Friday, July 6, 2012

Canon

Let's talk canon.
Properly speaking, when it comes to literature or the arts, "canon" refers to a body of individual works which have been verified, or commonly accepted, as the works of a specific author. In other words, Stephen King's canon consists of all works -- written and otherwise -- which are known to be the direct product of his own craft, either solo or in collaboration with someone else.

If you're talking canon within certain subsets of popular culture, the word "canon" often takes on different meanings, especially when applied to a multimedia storytelling franchise that lacks a singular author.  Example: Star TrekStar Trek exists primarily as a group of television series and feature films, but there have also been a near-avalanche of original novels, comic books, semi-official fan films, and the like over the decades.  In that case, determining what is and isn't canon means deciding, essentially, which stories count and which do not.

Those are treacherous waters, and if you don't believe me, all you need to do is buy a ticket to a sci-fi convention, find a room where people are talking about Star Trek or Doctor Who or superhero comics, and then start asking random people what they don't count as canon.  Before long, you'll be into nerd-dom so deep that you may never find your way out again.  So on second thought, maybe you should just take my word for it and skip the cons.  Unless you enjoy that type of thing, in which case, maybe I'll see you there.



 You've probably already figured out for yourself the fact that with the work of a single author, the canon issue becomes vastly less complicated than it is with a franchise property.  However, don't be fooled: there are still grey areas, and there are still questions to be answered before figuring out what does and what does not belong when it comes to the canon of Stephen King.



There are some works -- novels, short stories, essays, poems, etc. -- which are indisputably part of King's canon.  The first important question one encounters is the question of whether or not to count movies and television programs.  By this, I'm asking whether only written works should be counted, or whether works from other media should be included.  Personally, I'm of the opinion that it would be wrong to think of King as ONLY a writer, which opens the canon up to any medium within which King has worked creatively.  So there's THAT question answered.  However, from there the matter becomes rapidly more complex and open to interpretation.  

Clearly, some movies and television programs would absolutely fall into the realm of being a part of King's canon: projects which he directly scripted, such as Golden Years and Creepshow and Rose Red.

But hold on.  Do we count all of Golden Years and Kingdom Hospital, or merely the episodes which King himself directly scripted?  Should the episodes written by someone else be excluded, or should they be included by virtue of King's creative presence as a producer?

It becomes necessary to define the role of the producer for those projects in order to make a decision.  And if the answer you come up with is "yes, include those episodes," do you then also include the movies Riding the Bullet and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, which King did not directly write but which he did produce?

Let's follow that chain of logic.  If you include those producer credits into the canon, then surely you would also have to include the Marvel Comics series based on The Dark Tower and The Stand; after all, King is credited as both Creative Director and Executive Director on those titles.  So: include them, or not?  How about the spinoff novels The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and The Journals of Eleanor Druse, neither of which were written by King, but both of which were, in a sense, produced by him and then written by other writers?




As you can see, the issue ceases to be clear-cut almost immediately.  It seems in some ways to be a pointless endeavor, but I'd argue that there is value to be found in answering these questions.  Certainly the answers are going to be vital to anyone attempting to seriously study King's career in the coming decades and (possibly) centuries.  Future scholars are going to need some assistance in terms of helping them to understand how to contextualize certain aspects of King's career; they will also need guidance in defining -- both for themselves and for the culture overall -- the contents of King's canon.  They'll also need some assistance in terms of being able to figure out how King's contemporary audience received his works, and how the reputations of those works developed over time.

This is the point at which I suppose I ought to go ahead and make a confession: I want to be a part of that process.  At my current skill level as a blogger, or a critic, or an essayist, or whatever designation you want to assign to me (and, yes, if you come up with "hack amateur," I can see how you got there), I'm nowhere close.  A pro like Rocky Wood, as one example, puts me to shame.  And that's fine by me, partially because I'm a fan of writers/researchers like Wood, and also because it's my intent to get a lot better at what I do.  It isn't going to happen overnight, but it IS going to happen, and once that process is complete ... well, maybe I'll still be a hack amateur.  But, then again, maybe I won't.

With that in mind, I'm going to now begin the process of trying to publicly present my own definition of King's canon.  This is a tentative thing, and should by no means be taken to be my final words on the subject.  Far from it.  No, instead, it's just a means of allowing me to kill some time in a vaguely productive fashion.

Stephen King in a guest appearance on Sons of Anarchy


LEVEL ONE -- PRIMARY WORKS

"Primary works" are defined -- by me, for the purposes of my own arguments -- as all published prose fiction of any length, as well as any book-length nonfiction and any poetry, nonfiction, or screenplays which were included by King in one of his own collections.  Additionally, some non-prose (such as film or stage) projects have been included, as have any screenplays published in book form under King's name as an author.  

