8. Salem’s Lot, Stephen King (1975)

I was very late to the party where Stephen King’s concerned: I first read him on holiday in Spain in 2007, and I’ve never stopped. I used to think ‘I don’t like horror’, period – but the minute I opened one of his books (Firestarter was the first) I was sucked in by the narrative power, the humour and the incredible depictions of vivid, raw characters. This is my favourite because it’s tightly plotted, unlike some of his more rambling works, and I love anything with vampires in. It’s the best example of how King uses genre as a way of depicting the way communities work – that’s always been his real subject, I think. I actually don’t find King ‘scary’ – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been scared by a book, not in the way I’ve been scared by films. I just think he offers one of the most complete, enjoyable reading experiences in later 20th-century fiction. He always puts the reader first – and that’s my definition of good writing. King’s On Writing is one of the very few books on the novelist’s art that’s worth bothering with.

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Filed under My top 100 novels

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