King, Stephen: Four Past Midnight
(researched by Sami Shah)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
First Published in 1990 by Viking Penguin. Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., Address: 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA. Copyright Stephen King, 1990. Illustrations copyright Viking Penguin.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
Cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
783 pages. All pages containing the "stories" are numbered. The 6 introductory pages are not numbered. Nor are the pages containing illustrations that start each novella.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Introduced by Stephen King. Design by Amy Hill Illustrations by Lars Hokanson Set in Garamond No. 3 and Latin Bold Extra Condensed Two quotes taken with permission from "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Picket and Steve Cropper. Dedications: The Langoliers: This is for Joe, another white-knuckle flier. Secret Window, Secret Garden: This if for Chuck Verill. The Library Policeman: This is for the staff and patrons of the Pasadena Public Library. The Sun Dog: This is in memory of John D. MacDonald. I miss you, old friend - and you were right about the tigers.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Illustrations by Lars Hokanson Set in Garamond No. 3 and Latin Bold Extra Condensed
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Book is broken into four parts, each part composed of one complete novella. Each novella into chapters. Straight up Midnight An Introductory Note One Past Midnight A Note on "The Langoliers" The Langoliers Chapter One Bad News for Captain Engle. The Little Blind Girl. The Lady's Scent. The Dalton Gang Arrives in Tombstone. The Strange Plight of Flight 29. (8 numbered sections) Chapter Two Darkness and Mountains. The Treasure Trove. Crew-Neck's Node. The Sound of No Dogs Barking. Panic Is Not Allowed. A Change of Destination. (10 numbered sections) Chapter Three The Deductive Method. Accidents and Statistics. Speculative Possibilities. Pressure in the Trenches. Bethany's Problem. The Descent Begins. (8 numbered sections) Chapter Four In the Clouds. Welcome to Bangor. A Round of Applause. The Slide and the Conveyor Belt. The Sound of No Phones Ringing. Craig Toomy Makes a Side-Trip. The Little Blind Girl's Warning. (12 numbered sections) Chapter Five A Book of Matches. The Adventure of the Salami Sandwich. Another Example of the Deductive Method. The Arizona Jew Plays the Violin. The Only Sound In Town. (9 numbered sections) Chapter Six Stranded. Betahny's Matches. Two-Ways Traffic Ahead. Albert's Experiment. Nightfall. The Dark and the Blade. (13 numbered sections) Chapter Seven Dinah in the Valley of the Shadow. The Fastes Toaster East of the Mississippi. Racing Against Time. Nick Makes a Decision. (17 numbered sections) Chapter Eight Refuelling. Dawn's Early Light. The Approach of the Langoliers. Angel of the Morning. The Time-keepers of Eternity. Take-off. (26 numbered sections) Chapter Nine Goodbye to Bangor. Heading West Through Days and Nights. Seeing Thhrough the Eyes of Others. The Endless Gulf. The Rip. The Warning. Brian's Decision. The Landing. Shooting Stars Only. (32 numbered sections) Two Past Midnight A Note on "Secret Window, Secret Garden" Secret Window, Secret Garden 50 Numbered Sections Epilogue Three Past Midnight A Note on "The Library Policeman" The Library Policeman Chapter One: The Stand-In Chapter Two: The Library (I) Chapter Three: Sam's Speech Chapter Four: The Missing Books Chapter Five: Angle Street (I) Chapter Six: The Library (II) Chapter Seven: Night Terrors Chapter Eight: Angle Street (II) Chapter Nine: The Library Policeman (I) Chapter Ten: Chron-o-lodge-ick-a-lee Speeking Chapter Eleven: Dave's Story Chapter Twelve: By Air to Des Moines Chapter Thirteen: The Library Policeman (II) Chapter Fourteen: The Library (III) Chapter Fifteen: Angle Street (III) Four Past Midnight A Note on "The Sun Dog" The Sun Dog Twenty-four numbered Chapters Epilogue
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Slightly textured paper that has yellowed a bit with age.