I've broken this into six sections: Main Bibliography (which is a list of King's novels, as well as his longer novellas); Short Fiction (all short stories, as well as shorter novellas); Major Short Nonfiction (encompassing lengthy or notable essays, introductions, etc.); Poetry; Collections  (book-length collections of stories, novellas, nonfiction, etc.); and Major Non-Print Works (which is a list of substantial authorial contributions by King to non-print media such as film, television, comic books, and stage productions).  For the record, yes, I AM aware that comic books and graphic novels are print media.  But they do not, in my mind, belong in the Main Bibliography unless King was the primary author of the comic, and the only times he has worked in that capacity are instances of adapting his own previously-existing stories or screenplays.

You will note that in the Main Bibliography section, I have made some rather massive alterations to the commonly-accepted chronology in terms of the order of King's novels.  It is common practice to refer to Carrie as his first novel, and certainly it was his first published novel.  However, there is ample direct -- i.e., stated by King himself -- evidence to show that Carrie was the fifth novel King actually wrote.  For scholarly purposes, it is imperative to view his bibliography in this fashion, and while I have mostly followed publication chronology in compiling the Main Bibliography, I will make alterations when and if there is persuasive evidence placing a work at a substantially different chronological point. 

(Side note: regardless of its supposedly negligible literary worth, I deeply hope that King someday sees fit to permit publication of Sword in the Darkness, which will otherwise remain a tantalizing mystery.  However, since the novel DOES demonstrably exist, I feel its inclusion here is appropriate.)

You will also note that I have elected to include King's lengthier novellas on this list.  The reason for this is simply that they could very easily be considered to be short novels rather than novellas; after all, Rage is quite short, and it was published as a novel, and the same is true of Cycle of the Werewolf. If Rage counts as a novel, then so -- in my mind, at least -- must several other major King works which are currently classified as novellas.  Additionally, a few works which even I consider to be novellas rather than novels have been included, simply because their extremely high quality make them better-suited to appear on a list of long works than on a list of short works.  It's a somewhat arbitrary decision, I'll grant you.

This, then, is an instance in which I am invoking -- to the paltry extent I am able -- scholarly license; the reader is encouraged to ignore these designations as he or she sees fit.  You may also feel free to email me (honkmahfah@yahoo.com) with any criticisms, corrections, or additions; I'll be happy to make it a workshop.

Main Bibliography
  • Rage (novel; written 1967, revised 1971, published 1977 under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • The Long Walk  (novel; written 1969, published 1979 under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • Sword in the Darkness (novel; written 1970, unpublished as yet with the exception of Chapter 71, published in 2006 in Rocky Wood's Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished)
  • The Running Man (novel; written 1971, published 1982 under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • Carrie (1974, novel)
  • Blaze  (novel, written immediately after Carrie; heavily revised for publication in 2007 under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • 'Salem's Lot  (1975, novel; some editions from 2004 forward contained material deleted or revised from unpublished drafts of the novel)
  • The Body (novel, written immediately after 'Salem's Lot; unpublished until collected in Different Seasons, 1982)
  • Roadwork  (novel; written 1974, published 1981 under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • The Shining  (1977, novel)
  • Apt Pupil  (novel, written immediately after The Shining; unpublished until its collection in Different Seasons, 1982)
  • The Stand  (1978, novel; revised edition published 1990)
  • The Dead Zone  (1979, novel)
  • Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (novella, written immediately after The Dead Zone; unpublished until its collection in Different Seasons, 1982) 
  • The Mist  (1980, novella, included in the anthology Dark Forces; collected in Skeleton Crew, 1985)
  • Firestarter  (1980, novel)
  • The Breathing Method  (novella, written immediately after Firestarter; unpublished until its collection in Different Seasons, 1982)
  • Danse Macabre  (1981, nonfiction)
  • Cujo  (1981, novel)
  • The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger  (novel, published serially 1978-1981 then collected 1982; revised version published 2003)
  • Christine  (1983, novel)
  • Cycle of the Werewolf  (1983, novel)
  • Pet Sematary  (1983, novel)
  • The Talisman (1984, novel co-authored with Peter Straub)
  • Thinner  (1984, novel, published under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • The Eyes of the Dragon  (1984, novel; revised edition published 1987)
  • Silver Bullet  (1985, screenplay [based on Cycle of the Werewolf])
  • It  (1986, novel)
  • The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three  (1987, novel)
  • Misery  (1987, novel)
  • The Tomyknockers  (1987, novel)
  • The Dark Half  (1989, novel)
  • The Langoliers  (1990, novel, published in the collection Four Past Midnight)
  • Secret Window, Secret Garden  (1990, novel, published in the collection Four Past Midnight)
  • The Library Policeman (1990, novel, published in the collection Four Past Midnight)
  • The Sun Dog  (1990, novel, published in the collection Four Past Midnight)
  • The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands  (1991, novel)
  • Needful Things  (1991, novel)
  • Gerald's Game  (1992, novel)
  • Dolores Claiborne  (1993, novel)
  • Insomnia  (1994, novel)
  • Rose Madder  (1995, novel)
  • The Green Mile  (1996, novel, published serially in six paperback installments and later collected as a single edition)
  • Desperation  (1996, novel)
  • The Regulators  (1996, novel, published under the pseudonym "Richard Bachman")
  • The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass  (1997, novel)
  • Bag of Bones  (1998, novel)
  • Storm of the Century  (1999, screenplay)
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon  (1999, novel)
  • Hearts In Atlantis  (1999, novel)
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft  (2000, nonfiction)
  • The Plant: Zenith Rising  (2000, novel, published serially online in six installments; no print edition extant, although the first three installments were revised from their original limited-edition appearances in 1981-1985)
  • Dreamcatcher  (2001, novel)
  • Black House  (2001, co-authored with Peter Straub)
  • From a Buick 8  (2002, novel)
  • The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla  (2003, novel)
  • The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah  (2004, novel)
  • The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower  (2004, novel)
  • Faithful  (2004, nonfiction written in collaboration with Stuart O'Nan)
  • The Colorado Kid  (2005, novel)
  • Cell  (2006, novel)
  • Lisey's Story  (2006, novel)
  • Duma Key  (2008, novel)
  • Under the Dome  (2009, novel)
  • 1922  (2010, novel, published in the collection Full Dark, No Stars)
  • Big Driver  (2010, novel, published in the collection Full Dark, No Stars)
  • A Good Marriage  (2010, novella, published in the collection Full Dark, No Stars)
  • 11/22/63  (2011, novel)
  • The Wind Through the Keyhole  (2012, novel)
  • Doctor Sleep  (scheduled for 2013, novel)
  • Joyland  (scheduled for 2013, novel)

