Jeff VanderMeer brings the cat out of the open bag, into the light: Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts) is Stephen King’s son.
Jeff’s right in that most everybody knew, but I’ve seen at least a couple of people find out who were SHOCKED, even people who’d met Hill. And after the Variety thing, it seemed odd that there were still blog posts disappearing that referenced this.
I do wonder if any of the reviewers (and there were several) who compared Hill’s work to King’s in their reviews actually didn’t know — perhaps they were all just being sly.
I have to say I was not surprised at all when I first found out about this. After reading "Best New Horror" and before knowing anything about who Hill was, I said to Christopher, "It’s going to turn out this is Stephen King writing under a pseudonym or something." But the reality’s much better, I think. And it’s time people are talking about this openly. So many people knew that even one not feels dishonest. The point has been made. The writing speaks for itself.
8 thoughts on “FINALLY”
For the record, I know Graham didn’t know, because he found out after he’d turned in the review and debated cutting the King references.
I had no earthly idea, but I don’t think I mentioned King in my review, either.
I just finished this collection. I had no idea, and I’m glad I didn’t. If I’d known, I’d have had too many expectations.
Hey, I was just going to write you and Graham and ask if you’d known, Niall. I actually went back and reread Graham’s review after reading VanderMeer’s post and wondered whether I should read anything into the King paragraph.
I really don’t think I would have made the King connection, Gwenda. I like his short stories – Everything’s Eventual is a great collection – but there’s a very palpable difference in the two writers’ attitudes towards their genre and its tropes. I actually think that on a sentence-by-sentence level, King is the better writer, but what Hill is doing with the genre’s clichés is much more interesting and complex than anything King has attempted.
I don’t even really know why I made the connection, to be honest, Abigail. Somehow, indefinably, it was just there (and I actually suspect that many of the reviewers who also drew comparisons to King probably didn’t know) for me. Part of it was just the sense of: “Where in the hell did a genre short story writer this accomplished come from all of a sudden? There must be more to this story.”
I do find it kind of interesting to do the surface comparison between the debuts of Owen King (which I haven’t read, but I did read several reviews of) and Joe Hill. Owen’s connection with his dad was mentioned in every single review I saw; on the other hand, it seems unlikely that a first literary short story collection would have been reviewed at all in, say, The New York Times, were it not for said connection. I’m pretty sure I think that Joe Hill’s stories would still have been up for all sorts of awards regardless, but there would have been this layer of suspicion there — that maybe he was coasting on his dad’s reputation, etc. I dunno. Interesting in the kind of idle gossip about semi-celebrities way we don’t have that much of in genreland.
It’s pretty interesting that both King’s sons have turned out to be (by most accounts) talented writers doing their own things.
I read the collection as well, and had no idea.
You know I reviewed his collection for Bookslut last month and I had no idea – and I didn’t compare him to King. I still think that “Voluntary Committal” is one of the best stories I have read in ages and ages and I do really like King alot but I don’t see the comparison so much. It’s kind of like “they both write horror so we must compare them?” I think it’s cool that both of the Kings have such a great writer for a son; clearly he has gotten some of their talent.
I loved Hill’s book regardless of who his dad is. The guy is a great (and original) writer.
Yep, I mostly agree with you Colleen (and thought your review was great — and I did wonder at the time if you’d heard the rumors). I do think that “Best New Horror”–which was the first story of his I read and the one that prompted my idle wondering if this was secretly Stephen King writing–has a bit of a Kingian vibe to the structure and characterization. And because much of what it’s riffing on is dependent on the existence of The Horror Field, something King’s work certainly played a key role in creating. I suppose what made me suspicious, again, is how closely observed and dead on acid the story is in places — it just didn’t feel like something a true newcomer to the field could quite have the perspective to write. But, of course, it makes perfect sense now.
And for the record, I too think it’s really cool that he wanted to be taken seriously as a writer on his own, letting the work speak for itself. But it’s time for this to be out in the open now, because we’ve gotten to the point where people are wondering, well, who knew all along? And the whole point risks being undercut. And also, it just feels a bit insidery when this stuff stays too closely traded for too long. I’m REALLY looking forward to his novel.
You’re right about “Best New Horror” Gwenda – I didn’t see it when I read the story because honestly the ending blew my mind wide open!!! I loved it. But thinking about it now, I can see the King comparisons. I imagine it is a bit of a pain to him to have to deal with admitting he is a King – he’s getting some nice recognition on his own but now it will be about his father as much as it is about him (to a certain extent).
Regardless of all that though – yeah, I’m all over that novel when it comes out!!!
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