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Danse Macabre by Stephen King

Danse Macabre (original 1981; edition 1983)

by Stephen King

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2,631392,272 (3.76)149
Title:Danse Macabre
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Berkley (1983), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:short stories, horror

Work details

Danse Macabre by Stephen King (1981)

  1. 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.
  2. 20
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  3. 10
    Supernatural horror in literature by H.P. Lovecraft (artturnerjr)

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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 |
An intriguing look into Stephen King's insights and interpretations of what horror is about and why horror fiction exists. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 7, 2014 |
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 |
I'm re-reading Stephen King's books in chronological order and this was the next book in line. I can now tell exactly how old I was when I originally read his books because this was the first one I bought (well was gifted) brand new from the bookstore. Every July (my bday) and Christmas my dad would give me any new Stephen King books that had come out as presents; so I was 13 when I got this one. I was really looking forward to this, King's first foray into non-fiction, as my first read of it had been soooo enlightening. I wanted to get my hands on every book he mentioned, watch every movie he named but it being pre-internet days that was a very hard task indeed. Now that I re-read the book thirty years later I find that I've watched a great many of the mentioned movies and the major books listed but not all of them so I still had some titles and authors to add to my tbr.

It's a great book and so interesting to read. Parts of the book are biographical telling about young Steve's life as a kid when he connected with this world of the macabre, but mostly it is his treatise on the horror story genre and what it includes both the good and the bad. The movie section was enjoyable but my favourite part was the longest section: on books, of course. Steve has a great writing voice and it's like taking to someone about a topic you both love over a couple of beers. The only part that was disappointing was the section on TV. The book shows its age here, written in 1981, King is writing from an era of Mork & Mindy, The Dukes of Hazzard and Fantasy Island to name a few. King has no use for television whatsoever, feeling that all who lower themselves to its level, actors, directors, writers are entering an abyss of no return. He does manage to tell about a few gems, in his opinion, and he recommends such as Outer Limits and Dark Shadows. The book was written over quite a period of time which shows as when he first starts the book he mentions his own books: . Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, The Shining (and the corresponding movies), further on Night Shift and The Stand and towards book's end The Dead Zone is mentioned once. He had also of course published Firestarter by the time this book was on the shelves.

Since his opinions and views of television are so outdated from now, where horror is a staple on the tube with King even being behind some ventures himself (Kingdom Hospital), I would sincerely love a follow-up to this book. Two ideas I have Uncle Steve, if you are listening: 1) continue with another book following the same theme horror movies, TV, books from the 80s to the 2010's. or 2) A new book just on horror and TV where King can expound on the very short chapter he included in this book and then go on to talk about what happened with horror on TV after the sitcom driven slump of the 80s up to the present. Why was Buffy a big hit in the 90s? Why is Walking Dead so hot today? Great book for the history of the genre but really worthy of a modern follow-up since there is so much more to say when his opinions are rooted in the eighties. ( )
  ElizaJane | Dec 14, 2013 |
Who knew Stephen King and terror could be so... entertaining?! A discussion of all things scary, including a look at films from the 1930s onwards, King brings a discerning and remarkably funny eye to dissecting what makes us scream. The book reads like an extended literary thesis on steroids: analytical but fun. A bit dated now (published in the 1980s) this reader would love a new edition to include films like Paranormal and The Conjuring. ( )
1 vote mjspear | Oct 24, 2013 |
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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" book. English book "Danse macabre" was translated into "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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:34 -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)

» see all 3 descriptions

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