Major Short Works
  • The Glass Floor  (1967, short story; uncollected)
  • Cain Rose Up  (1968, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Here There Be Tygers  (1968, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Strawberry Spring  (1968, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Night Surf  (1969, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Reaper's Image  (1969, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Stud City  (1969, short story; revised for incorporation into "The Body")
  • Slade  (1970, short story, published serially; uncollected)
  • Graveyard Shift  (1970, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Blue Air Compressor  (1971, short story; uncollected)
  • I Am the Doorway  (1971, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Suffer the Little Children  (1972, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Fifth Quarter (1972, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Battleground  (1972, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Mangler  (1972, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Old Dude's Ticker  (written 1971 or 1972; short story, unpublished until 2000; uncollected)
  • The Boogeyman  (1973, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Trucks  (1973, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Gray Matter  (1973, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Sometimes They Come Back  (1974, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Lawnmower Man  (1975, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Revenge of Lard-Ass Hogan  (1975, short story; revised for incorporation into The Body)
  • It Grows On You  (1975, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Weeds  (1976, short story; uncollected)
  • The Ledge  (1976, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • I Know What You Need  (1976, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Children of the Corn  (1977, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • One for the Road  (1977, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Cat from Hell  (1977, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • The Man Who Loved Flowers  (1977, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Jerusalem's Lot  (1978, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • Quitters, Inc.  (1978, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Last Rung on the Ladder  (1978, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Woman in the Room  (1978, short story; collected in Night Shift)
  • The Night of the Tiger  (1978, short story; uncollected)
  • The King Family and the Wicked Witch  (1978, short story; uncollected)
  • Nona  (1978, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Gunslinger  (1978, short story; collected in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • Man with a Belly (1978, short story; uncollected)
  • The Crate  (1979, short story; uncollected)
  • The Way Station  (1980, short story; collected in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game  (1980, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Crouch End  (1980, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Monkey  (1980, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Wedding Gig  (1980, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Oracle and the Mountains  (1981, short story; collected in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • The Jaunt  (1981, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Slow Mutants  (1981, short story; collected in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands  (1981, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Reach  (1981, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Gunslinger and the Man in Black  (1981, short story; collected in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • two excerpts from The Cannibals  (from the unfinished novel written circa 1981; excerpts unpublished until 2009, when they were published online; no print editions extant)
  • Survivor Type  (1982, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Before the Play  (1982, deleted scenes from The Shining; uncollected)
  • The Raft  (1982, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Word Processor of the Gods  (1983, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Uncle Otto's Truck  (1983, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Gramma  (1984, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Mrs. Todd's Shortcut  (1984, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet  (1984, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson  (1984, short story, revised for incorporation into The Tommyknockers; original edition uncollected)
  • Beachworld  (1984, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Dolan's Cadillac  (1985, short story, published serially; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)  (1985, short story; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • The End of the Whole Mess  (1985, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The General  (1985, screenplay, exceprt from Cat's Eye; unpublished until 1997; uncollected)
  • Popsy  (1987, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Doctor's Case  (1987, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Sorry, Right Number  (1987, screenplay; unpublished until collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Dedication  (1988, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Sneakers  (1988, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Reploids  (1988, short story; uncollected)
  • The Night Flier  (1988, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Home Delivery  (1989, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Rainy Season  (1989, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • My Pretty Pony  (1989, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Moving Finger  (1990, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • You Know They Got a Hell of a Band  (1992, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Chattery Teeth  (1992, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Beggar and the Diamond  (1993, parable; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The House on Maple Street  (1993, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Ten O'Clock People  (1993, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Umney's Last Case  (1993, short story; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • The Man in the Black Suit  (1994, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Blind Willie  (1994, short story; revised for incorporation into Hearts In Atlantis)
  • Luckey Quarter  (1995, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Lunch at the Gotham Cafe  (1995, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Everything's Eventual  (1997, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • L.T.'s Theory of Pets  (1997, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Autopsy Room Four  (1998, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French  (1998, short story; collected in  Everything's Eventual)
  • The Little Sisters of Eluria (1998, novella; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • The New Lieutenant's Rap  (1999, short story; revised for incorporation into Hearts In Atlantis)
  • In the Deathroom  (1999, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • The Road Virus Heads North  (1999, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Riding the Bullet (2000, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • All That You Love Will Be Carried Away  (2001, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • The Death of Jack Hamilton  (2001, short story; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Harvey's Dream  (2003, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Rest Stop  (2003, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Stationary Bike  (2003, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • The Things They Left Behind  (2005, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Memory (2006, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Willa  (2006, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Graduation Afternoon  (2007, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • The Gingerbread Girl  (2007, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Ayana  (2007, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Mute  (2007, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • A Very Tight Place  (2008, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • The New York Times At Special Bargain Rates  (2008, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • N.  (2008, short story; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Ur  (2009, short story; uncollected)
  • Throttle  (2009, short story, co-authored with Joe Hill; uncollected)
  • Morality  (2009, short story; collected in Blockade Billy)
  • Premium Harmony  (2009, short story; uncollected)
  • Blockade Billy  (2010, short story; collected in Blockade Billy)
  • Fair Extension  (2010, short story; collected in Full Dark, No Stars)
  • A Good Marriage  (2010, novella; collected in Full Dark, No Stars)
  • Herman Wouk Is Still Alive  (2011, short story; uncollected)
  • Under the Weather  (2011, short story; collected in the trade-paperback edition of Full Dark, No Stars)
  • Mile 81  (2011, short story; uncollected)
  • The Little Green God of Agony  (2011, short story; uncollected)
  • The Dune  (2011, short story; uncollected)
  • In the Tall Grass  (2012, co-authored with Joe Hill, published in two installments; uncollected)

