I remember being completely enrapt reading 'Salem's Lot. I don't know if I just eventually outgrew Stephen King or if King indeed sloughed off talent-wise somewhat over the years, but rarely have I read something so outstanding, whether genre or literary since those late nights sometime in the 1980s; a book so ridden with doom, so sickly sinister, and such a phantasmagorical page-turner that it sucked in its blood lust all my free time dry (and sucked time dry I didn't have that should've been spent studying or sleeping!). O what a brooding, gloomy, pseudo-gothic (gothic-chic, let's call it), macabre masterpiece, 'Salem's Lot.
|1st printing, 1975|
A vampire novel written the way vampire novels were meant to be written back when they were still written right by writers with actual know-how and skills (Anne Rice's debut included): with actual, that is, creative and ingenious implementation of literary stylistic and narrative techniques such as character and plot development; creepy foreshadowing; nuanced, perverted symbolism of a both deliciously libidinal and religious flavor; and physically palpable suspense ever increasing, pulsating like doubly-punctured carotid arteries, raising high the blood pressure to a breathless denouement....
Suspense so intense I flipped on all the lights at night when I recklessly read it, 'Salem's Lot, alone and vulnerable to imagined, (but-it-felt-so-real!)-vampire attacks inside an isolated suburban tract on a full moon'd cul-de-sac; the skeletal-like houses under construction each side of my house, grotesque and baroque in their exposed incompletion, homes more shadows than substance, adding to the awful ambiance of dread and the undead emanating like an evil breeze from outside my foolishly left open windows.
Or written, I should say, a la Stoker, a la Lovecraft, to which 'Salem's Lot paid its rightful (and frightful) homage.
The made-for-TV-movie of 'Salem's Lot (released in 1979), starring David Soul of Starsky and Hutch and Here Come the Brides fame, singer of the 1976 #1 Billboard hit, Don't Give Up on Us Baby (O the horror!), stunk it up like cloves of garlic -- just like that schmaltzy pop song of Soul's -- but not the book by Stephen King. Never the book by Stephen King. So read the book, 'Salem's Lot, by Stephen King ... if you dare.