This is one of those Stephen King books my brother and I owned but never got around to reading, and I think for the most part that’s a good thing. The book itself, written by King when he was like 33 or so, is a collection of literary analysis (or more so cultural analysis) of horror genre (fiction, movies, radio, and tv) and is written at about the depth of solid criticism (while constantly averring about in depth scholarly analysis).
I came away from it with an appreciation that as I always noted, Stephen King is a pretty good reader, and that his insights I mostly agree with, except for his clear limits (that of gender or Queer studies). Mostly though, it’s a solid pre-1980s boom novel about horror genre that is a good entryway into things before Stephen King.
It more or less ends with 1980, give or take, and includes some recent work by Peter Straub, Anne River Siddons, and King himself, but before the new crop of writers in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. My edition also has a long essay circa 2010 of things since, which feel incomplete in plenty of ways, but continues the conversation.
It’s not an analysis of why readers read things, but there’s some, and he mentions constantly his opening essay from Night Shift, which dives into that question. I came away with a good list of things to read, and plenty of movies to look into, and a bunch of tv and radio I will not be looking into at all.