Major Short Nonfiction
  • The Horror Market Writer and the Ten Bears: A True Story  (1973, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Foreword [to Night Shift]  (1978, essay; collected in Night Shift)
  • Introduction [to Dracula/Frankenstein/Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde]  (1978, essay; revised for incorporation into Danse Macabre)
  • On Becoming a Brand Name  (1980, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Introduction [to Joseph Payne Brennan's The Shapes of Midnight]  (1980, essay; uncollected)
  • Imagery and the Third Eye  (1980, essay; uncollected) 
  • Afterword [to Firestarter]  (1981, essay; published in the paperback edition of Firestarter)
  • Introduction [to The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural]  (1981, essay; uncollected)
  • Introduction [to John Farris's When Michael Calls]  (1981, essay; uncollected)
  • Foreword [to Charles Grant's Tales from the Nightside]  (1981, essay; uncollected)
  • Between Rock and a Soft Place  (1982, essay; uncollected)
  • Visit with an Endangered Species  (1982, essay; uncollected) 
  • Afterword [to The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger]  (1982, essay; published in the original editions of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger)
  • Afterword [to Different Seasons]  (1982, essay; collected in Different Seasons)
  • On The Shining and Other Perpetrations  (1982, essay; uncollected)
  • Introduction to Harlan Ellison's Stalking the Nightmare  (1982, essay; uncollected) 
  • The Importance of Being Forry  (1982, essay; uncollected)
  • An Evening at the Billerica Library  (1983, speech transcript; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Introduction to The Blackboard Jungle  (1984, essay; uncollected) 
  • Introduction [to Skeleton Crew]  (1985, essay; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Notes [on Skeleton Crew]  (1985, essay; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Why I Was Bachman  (1985, essay; collected in The Bachman Books)
  • Foreword [to Silver Bullet]  (1985, essay; published in Silver Bullet)
  • Banned Books and Other Concerns: The Virginia Beach Lecture  (1986, speech transcript; collected in Secret Windows)
  • "Ever Et Raw Meat?" and Other Weird Questions  (1987, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Turning the Thumbscrews on the Reader  (1987, essay; collected in Secret Windows
  • Nightmares in the Sky  (1988, essay; uncollected)
  • A New Introduction to John Fowles's The Collector  (1989, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • A Preface in Two Parts  (1990, essay; published in The Stand: For the First Time Complete & Uncut)
  • Head Down  (1990, essay; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • What Stephen King Does For Love  (1990, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Straight Up Midnight  (1990, essay; collected in Four Past Midnight)
  • Perfect Games, Shared Memories  (1991, essay; uncollected)
  • untitled essay [from Writers Dreaming]  (1993, essay; uncollected)
  • Introduction [to Nightmares & Dreamscapes]  (1993, essay; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Notes [on Nightmares & Dreamscapes]  (1993, essay; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Diamonds Are Forever  (1994, essay; uncollected)
  • The Neighborhood of the Beast  (1994, essay; uncollected)
  • Foreword: A Letter  (1996, essay; published in The Green Mile Part 1: The Two Dead Girls)
  • Afterword [to The Green Mile]  (1996, essay; published in The Green Mile: Coffey on the Mile)
  • The Importance of Being Bachman  (1996, essay; published in a new edition of The Bachman Books, replacing "Why I Was Bachman")
  • Introduction to Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door  (1996, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • Afterword [to The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass]  (1997, essay; published in The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass)
  • I Want to Be Typhoid Stevie  (1997, essay; uncollected) 
  • Leaf Peepers  (1998, essay; uncollected) 
  • Introduction [to Storm of the Century]  (1999, essay; published in Storm of the Century)
  • An Evening With Stephen King  (1999, speech transcript; collected in Secret Windows)
  • The Bogeyboys  (1999, speech transcript; uncollected)
  • Fenway and the Great White Whale  (1999, essay; uncollected)
  • Great Hookers I Have Known  (1999, essay; collected in Secret Windows)
  • commencement address (Vassar College)  (2001, speech transcript; uncollected) 
  • Practing the (Almost) Lost Art  (2002, essay; collected in Everything's Eventual)
  • Afterword [to From a Buick 8]  (2002, essay; published in From a Buick 8)
  • On Being Nineteen (and a Few Other Things)  (2003, essay; published in The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger)
  • Foreword [to The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger]  (2003, essay; published in The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger)
  • Building Bridges  (2003, speech transcript; uncollected) 
  • Author's Note [to The Dark Tower VII: TheDark Tower]  (2004, essay; published in The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower)
  • commencement address (University of Maine)  (2005, speech transcript; uncollected) 
  • Afterword [to The Colorado Kid]  (2005, essay; published in The Colorado Kid)
  • Introduction to 'Salem's Lot  (2005, essay; published in the Illustrated Edition of 'Salem's Lot)
  • An Open Letter From Stephen King [from Marvel Spotlight: The Dark Tower]  (2007, essay; uncollected)
  • Full Disclosure  (2007, essay; published in Blaze)
  • Introduction [to The Best American Short Stories 2007)  (2007, essay; uncollected)
  • Introduction [to Just After Sunset]  (2008, essay; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • Sunset Notes  (2008, essay; collected in Just After Sunset)
  • What's Scary  (2010, essay; uncollected)
  • Afterword [to Full Dark, No Stars]  (2010, essay; collected in Full Dark, No Stars)
  • Afterword [to 11/22/63]  (2011, essay; published in 11/22/63)

