I just saw a review of Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts in the paper. I think I’d go scour the bookstores for a copy of this. I haven’t read a good horror story in months.
The review said the collection “has been out of print until fairly recently”. Made me think it was one of those classics.
Then it turned out Joe Hill was born Joe Hill King. He is Stephen King’s son.
I didn’t know that. An article from the New York Times mentioned that King dedicated his novel, The Shining, to “Joe Hill King, who shines on.” I’ve read that novel maybe two years ago. I think I even remember seeing that dedication page. Sweet. Now that little kid’s a published author.
The last time I’ve been this shocked was when I read an article by Dave Barry, talking about how his son was doing in college. You see, I have a copy of Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of his columns in the 80s, or thereabouts, so when I read that much recent article I actually went, “Ay! College na pala siya!”
Ang tita na lang ng comment. :) But it seemed like yesterday – well, come to think of it, literally yesterday – I was just reading about Dave Barry’s son landing a role in the school play, and now he’s all grown up and lecturing his father about physics!
Anyway. From the NYT article:
When [Joe Hill] was about 12, The Bangor Daily News accepted an essay he submitted. “I was completely pumped,” he told me. “I felt like I was on the verge of major celebrity, and my excitement about the piece lasted right up until the day it was published. When I read it in the newspaper, I realized for the first time that it was full of trite ideas and windy writing. At the end, they had added a little postscript that said, ‘Joseph King is the son of best-selling novelist Stephen King,’ and when I read that I knew that was the only reason they published the piece. You know, at that age the fear of humiliation is probably worse than the fear of death, and not long afterward I started to think I should just write under a different name.”
When I asked Hill what it was like growing up in the King household, he quoted an old Jay Leno joke, which went, he said, something like this: Stephen King asks his kids, “Hey kids, you want to hear a bedtime story?” And the kids scream, “Noooooo.”
“But it wasn’t like that,” Hill explained. “My dad is a great storyteller, and we loved to have stuff read to us. As a family, my mom and my dad would sit down and the book would go around the circle — we’d sit and read all together. It sounds very 19th century, but it’s true.
Hill writes in two traditions that he would argue are artificially walled off from each other: genre fiction, with its emphasis on breakneck, often outrageous, plot and metaphor; and literary realism, which values detailed characterization, psychological depth and subtle epiphanies.
I just love how the author defined the traditions. Sounded accurate. :)
Photo from Joe Hill’s official website.