11 Description of binding(s)
Trade Binding, stitched, backing glued.
12 Transcription of title page
Four Past Midnight.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Original manuscripts at the University of Maine, Special Collections, Folger Library.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Book has an "Also by Stephen King" section in front. Two title pages, one is plain with "Four Past Midnight" written simply while the other is a doubla-page spread with an illustration.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The first American edition was published with a cloth cover. Four Past Midnight (BOMC no ISBN, Sep '90, $19.95, 713pp, hc, cover by Rob Wood-Stansbury) Reprint (Viking 1990) collection of four novellas. This edition differs from the original by a special BOMC mark on the back and the lack of an ISBN and price. Four Past Midnight (Hodder & Stoughton 0-340-53526-1, Oct '90, £14.99, 676pp, hc) Reprint (Viking 1990) collection of four very long horror novellas, each almost a book in itself, ranging from the good to the brilliant. Four Past Midnight (Penguin/Signet 0-451-17038-5, Sep '91 [Aug '91], $6.99, 744pp, pb) Reprint (Viking 1990) collection of four novellas with an introduction by the author. Four Past Midnight (NEL 0-450-54288-2, Oct '91, £5.99, 930pp, pb) Reprint (Viking 1990) collection of four original short horror novels. Recommended. (PSP) Four Past Midnight (BOMC/QPBC no ISBN, Nov '91, $11.95, 800pp, tp, cover by Rob Wood-Stansbury) Reprint (Viking 1990) collection of four novellas with an introduction by the author. This is identical to the Viking edition except it lacks an ISBN and price and has the dust jacket printed as the soft cover. Four Past Midnight: Featuring The Langoliers (Penguin/Signet 0-451-18597-8, May '95 [Apr '95], $6.99, 744pp, pb) Reissue (Viking 1990) collection of four novellas. This is packaged as a tie-in to the TV miniseries, and is subtitled "Featuring The Langoliers" with the story's title in larger type than the book's. This has a new cover and an ISBN we have not listed before, but is marked as the 13th printing.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Reported first printing of hardback first edition: 1,500,000 copies.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Paperback Mass Market Edition printed under NAL/Dutton 08/91. Paperback Mass Market Edition printed under Macmillan Library Reference 09/91. Paperback Mass Market Edition printed under New American Library; ISBN: 0451170385 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.72 x 6.93 x 4.52. Paperback edition printed under the title "Minuit 2/Four Past Midnight" by J Ai Lu Editions 06/94. Paperback edition released by Signet 06/91 as Stephen King, No. 9: Four Past Midnight, Needful Things no longer in print
6 Last date in print?
Still in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
First Printing 1.5 million copies
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
N/A
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
N/A
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
$50,000 advertising cost.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
One novella "The Sun Dog" on Cassette by Penguin Audio Books 09/91 6 cassettes One novella under the title "One Past Midnight: The Langoliers" on Casette by Penguin Audio Books 12/90. "The Langoliers", Republic Entertainment, 1995 2 videocassettes (180 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in. NOTES: Based on the novella "Four Past Midnight" by Stephen King. Hi-fi Dolby surround stereo. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. Rated PG-13. Teleplay and direction by Tom Holland, produced by David Kapps. Patricia Wettig, Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Mark Lindsay Chapmahn, Bronson Pinchot. On a flight from LA to Boston 10 passengers awake from a nap to find that all the other passengers have vanished...and the ground below them is only..ground. Once they land the situation doesn't improve. No one is there..the air is still..the clocks have stopped..and a dread, evil presence bent on the destruction is headed straight for them. VHS. Directed by: Tom Holland. Starring: Patricia Wettig, Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Frankie Faison, Baxter Harris, Kimber Riddle, Christopher Collet, Kate Maberly
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