Poetry
  • Harrison State Park '68 (1968, poem; uncollected)
  • The Dark Man (1969, poem; uncollected)
  • Donovan's Brain  (1970, poem; uncollected)
  • Silence  (1970, poem; uncollected)
  • untitled ("In the key-chords of dawn...")  (1971, poem; uncollected)
  • Brooklyn August  (1971, poem; collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
  • Woman With Child  (1971, poem; uncollected)
  • untitled ("She has gone to sleep while...")  (1971, poem; uncollected)
  • The Hardcase Speaks  (1971, poem; uncollected)
  • For Owen  (1985, poem; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Paranoid: A Chant  (1985, poem; collected in Skeleton Crew)
  • Dino  (1994, poem; uncollected) 
  • Mostly Old Men  (2009, poem; uncollected)
  • The Bone Church  (2009, poem; uncollected
  • Tommy  (2010, poem; uncollected)

Collections
  • Night Shift  (1978, story collection)
  • Different Seasons  (1982, novella collection)
  • Skeleton Crew  (1985, story collection)
  • The Bachman Books  (1985, omnibus)
  • Four Past Midnight  (1990, novella collection)
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes  (1993, story collection)
  • Secret Windows  (2000, nonfiction collection)
  • Everything's Eventual (2002, story collection)
  • Just After Sunset  (2008, story collection)
  • Blockade Billy  (2010, two-story collection)
  • Full Dark, No Stars  (2010, novella/story collection)

NOTE:  Several volumes were considered for inclusion on this list, but were ultimately rejected for one reason or another: Bare Bones: Conversations on Terror with Stephen King (this excellent collection of interviews with King from various sources is essential reading, but is not included because King had no participation in editing the collection); Feast of Fear: Conversations with Stephen King and Fangoria Masters of the Dark: Stephen King and Clive Barker are similar interview collections, and were omitted for the same reasons; Six Stories (a limited-edition story collection featuring only stories which later appeared elsewhere; I consider this to be little more than a first-draft edition of Everything's Eventual); and Stephen King Goes to the Movies (a King-approved collection of stories which had been adapted into movies; this collection featured no stories which had not previously been collected, and the new essays by King are not substantial enough to warrant inclusion).


