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Danse Macabre by Stephen King

Danse Macabre (original 1981; edition 1983)

by Stephen King

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2,750392,132 (3.79)156
Title:Danse Macabre
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Berkley (1983), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:writing, horror, style, how-to, essay, stephen king, listsofbests

Work details

Danse Macabre by Stephen King (1981)

  1. 30
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  2. 30
    The Modern Weird Tale : A Critique of Horror Fiction by S. T. Joshi (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Another fascinating overview of the horror genre in the 20th century.
  3. 10
    Supernatural horror in literature by H.P. Lovecraft (artturnerjr)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
An intriguing look into Stephen King's insights and interpretations of what horror is about and why horror fiction exists. ( )
  trile1000 | Oct 23, 2015 |
A very interesting look at the horror genre. The recommendations at the end are excellent. I went on to read a number of them and they were all good reads. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 8, 2015 |
I purchased this book back in the 1980’s when it was first published and I know I thumbed through it occasion but never really read it. In my defense, it was my “baby years” and I did not read much that was not escapism fiction. Okay, okay, I still don’t, but I sneak in some “high-brow” books every once in while now. I came across this title again as an audio download from my library and decided it was time to hear what the horror-master has to say about the horror genre.

The audio book had an updated forward by Mr. King. His thoughts were interesting since it was around 30 years since the book was first published. The book was definitely worth the listen. Despite the fact that some of the references were dated (referring to his son Joe as a child when he is now a published author himself was amusing) but overall his references to horror books and films were still timely. He discusses the classics in the genre; Stoker, Matheson, Jackson as well as the cult-ish books and films.

Definitely a worthwhile read for any die hard King fans or horror fans in general.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
what an overview of horror movies, tv, and books (not enough about books, if you ask me) and why we read/write/watch them in the first place. he finds redeeming qualities to many movies that i'm sure i couldn't find anything positive in, but i still found his analysis interesting, even if i didn't always agree with it. i was most interested in (and ultimately surprised by) what he considers "horror," because i've never felt he was mainly a horror writer, and many of the writers he cites i also wouldn't call horror writers.

i am re/reading all of his books (except the dark tower series) in order of publication and even this early on it's clear to me in his fiction that he's a man who believes in equality. many, many of his characters in his books do not, and he writes them so well that i recall questioning his personal belief in the past. so i especially appreciated his identification of sexism in the film alien in a scene that "Enabl[es] the males in the audience, of course, to relax, roll their eyes at each other, and say either aloud or telepathically, 'Isn't that just like a woman?' It is a plot twist which depends upon a sexist idea for its believability, and we might well answer the question asked above by asking in turn, 'Isn't that just like a male chauvinist pig of a Hollywood scriptwriter?'"

this is a man who knows so much, not just about his genre, and i enjoyed seeing that on display here. this felt a bit like a dissertation that went out of control, but it will serve as a great reference for the future, and as always, i so like his voice and his tone. and he put some anecdotes and explanations of his own work and life in here, making me very much look forward to reading his on writing.

"We take refuge in make-believe terrors so the real ones don't overwhelm us, freezing us in place and making it impossible to function in our day-to-day lives."

"...I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find I cannot terrify him/her, I will try to horrify; and if I find I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud."

"...the primary duty of literature - to tell us the truth about ourselves by telling us lies about people who never existed."

while he gives a lot of credence to what seem to be pretty bad movies, he's not as forgiving with other writers. what a great insult:

"No Saul Bellow, no Bernard Malamud, but at least not down there in steerage with people like Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon, who apparently wouldn't know the difference between a balanced line of prose and a shit-and-anchovy pizza."

"What powers the rockets is Popular Mechanics stuff. The province of the writer is what powers the people."

"My stories all speak of courage and ethic and friendship and toughness. Sometimes they do it with love, sometimes with violence, sometimes with pain or sorrow or joy. But they all present the same message: the more you know, the more you can do."

"The novelist is, after all, God's liar, and if he does his job well, keeps his head and his courage, he can sometimes find the truth that lives at the center of the lie." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Jan 24, 2015 |
Although I love Stephen King and wanted to hear his insights into the horror found in our pop culture, I was disappointed. The references ramble a bit, in his fiction it seems to have a conversational feel, here it feels like listening to a drunk uncle reminiscing about the good ole days. I did prefer the references to books versus movies and did pick up the invasion of the body snatchers by Jack Finney which I loved.
I do have to say I listened to the audiobook version and learned the narrator is also the voice of Bob The Builder. This was such a turn off, his reading is annoying and laughable at points, maybe I would have liked and followed the narration better if it had been read by Stephen himself, avoid the audiobook! ( )
  mccin68 | Apr 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Enter, Stranger, at your Riske: Here there be Tygers.
"What was the worst thing you've ever done?"
"I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing..." Peter Straub, Ghost Story
"Well we'll really have a party but we gotta post a guard outside..." Eddie Cochran, "Come On Everybody"
It's easy enough--perhaps too easy--to memorialize the dead. This book is for six great writers of the macabre who are still alive. Robert Bloch, Jorge Luis Borges, Ray Bradbury, Frank Belknap Long, Donald Wandrei, Manly Wade Wellman.
First words
For me, the terror--the real terror, as opposed to whatever demons and boogeys which might have been living in my own mind--began on an afternoon in October of 1957.
Have you ever stood in a bookshop, glanced furtively around, and turned to the end of an Agatha Christie to see who did it, and how? Have you ever turned to the end of a horror novel to see if the hero made it out of the darkness and into the light? If you have ever done this, I have three simple words which I feel it is my duty to convey: SHAME ON YOU! It is low to mark your place in a book by folding down the corner of the page where you left off; TURNING TO THE END TO SEE HOW IT CAME OUT is even lower. If you have this habit, I urge you to break it...break it at once!
Being who I am, I cannot find it in my heart to wish you pleasant dreams.
“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The French book "Danse macabre" is the translation of "Night Shift". The English book "Danse macabre", on the other hand, was published in French translation under the title "Anatomie de l'horreur".
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425104338, Mass Market Paperback)

In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book, he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students. Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.

The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."

That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and also strikingly intelligent. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The author addresses the topic of what makes horror horrifying and what makes terror terrifying. King delivers one colorful observation after another about the great stories, books and films that comprise of the horror genre--from Frankenstein and Dracula to The exorcist, The twilight zone and Earth vs. The flying saucers.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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