"Four Past Midnight" has, like all King books, been widely translated. The book and its four novellas have been translated into 31 languages in total including: Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Russian, Finnish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Swedish, Turkish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish, Japanese, Hungarian, Icelandic, Catalan, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Slovene, and Ukranian. While it is not possible to get precise biographical information for all the translated versions below a series of examples of the form these translations take. -TITLE: Bibliotechnaia politsiia ; Nesushchii smert? : vtoraia chast? knigi "Chetyre posle polunochi" (Russian) PUBLISHER: AST, YEAR: 1998 FORMAT: 507 p. ; 21 cm. NOTES: Translation of: Four past midnight, bk. 2: The library policeman -- The sun dog. -TITLE: Czwarta po pÛlnocy (Polish) PUBLISHER: Zysk i S-ka, YEAR: 1998 FORMAT: 791 p. ; 19 cm. -TITLE: Toshokan keisatsu = Four past midnight II (Japanese) PUBLISHER: Bungei Shunju, YEAR: 1996 FORMAT: 415 p. ; 22 cm. NOTES: Toshokan keisatsu = The library policeman -- San doggu = The sun dog. -TITLE: Ventana secreta, jardÌn secreto (Spanish) EDITION: 1a. impresion Signet, ed. espaÒol PUBLISHER: Signet, YEAR: 1995 1992 FORMAT: 204 p. ; 18 cm. NOTES: Translation of: Secret window, secret garden. -TITLE: Cuatro despues de la medianoche El perro sun (Spanish) PUBLISHER: Dove Audio, YEAR: 1995 PUB TYPE: Recording FORMAT: 4 sound cassettes (ca. 3 hr.,30 min.) : analog, Dolby processed. NOTES: "Version completa"--Container. In one container. Translation of: Sun dog (excerpted from the bestseller: Four past midnight). En la voz de Jaime Ortiz Pino.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
The story "The Sun Dog" is a sequel of sorts in that it is centered in the fictional town of Castle Rock where King often bases stories.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Due to his being one of the most successful authors of the 20th century, there is no shortage of Stephen King biographies available. To add another one here would be, therefore, quite unnecessary. To read the official biography of the authors life one need simply go to his website: http://www.stephenking.com/man_printsnice.html What would be more interesting then, is how the Master of Macabre came to write "Four Past Midnight". In 1982 Stephen King published his first quartet of Novellas under the title "Different Seasons". Three out of these four stories were not horror (the genre King has been pigeon-holed into) and this book proved to be extremely lucky for King. Three out of the four stories in this book have since been turned into highly successful and critically acclaimed movies. For this reason, when "Four Past Midnight" was released it was welcomed eagerly by audiences. Interestingly enough, all four stories in this book are horror. They are also involved with Time in some way or another and most of the Introductory note (titled "Straight up Midnight") King writes for this book details his perception of the passage of time. Also, in 1987 King took two years off from publishing. When he returned in 1989 his first outing was "The Dark Half". This book, while commercially successful, disappointed audiences in that it wasn't quite what they expected and wanted. The readership was looking forward to standard Stephen King horror stories and between 1989's "The Dark Half" and the reprinting of an expanded but already read "The Stand" they found themselves wanting more. Wanting the kind of horror they had come to expect from Stephen King. Therefore when "Four Past Midnight" was released it was made clear from the outset by both writer and publisher that this was a book containing not one but four Stephen King stories (novellas) written as good slid horror stories that people expected from the writer. The Langoliers: In the introduction to this novella King describes how each story idea he gets comes with its own "bright central image". In this case it was an image of "a woman pressing her hand over a crack in the wall of a commercial jetline." King's stories are famous for their recognizable settings, mostly centered around Maine, as in the conclusion of this story he had the characters landing safely in Bangor, Maine. Interestingly, this is the same city where King himself lives, and as such the sense of comfort that might be derived from reaching that destination could be how King himself feels when he finally touches down to the city he calls "home." Also King often criticizes himself for being lazy when it comes to details and research (critics have often leveled the same criticism against him) therefore when he does do extensive research he points it out to the readers. "The Langoliers" obviously required a great deal of research to get the details of piloting a commercial aircraft and King. The story took a month to write, in which time Stephen King also did a great deal of research regarding all the technical aspects of the story although he admits to using some artistic license in the story. Secret Window, Secret Garden: King describes this as his last