Major Non-Print Works
  • Creepshow  (1982, feature film; screenplay by King)
  • Cat's Eye  (1985, feature film; screenplay by King)
  • Silver Bullet  (1985, feature film; screenplay by King)
  • Maximum Overdrive  (1986, feature film; written and directed by King)
  • Sorry, Right Number  (1987, episode of Tales from the Darkside; teleplay by King)
  • Pet Sematary  (1989, feature film; screenplay by King)
  • Golden Years  (1991, television series; five episodes written by King, overall story written by King for all seven episodes)
  • Sleepwalkers  (1992, feature film; screenplay by King)
  • The Stand  (1994, television miniseries; teleplay by King)
  • The Shining  (1997, television miniseries; teleplay by King)
  • Chinga  (1998, episode of The X-Files; teleplay by King, rewritten by Chris Carter)
  • Storm of the Century (1999, television miniseries; teleplay by King)
  • Rose Red  (2002, television miniseries; teleplay by King)
  • Kingdom Hospital  (2004, television series; nine episodes written or co-written by King, all episodes produced by King)
  • Desperation  (2006, telefilm; teleplay by King)
  • American Vampire, Vol. 1 (2010, graphic novel; co-written with series creator Scott Snyder, with art by Rafael Albuquerque)
  • The Horrors of Stephen King  (2011, episode of A Night at the Movies; documentary starring King as the sole commentator)
  • Ghost Brothers of Darkland County  (2012, stage musical; book by King, music by John Mellencamp



LEVEL TWO -- SECONDARY WORKS

Issues of interpretation notwithstanding, it is a relatively simple task to compile a list of King's primary works.  Where defining the canon begins to become really difficult is in listing the secondary works.  There are hundreds of these, ranging from major interviews conducted with King to magazine articles written by King to ... well, you name it, really.

I'm in no way prepared to even begin listing Secondary Works by King, so instead I will compile a list of the varying types of works which I would identify as being of secondary importance within King's canon, yet nevertheless part of that canon.

  • newspaper columns (e.g. King's Garbage Truck)
  • newspaper articles
  • magazine articles
  • book essays considered -- by me -- to be of secondary importance
  • book/movie reviews
  • story fragments (such as "Skybar")
  • opinion pieces
  • short-shorts (such as "For the Birds" and "An Evening at God's")
  • liner notes
  • magazine columns (e.g. The Pop of King)
  • notes and letters
  • print interviews with King conducted by others
  • major articles about King containing direct quotations from King
  • minor comic books scripted by King
  • notable filmed interviews with King
  • juvenilia (stories, published and otherwise, written by King as a juvenile)
  • known minor unpublished works

LEVEL THREE -- THE OFFSHOOT CANON


The lone remaining element of canon pertains to works by other people which are related to King and his work.  In most of these cases, King would have had little or no direct involvement with the project, so technically speaking, these cannot and should not be considered to be proper elements of King's canon.  However, they may be of major interest as offshoots of that canon in various ways, and therefore form a parallel canon of their own, separate but related to the actual King canon.

Here again, I'm not quite prepared to put that parallel canon forth, but I can give you a list of the type of works I will eventually incorporate into my version of that canon.
  • major film and television adaptations of King's work by others
  • comic-book and other graphical adaptations of King's work by others
  • spinoff properties of King's work (both authorized -- such as The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer -- and unauthorized but legally sanctioned, such as the many sequels to Children of the Corn)
  • audio-drama adaptations of King's work (such as The Mist In 3D Sound and the BBC Radio version of Pet Sematary)
  • stage adaptations of King's work (such as Carrie the Musical)
  • musical compositions based on or directly inspired by King's works
  • computer games/software based on King's works
  • major books about King or his works
  • notable King appearances as an actor or performer in other people's work (e.g. his role on an episode of Sons of Anarchy and his role as narrator on the Shooter Jennings album Black Ribbons)
  • notable parodies or pastiches of King's work (such as "The Shinning" on The Simpsons)
  • novels and stories written by authors with whom King collaborated (so far, this is almost entirely limited to Peter Straub -- my rationale for including his works is that understanding his work is crucial to giving a proper critical analysis to The Talisman and Black House)
  • novels and stories written by members of King's nuclear family (wife Tabitha King and sons Joe Hill and Owen King).  Here, my rationale is somewhat fuzzier, but I think it is reasonable to assume that living for decades with Tabitha King had a major influence on King's work, and therefore understanding her work might provide valuable insights.  The same is less true of Hill and Owen King, but there is a distinct possibility that after Stephen and Tabitha are both deceased, their two sons will have major roles to play in editing unpublished works for publication, and so an understanding of their work might also be helpful.  I would also theoretically consider including the unpublished stories said to have been written by King's father, should any of them ever surface; it would be interesting to read them to see if they bore even the vaguest similarity to his son's works.
  • novels/stories/movies/music/etc. by others which featured in King's writing in some major way -- as an example, the books and movies which King wrote about extensively in Danse Macabre (The Haunting of Hill House, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, etc.) or in other major works. It would also be reasonable to include works which King publicly named as primary influences on specific works of his (e.g. Dracula as a major influence on 'Salem's Lot; Earth Abides and The Lord of the Rings as major influences on The Stand; "The Tell-Tale Heart," of which King's story "The Old Dude's Ticker" is a pastiche).

