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


Marlin Daveiry Me r
Lote en nada sirve para algún momento
Dios
Y Que Haces En Persona t
D Dime que me persiguió
Dios Y d donde irme me persiguió


« previous 1
back to top