story about writers and writing. The story itself was inspired by two separate events; the first was coming across plot elements while writing "The Dark Half" that could be approachable from a "different angle." Then in the Fall of 1987 he looked out of a small window in the laundry room of his house onto a patch of lawn he saw daily but looked different from this new view. That's when he came up with the title for the novella. "The Dark Half" released the year before by King did not do as well in terms of popularity as he had hoped. It's entire spin on the writers use of a pseudonym sprung from King's own earlier use of the name Richard Bachman to publish novels that might not be standard Stephen King fare. While "Secret Window, Secret Garden" isn't about pseudonym's it does examine the relationship of the writer with that which he writes and the personification of some aspects of the writers mind. More interestingly, the story also details the characters attempts to get published as while a student and to get recognized as a writer with skill. And how that recognition initially came through a short horror story. King's own first published story was while he was in high-school. It was titled "I was a teenage grave robber". Since then King has become famous as a horror writer although from time to time he writes stories that are non-horror ("The Body", "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", "Heart's in Atlantis"). King's fictional writer in "Secret Window Secret Garden" yearns to write more horror stories like the one he got started with, and inversely, King tries (from time to time) non-horror stories unlike the horror ones that he got famous for. The Library Policeman: Inspired by a conversation with his son Owen who was afraid to return a book late to the library due to the "Library Policeman" coming and punishing him, King wrote this story intending it to be a short humorous piece. Instead it turned into a much longer, darker story, in the same way that "Christine" and "Apt Pupil" did. King has often dealt with the theme of instinctual irrational fears being real. From his recent "Ride the bullet" e-book which takes on the dangers of hitchhiking, to the monster in the closet in "Cujo" to the fully realized personification of every childhood horror that was in "IT". King himself claims to still suffer from the fears of his childhood. He swears in many interviews that he always checks under the bed before sleeping and while sleeping makes sure his limbs are under the blanket and away from the edge of the bed. Therefore it is not surprising that he was interested with the concept of a "library policeman" and that the story turned a great deal darker than intended. The Sun Dog: Inspired in the summer of 1987 by his wife, Tabitha King's, photography hobby and a Polaroid camera she used, King set this story in his famous fictional town of Castle Rock. This is a story which introduces some behind-the-scenes characters who in other Castle Rock novels were important. It also sets the stage for the final Castle Rock story released in 1991 "Needful Things". The most notable aspect of this story is King's return to "Castle Rock" in it. This is a fictional town he created early in his career and has since become quite comfortable in it. This is clear from the easy characterization King manages in this tale. Also keeping in mind that "Needful Things" was being released soon as the last Castle Rock story King wrote this tale with affection for the environment it was set in.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Stephen King's "Four Past Midnight" did not surprise anyone by making it to the top of the Bestsellers list for the year 1990. Neither was it to surprising to see it debut at number 1 on the list in September of 1990, the month that it was released. By this point Stephen King was comfortable established as a best-seller powerhouse. But this commercial success did little to endear him with his critics. Andy Solomon in his NewYork Times BookReview article holds no criticism back when he says that "everyone knows Stephen King's flaws : tone-deaf narration, papier-mache characters, cliches, gratitious vulgarity, self-indulgent digressions." The majority of the reviews are the same, sarcastic and contemptious, i.e. "We dont read Stephen King for common sense, originality or insight into the adult world." (NYTimes Book Review). But interestingly enough all reviewers agree on the fact that King is "above all a master storyteller" (Michael A. Morrison in the Washington Post). And while compliments for Kings work are hard to come by and often administered grudgingly they are nevertheless present (albeit few and far inbetween), "Once again he proves difficult to lay down" (Stephen King's America).