*****

The bottom line behind what I've been saying here is that it is a massive undertaking to compile any sort of list that wants to be all-inclusive of the various aspects of a career as prolific and varied as King's.  It is a project that other people are probably doing with considerably more skill than I can muster, but I'll press on anyways, slowly and with my own (possibly faulty) viewpoints on things.  Whether the process of doing so will ever end up benefiting anyone else remains to be seen; but I'll enjoy it along the way, and for now that's plenty good enough for me.




NOTE:  This is a revision of a post which originally appeared November 7, 2011.

6 comments:

  1. I'm in awe of the effort that has gone into this post, and only take my hat off to it.

    My own take on what is and isn't cannon is a lot more imprecise. It all revolves around the single principle "Does it Ring True?" This is more a matter of literary effects and story contents rather than just the fact that an author writes a book. To illustrate:

    Anyway, to take to the following example. Rocky Wood in his indispensable book Stephen King, Uncollected, Unpublished mentions in King's orignal script for the X Files episode Chinga the appearance of a "College Friend of Agent Scully's. Her name: Rebecca CALLAHAN.

    Now by the criteria I outlined above, does it "Ring True" to connect the the Stephne King universe with that of the X Files, in terms of story content until given definitive proof, I see no reason sign of canon contradiction. In terms of effect my response is simple: TOTALLY FUCKIN’ AWSOME!!!!!!!

    To be continued.

    ChrisC

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    1. Yeah, that section on "Chinga"/"Molly" is one of the best sections of Rocky Wood's excellent book.

      The real question raised by that, of course, is this: if King writing in a character with ties to a character from "Salem's Lot" is an indication that he is saying "The X-Files" takes place in the same universe as "Salem's Lot," then should ALL of "The X-Files" then be considered to be a part of the extended King canon? If so, does "Millennium" count also?

      For my own part, I'm going to vote no on both, mainly because the character does not exist in the produced version of the episode.

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  2. To provide some futher examples in terms of say Tom Lee Wallace’s It adaptation, my contention is that whatever flaws it might have as a production, terms of writing, it has one of or two details that fit right into the orginal text without altering it in any fundamental fashion, that in fact actually enhances the original story a great deal. These scenes include Bill’s visit to George’s grave, the more developed relationship between Ben and Bev including the epilogue in which they marry and have kids, and also the scenes that demonstrate a kind of cowardice on the part of the Losers. Now this aspect of Wallace’s script has drawn much criticism from fans of the book, the charge is that it’s demeaning to the characters and their integrity. What I believe this charge fails to notice is point implicitly stated in the novel that Losers are anything but virtuous, and that their story is largely the finding of courage, which is the only thing (aside from some Other) that allows them to be regarded as heroes at all.

    To take this a bit further, let’s consider the case of the Shining and Doctor Sleep.

    In a way, the following is very much a rush to judgment in as much as we’re dealing a work as yet unpublished. I should mention here that as Doctor Sleep is concerned there are two camps, the Yays and Nays for simplicity’s sake. I’ve looked up others reactions and have found opinions disagreeing and agree with my own negative response.

    Going back to the “Ring of Truth” as a critical tool, the question “Is it true?” or as King asks in “Misery” of the hapless Carelesss Corrigan, “Did he?” My answer to both questions is that my first and subsequent response to Doctor Sleep was negative, and that it shouldn’t be considered canon but rather as a failed attempt at canon.

    The criteria for this judgment aside from the “Ring of Truth” are based on observations King made both in On Writing and the dvd commentary track for the Garris version of the Shining.

    Basically, King says, he was writing about himself at the time. Which neatly explains why he felt the ending to the original novel felt rushed and unfinished and neatly justifies the mini-series ending.

    At the time of the novel, he was still by his own admission an alcoholic, and his situation wasn’t resolved, so therefore the novel, while having an ending, is incomplete and rushed.

    The mini-series ending, however, written after King had finally kicked the habit, along with other plot elements help to give the story it’s sense of completion that it was calling for all along, and provides both closure and catharsis, no matter how sappy.

    Looked at in this light, the addition of a sequel is superfluous and unnecessary for reason of “Truth” and character integrity mentioned above

    Final example, Under the Dome. Here’s a tricky one.

    The basic agreement among King fans is it starts out promising and then loses it’s way somewhere around the mid-point. In that case, can the novel be said to be finished?

    Is it even the story he should have told? Should he have tried a second go at the Cannibals manuscript?

