how Stephen King reinvented himself within the thriller | EUROtoday

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Stephen King can write something, and he's been proving it for precisely 50 years. Of horror (Carrie, Shining, That) to the intimate drama (Dolores Claiborne, Bag of bones, Joyland), via the historic fresco (11/22/63), the enchantment (The Eyes of the Dragon, Fairy story) or the implausible western (the saga The Dark Tower), the author from Maine, within the United States, has dipped his pen in lots of worlds. As labels die laborious, that of the King stays as we speak related to terror, whereas amongst his 70 revealed novels (and over a dozen collections of quick tales), lower than twenty are pure horror.

In 2014, the writer of Scourge tried as soon as once more to win this label by signing his very first thriller: Mr.Mercedes, the preliminary a part of a trilogy devoted to detective Bill Hodges, during which a secondary character received the hearts of followers, and that of King himself: Holly Gibney. Through this new creation, Stephen King has subsequently launched into a brand new problem for him: to turn out to be a real writer of thrillers.

READ ALSO Once upon a time there was (Stephen) KingFollowing the success of Mr.Mercedesthe author persevered within the style and revealed 5 others: Black notebooks, End of spherical, The outsider, If it bleeds and at last, Holly, launched Wednesday February 28 in France (by Albin Michel). The frequent level between these six novels, past the style, is the presence of Holly Gibney, a personality whose significance will increase all through the tales, till lastly changing into, in the latest, the true protagonist. Thanks to her, King reinvented himself within the eyes of a brand new technology of readers.

Holly Gibney, favourite heroine

In Hollyfollowers will subsequently discover detective Holly Gibney, nonetheless marked by the occasions of If it bleeds. We are in full lockdown within the United States, and the fifty-year-old has simply misplaced her mom – fiercely anti-vax – to Covid. To keep away from sinking into her grief, she agrees to analyze the disappearance of younger Bonnie Dahl. During her investigation, Holly discovers that this disappearance might be the work of a serial killer with obscure motivations. Perhaps essentially the most harmful Holly has ever encountered…

“It’s rare for him to become so attached to a character,” notes editor Anne Michel, who has been answerable for Stephen King novels for twelve years for Albin Michel. She had by no means seen the author so obsessive about one in every of his creations. Except the heroes of the saga The Dark Tower (accomplished in eight volumes), it’s the first time that one of many writer's protagonists seems in so many alternative books. Initially, a younger girl handicapped by her autistic issues and her tyrannical mom in Mr.Mercedesthen associate of Bill Hodges in Black notebooks and personal detective on the head of the Finders Keepers company in The outsiderHolly has come a good distance.

The growth of the character is intently linked to Stephen King's need to discover the thriller from all its angles. A alternative which, in 2014, drastically stunned early followers, beginning with Émilie, who has shared the writer's information on the web site since 2012: “King is an author of context, and not of quite an author of suspense. He doesn't write for the final twist. He likes to create characters, put them in a context, and see how they evolve. »

This is why the way Stephen King works with the thriller contrasts with the conventions of the genre. Here, there is no mystery murderer, we know his identity from the first pages. The writer is more interested in her motivations, what they say about current American society, and the detective's pursuit of them. “It’s not Agatha Christie, Stephen King said it a lot in interviews, he is incapable of maintaining suspense over the identity of the killer,” adds Émilie “But the formula pleases his fans and Mr.Mercedes is even one of their favorite King, they became attached to the character of Holly. Completely devoid of fantasy, the novel is today considered a perfect entry point to approach King's work. » According to Anne Michel, even in this thriller vein, Stephen King explores various facets of his style: “I would put more Holly in horror or thriller Silence of the Lambs. The outsider was more fantastic, while Mr.Mercedes was much closer to Columbo. »

A new page in King's career

Over the years, criticism of Stephen King has often focused on the excessive length of his stories, botched endings and alleged pervasive sexism. According to Émilie, the adoption of the thriller forced the writer to change his way of working: “The women in his novels are often victims, but Holly Gibney is a complex character, with autistic disorders, immense courage and an evolution crazy about the six stories she appears in. It's a bit of a way of redeeming himself for King, who has made his writing more complex, strengthened his acting and put himself in danger with a genre that he does not know how to write – by his own admission. »

Its followers are nevertheless not completely deprived of reference points with Holly : the novel contains a fierce criticism, dear to the author, of the excesses of American society. King's thrillers are contemporary, and their action always takes place more or less during the year in which they were written. King has been examining his country's politics since Dead Zonea novel published in 1979, in which he predicted the arrival of a simile-Trump to power. Holly was written between 2021 and 2022, and its plot takes place in the middle of the Covid pandemic. King takes the opportunity to say what he thinks of Donald Trump's policies and on American anti-vaxxers in particular. The previous thrillers in the series also evoked these excesses: those of the media, social networks, and many others.

Published in 140,000 copies in France (excluding paperback), Holly above all testifies to the “disconcerting ease with which King moves from one genre to another. Ultimately, reinventing yourself all the time “. For Émilie, the thriller is above all a brand new web page in her profession: “As he will get older, King takes pleasure in getting off the crushed monitor, and going the place he’s least anticipated. It reaches a brand new viewers, and conversely, for me who doesn't learn thrillers, it made me wish to learn some. »And if you’re a part of this new viewers, who’s extra hooked up to Holly Gibney than to Stephen King's different creations, relaxation assured, the detective will return in a seventh novel!

Holly, by Stephen King, translated from English (United States) by Jean Esch, ed. Albin Michel, 522 p., €24.90, e-book, €16.99.