Almost all readers, both general public and literary critics, are agreed that out of the entire novel, the first novella "The Langoliers" is the best and "Secret Window Secret Garden" is the worst. All others manage to exploit the "primal infant fears" (NYTimes). Therefore it is a safe assumption that "Four Past Midnight" did not receive the kind of (sometimes grudging) literary acclaim as some of his other books, i.e. It, The Stand, Misery, etc. But it will be remembered as standard King fare: "to re-experience the more innocent terrors of childhood."

Sources: Andy Solomon. The New York Times. September 2, 1990. Gary Hoppenstand in an interview by Jonathan P. Davis published in "Stephen King's America" Michael A. Morrison. The Washington Post. August 26, 1990.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Stephen King's "Four Past Midnight" did not surprise anyone by making it to the top of the Bestsellers list for the year 1990. Neither was it to surprising to see it debut at number 1 on the list in September of 1990, the month that it was released. By this point Stephen King was comfortable established as a best-seller powerhouse. But this commercial success did little to endear him with his critics. Andy Solomon in his NewYork Times BookReview article holds no criticism back when he says that "everyone knows Stephen King's flaws : tone-deaf narration, papier-mache characters, cliches, gratitious vulgarity, self-indulgent digressions." The majority of the reviews are the same, sarcastic and contemptious, i.e. "We dont read Stephen King for common sense, originality or insight into the adult world." (NYTimes Book Review). But interestingly enough all reviewers agree on the fact that King is "above all a master storyteller" (Michael A. Morrison in the Washington Post). And while compliments for Kings work are hard to come by and often administered grudgingly they are nevertheless present (albeit few and far inbetween), "Once again he proves difficult to lay down" (Stephen King's America).

Almost all readers, both general public and literary critics, are agreed that out of the entire novel, the first novella "The Langoliers" is the best and "Secret Window Secret Garden" is the worst. All others manage to exploit the "primal infant fears" (NYTimes). Therefore it is a safe assumption that "Four Past Midnight" did not receive the kind of (sometimes grudging) literary acclaim as some of his other books, i.e. It, The Stand, Misery, etc. But it will be remembered as standard King fare: "to re-experience the more innocent terrors of childhood."

Sources: Andy Solomon. The New York Times. September 2, 1990. Gary Hoppenstand in an interview by Jonathan P. Davis published in "Stephen King's America" Michael A. Morrison. The Washington Post. August 26, 1990.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The commercial success of "Four Past Midnight" was guaranteed even before publication begun if for no other reason than that it's author was Stephen King. King falls into that small but envied group of writers whose work sells solely through authors branding and the publishers marketing. His contemporaries in that group are other house-hold names like Danielle Steele, Michael Chricton and John Grisham. These are writers who managed to find and insert that quality or content into their books that reading audiences loved. That was the basis of their initial success and over time the authors have expected to stay within these self-marked boundaries. Basically, the reading audience knows that their favorite author will, more likely sooner than later, come out with a book that is concocted from that standard recipe which initially made them famous. With Grisham audiences expect a legal drama, with Chricton its science fiction and with King it's good adventurous horror (albeit more the latter than the former). Therefore when in 1989 King decided to return from a two year break from publishing and the audience was given his disappointing "The Dark Half" to read they found their need for Stephen King-style-horror unfulfilled. Then in 1990, King published his next book "Four Past Midnight" which contained not one but four stories all written in the standard King style that audiences clamored for and that had made him famous in the first place. King had published novella's once before as well, and they had done extremely well, both critically and commercially. His previous offering, "Different Seasons" had been published in 1982, and like "Four Past Midnight" contained four novellas. He had also, since then, made known his skill at short stories compilations of which readers had enjoyed a great deal. Therefore, for the fans who had been starved for Stephen King stories (three years without a book to enjoy from King, as opposed to the previous decade or so when he had at least one book out every year in the successful style they enjoyed), "Four Past Midnight" was exactly what they had been craving. King's most popular skill is his suspenseful horror. He writes stories that frighten people not through gore