    These questions make Dome’s canonicity very complex, and I’d like to close with something King also noted in On Writing, even the most talented author can lose sight of the real narrative thread of a story, even if you’re a Dickens, Twain or Melville. Doesn’t you bad or not great, just, what can I say, One of Us, One of Us, heeheeheeheehee.

    Warning: the following is the work of professional Nerdhood. Do not attempt such actions without the aid of said professionals.

    ChrisC

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    1. Before I say anything else I have to say this: "He DIDN'T get OUT of the cockadoodie CAR!!"

      Now I feel better.

      I think I see what you're saying, but I don't entirely agree with it, because it's too subjective. You seem to be arguing for the notion that a work is canon only if it fits thematically (and quality-wise) with all the other works. As the kids say, I can't roll with that.

      As an example, I'm not at all sure that there actually IS a consensus among King fans that "Under the Dome" loses its way around the mid-point. But even if there is, the novel demonstrably exists; King wrote it (for better or for worse), and then published it and sold it to millions of people. So yes, the novel certainly CAN be said to be finished. Whether it is finished well or finished poorly is a matter for each individual to make their own determination about, of course. (For the record: I think certain aspects of it fail to come together as well as they promise to, but overall I find it to be an excellent novel.) But does "Under the Dome" belong on the list in terms of King's canon? I would vehemently argue that the ONLY answer to that question is "yes."

      Now, let's talk about "The Shining."

      Stephen King is perfectly entitled to his opinion that "The Shining" feels rushed and unfinished as a novel to him. And you're perfectly entitled to agree with him. I disagree with him. It doesn't feel even vaguely rushed or unfinished to me as a reader. It feels like it has the ending it deserves. Now, granted, I wasn't there when King wrote it; I don't know what was in his brain that he was trying to exorcise onto the page, but I can see the truth in the idea from his point of view, if he failed to get it all out, the novel might seem less than satisfactory to him. But I don't think most readers -- certainly not those who lack the benefit of King's thoughts on the matter -- would perceive that in any way.

      On the subject of the new ending that was written for the miniseries ... well, you know my thoughts on the miniseries. I don't like that scene, mostly from an execution standpoint, but also because I think that "Kissin', kissin'..." refrain is just silly. I'd think it looking at it on the page, though, so THAT one is King's fault and not Garris's. And I do not consider those events to be events from the novel that simply never got written, because if they WERE events from the novel, they'd happen IN the novel. Who knows, maybe King will someday revise it and include them, but until he does, they will exist only in the universe of the miniseries, as far as I'm concerned.

      There are EXTENSIVE conversations that can be had on these subjects. The canon issue is an undeniably sticky one, even in cases when it seems straightforward.

      But, nerdy though it may be, I think it is a vital conversation, one that will be essential to the process of determining how King's work is viewed in the future. So, again, I find myself being proud to admit to being a nerd!

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    2. Well, well put whatever my disagreements. To be fair, I was wondering if I should have gone more into my definition of criteria, but I worried about space.

      One of the things I guess I should have mentioned was that I believe King when he says stories are like fossils, found things that make themselves.

      To me this sounded like C.G. Jung's theory of the archetypes of the collective unconscious.

      I later learned from Tony Magistrale's equally invaluable Discovering the Shining, in the chapter The Thousand Faces of Danny Torrance, there's a quote where King from a quoted interview say he "Admits to being influenced by Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand faces, and to a certain extent by Freudian and Jungian psychology, though he is quick to admit "I'm more apt to use the theories to advance my own ideas rather than to use my ideas to explore the theories".

      While the last line may sound suspect, I believe when he says his own ideas he means the ones mentioned in On Writing as being the concerns that drive most of his fiction i.e. technology, kids in jeopardy, fate and free will, and as for his concerns about archetypes, his own thinking shows no sign of any major disagreement with the theory.

      All of which is to outline archetypes and collective unconscious as high minded terms for the imagination and it's contents which operate at the subconscious level and therefore are to a degree autonumous.

      King once told someone from the New York times that be believe stories make themselves, the interviewer said he didn't believe that. King's response: That's okay, just so long as you believe I believe it.

      The Nerds will return in Revenge of the Nerds: College Edition, this time, they have control of the whole damn computer system, bwahahahahahahahaha!

      ChrisC

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    3. I believe King on the subject of the stories making themselves. At least, I believe in that as a shorthand description of the actual process. I've always felt that when King says something like "the ending wrote itself," what he means is simply that sometimes ideas present appear very quickly, almost instinctively or reflexively, negating the need for conscious thought. If that happens to King a lot -- which seems likely -- then I'd imagine the process of writing a story really IS a bit like excavating something from the earth.

      I'm sure King is not alone in writing that way, and I'm just as sure that plenty of other writers work in a completely different fashion.

      I've never read that Magistrale piece about "The Shining." I'll have to look that one up, it sounds interesting.

      This conversation is making me want to watch "Revenge of the Nerds." All I remember about it is that big dude angrily yelling "NNNEEERRRRRRRRRRDDDDDSSSSS!!!!!"

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