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The Terrifying Normalcy of Stephen King and MORE!
The Bite #76

The Terrifying Normalcy of Stephen King and MORE!

September 17, 2019

In this Issue:


By Alisha Grauso*

It’s rare that one writer shapes an entire generation or two, and rarer still when one shapes the cultural and literary landscape of an entire country. The United Kingdom has J.K. Rowling; Japan had Soseki Natsume; Nigeria had Chinua Achebe.

In the United States, we have Stephen King.

His work has been ubiquitous since the mid-‘70s, his books, short stories, and adaptations of his work in constant demand. Even people who don’t necessarily love horror have probably read at least one King novel or watched a film adaptation.

But why does he speak to us so?

It’s the terrifying normalcy of his horror. King’s scares don’t play out on a grand scale. There are no exotic locations, few huge ensemble casts, and battles with monsters rarely ever go big. His horrors unfold in sleepy, small towns, quietly and subtly. The greatest fights in his stories are against human nature; his protagonists are ordinary people with cracks and flaws, wrestling with themselves as much as they do Big Bads. His human antagonists are often equally matched with the supernatural in terms of their potential for cruelty and the depths of their darkness.

In an age of escapism, we still read King precisely because his stories don’t allow us to escape, rooted as they are in relatable realism. We read them because they rely on fundamental truths about ourselves rather than a spectacle. In his stories, we see our own darkness and tangles reflected back to us, as well as the simple goodness of regular people just trying to get by.

When they’re all boiled down to their core truths, King’s stories are a metaphor for living. We’re all just trying to get by, aren’t we? We may not fight killer clowns or ageless demonic entities or possessed cars, but we fight all the other things the world throws at us. We relate to his protagonists not because of the monsters they face, but because of everything else in between. We struggle with addiction, deep personal flaws, the loss of people dear to us. We can relate to the wonder and terror of childhood, and the existential ache that comes when we grow up and put away childish things. King’s horrors are those of simply being alive. He’s one of us, and that’s exactly why he knows what makes us tick. His writing returns us back to ourselves, and we embrace him for it.

*Alisha Grauso is the Editorial Lead for Atom Tickets. When she’s not leading the circus there, you can find her yelling on Twitter @alishagrauso.


Big Time!

Before he was the horror titan we know today, Stephen King was just a writer working his butt off, trying to make it in the literary world. Eventually, he caught his big break with Carrie. This hilarious clipping from The Maine Campus, the University of Maine at Orono’s student newspaper, should serve as a great reminder that everyone starts somewhere.



We just finished celebrating Friday the 13th during a full moon (!!!), so while we’re still coming down from the horror high, check out these 13 things you may not have known about Friday the 13th (1980).

Get ready for Halloween season with these great horror book series’ for both kids and adults, from R. L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street” to Gemma Files’ “The Hexslinger” series.

We finally got a good look at the Are You Afraid Of The Dark? reboot with a new trailer.

Buzzfeed took a poll from their community to find out what movies were too creepy to finish and came up with this list of 22 titles. Remember, folks – horror’s subjective.

Award-winning sci-fi, fantasy, and horror editor Ellen Datlow has put together her full list of the best horror literature of the year. If you’re looking for great recommendations, look no further than this 4-part behemoth.

Experimental artist Maximillian is bringing his love of horror back to Los Angeles this fall with I Like Scary Movies, an interactive art installation that lets you walk through some of your favorite films including A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th.

If you’re a Stephen King fan you’ll want to check out these locations – many in Bangor, Maine – that either influenced his work or were used in adaptations like Pet SemataryStand By Me, and The Dead Zone.

King’s latest, The Institute, is unavoidably political, combining his skill for writing kids with the current political climate.

You may also be interested in these 10 pieces of IT trivia. Did you know it was inspired by a Norwegian folk tale about billy goats? We didn’t!

Nicholas Vince (Chatterer from Hellraiser) is bringing his one-man show, I Am Monsters!, to the London Horror Festival with stories of his work with Clive Barker, his experiences as a gay man in Thatcher’s Britain, and excerpts from some of his favorite horror literature.

Horror movie villains like JAWS’ Bruce, Wolf Creek‘s Mick Taylor, and Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill were inspired by some real-life baddies.


Canadian graphic designer Leigh Young has a tradition of bringing a little extra flair to her Midnight Madness tickets at the Toronto International Film Festival, and this year was no different. From the opening night Indigenous zombie film Blood Quantum to the Ugandan closing night extravaganza, Crazy World, she brought her unique style to each film.


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