and violence, although there is a fair amount of that as well, but prominently through the build up in mystery and suspense. These elements work all the more successfully when you realize that King knows exactly what scares people on a base instinctual level. After all, King has his own fare share of "phobias" having admitted a rather large list of phobias he is victim to himself: "Fear for someone else, fear of others (paranoia), fear of death, fear of insects (especially spiders, flies, and beetles), fear of closed-in places, fear of rats, fear of snakes, fear of deformity, fear of squishy things , fear of the dark" (http://www.horrorking.com). This coupled with his ability to put a spin on seemingly harmless everyday things and making them appear sinister seems to work very well in his books. It is this combination that he employs in the novellas in "Four Past Midnight". ?The Langoliers", the first story, makes sleeping on an airline flight dangerous, ""The Library Policeman" will have you thinking twice about checking a book out of the library and "The Sun Dog" makes the reader look at camera's in a whole new way. This same technique of creating horror is what readers look forward in Dean Koontz novels and even, to an extent in Anne Rice novels; The feeling of a world that is darker and more dangerous existing just under our everyday normal world. The same formula can indeed be translated to other genres and authors, i.e. Ian Fleming's spy novels, Tom Clancy, even Michael Chricton. These authors take everyday elements of our lives and spin them into wholly new, oft fantastical, and always interesting new things. Another element common with authors who fall into the house-hold name bracket ,that King is a part of, is their easy-to-read books. Audiences read King, or Chricton or Steele expecting to be told a good story. They don't want literature or intellectualism. The plots are straightforward, the prose relatively uncomplicated. Readers can relate to the characters of the stories and that is part of the attraction. These are books that are written for entertainment, not scholarly appreciation. It is this universally understandable technique that defined the success of books like "Pollyana" early in the century, "Exorcist" later and even today the average John Grisham law story. These writers are not attempting at literary elitism and as such the mass audience appreciates them for it. Another appeal that King works into this book and, indeed, all his others almost, is common ties between novels. In a later novel, "Bag of Bones" King makes mention of the fact that readers love reading about common characters. Indeed it brings about in the readers a sense of familiarity for the world that stories take place in. Therefore it is no surprise that in "Secret Window, Secret Garden" King makes mention of Derry (the town in which "IT" took place) and in "The Sun Dog" there are many characters common to the Castle Rock locale that he had made famous: Polly Chalmers, Alan Pangborn, Norris Ridgewick, Shawshank Prison, The Town of Castle Rock, The Mellow Tiger Bar, Juniper Hill Asylum and The town of Portland. Many "Constant Reader's" (as King refers to them in his introductions) look forward to reading about these familiar people and places. What is really interesting is Stephen King the phenomenon himself. Part of the appeal of his books is attributed a great deal with the publics fascination with him, with Stephen King the man. In an America, that in the eighties and nineties became celebrity obsessed, Stephen King's rags-to-riches life is exactly the kind that captures the average Americans imagination: "Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in l947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents separated when Stephen was a toddler, 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. Stephen and his brother paid frequent visits to members of his mother's family in Malden, Massachusetts, and Pownal, Maine. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of the elderly couple. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the retarded. Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in l966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in l970, with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured ear drums. He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of l97l. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a sho"rt story sale to men's magazines. Stephen made his first short story sale to a mass market men's magazine shortly after his graduation from the University. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies. In the fall of l97l, Stephen began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of l973, Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication. On Mother's Day of that year, Stephen learned from his new editor at Doubleday, Bill Thompson, that a major paperback sale would provide him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time. After having lived in and around Bangor since their marriage, the Kings moved their growing family to southern Maine because of Stephen's mother's failing health at the end of the summer of l973. Renting a summer home on Sebago Lake in North Windham for the winter, Stephen wrote his next-published novel, originally titled Second Coming and then Jerusalem's Lot, before it became ?Salem's Lot, in a small room in the garage. During this period, Stephen's mother died of cancer, at the age of 59. Carrie was published in the spring of l974. That same fall, the Kings left Maine for Boulder, Colorado." (Written in part by Tabitha King,, http://www.stephenking.com) From living in that trailer when "Carrie" was published to ranking amongst the top 40 highest paid entertainers in America, (Forbes 1998) King's is exactly the kind of story that fascinates people. "Four Past Midnight" was also made popular because of the format of its stories. Instead of one novel this was a compilation of four novellas. King had published a compilation of novellas once before with his "Different Seasons" (1982). This book had been wildly successful, in part due to the non-horror stories King had published in it and in part due to the format. King defined the novella as an author's no-man's-land. Amidst the realm of 25,000 to 35,000 words there exists, in King's opinion, the somewhat awkward hybrid of the novel and the short story. Then in 1985, four short novels originally written by him under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman were compiled and republished by NAL in an omnibus edition. Again, these were four Stephen King stories published in one compilation. Therefore, when "Four Past Midnight" came out for a King-starved readership, the prospect of getting four Stephen King horror stories for the same price as one large novel was exactly the incentive they needed to drive sales through the roof. Even marketing of the book was done to take advantage of this popularity. Ad's made clear that these were good solid horror stories in the Stephen King style that was famous. The cover had the authors name adorned in bold large white capital letters, even larger than the name of the book. Advertisement's stated: "Past midnight, something happens to time, that fragile concept we employ to order our sense of reality. It blends, stretches, turns back, or snaps, and sometimes reality snaps with it. And what happens to the wide-eyed observer when the window between reality and unreality shatters, and the glass begins to fly. These four chilling novellas provide shocking answers." With "The Dark Half" fans of King didn't know quite what to expect and found themselves let down by the end of the novel. This time the publishers were making sure that fans got exactly what they yearned for. Interestingly, one of the stories in the compilation, "Secret Window Secret Garden" was thematically very similar to "The Dark Half". Both were written from the point of view of a writer who was successful and who was haunted by an aspect of himself. It is almost as if "Secret Window Secret Garden" was a result of some left-over ideas from "The Dark Half" and maybe an attempt to get the story that readers disliked earlier into a format that they might enjoy. But in the end, the main lesson that "Four Past Midnight" teaches us is that a book written in the formula that a famous author is expected to write in will always have a large audience. People love their standard fare of stories, and writers like Stephen King are more than happy to provide just that. Works consulted: --------------- King, Stephen. Four Past Midnight. Viking. New York, 1990. Magistrale, Tony. Stephen King, The Second Decade. Twayne Publishers. New York, 1992. Andy Solomon. The New York Times. September 2, 1990. Gary Hoppenstand in an interview by Jonathan P. Davis published in "Stephen King's America" Michael A. Morrison. The Washington Post. August 26, 1990 The Stephen King Home Page: www.stephenking.com. www.horrorking.com
Supplemental Material
There are two major errors in the entry on "Different Seasons" by David Perkinson. The first is the part that says: >"In fact, the text attributing the story to Stephen King >does not appear until the very end of the film's closing >credits, and then only in the most minute print." > >They actually credit King at the start of the film. Just in >the first few opening moments of the film it says, in small >pring though, that the movie was adapted from "Rita >Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption". >Just thought that would be worth mentioning. > >Also, the entry makes no mention of the movie mad on the >fourth novella in the book "The Breathing Method". Frank >Darabont, the director of Shawshank Redemption actually >made a small movie on the novella while as a student in a >film school (King has a deal by which students and such can >make small budget adaptations of his stories for the price >of $1.00). The movie did quite well at several indie film >festivals and won some awards. it never made it big but >does nevertheless.
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