Saturday, March 19, 2016

Why So Many of My Friends Didn't Like Insomnia by Stephen King

Years ago while driving somewhere around Charleston, SC I was listening to a local sport talk program on the radio. The subject for the afternoon was sport movies – good, bad and why. Callers phoned in and shared their opinions as did the show’s hosts. Pretty much every film one might mention was: Rocky (all of them up to that day), Hoosiers, Slap Shot – you name it. Then someone called in and named Field of Dreams. The caller hated the movie as did one of the hosts. The other one didn’t really give an opinion. That’s when I pulled over to find a phone booth, so I could chime in. Note: This was pre-cell days.

I made the call and after being placed on hold (listening to the program while I waited) I finally got my chance to voice my opinion and in doing so I told all who were listening (paraphrased):

“Those who didn’t like the movie, Field of Dreams, don’t understand it. Although centered around the game of baseball, it is not a sport movie. It is not about the game. It is about relationships.”

I went on to explain (attempt) how both the movie and book, Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella (Kevin Costner’s character in the film is Ray Kinsella) is about the main character’s relationship with his father and suggested that people with unresolved parental issues probably related to the story different than those who saw ghost ballplayers walking into a cornfield. After hanging up I was happy to hear two other call in and agree with me.

Of course this is my personal belief. I’ve never discussed the story with Mr. Kinsella (although I did meet him in Halifax years ago), but I’ll bet I’m at least partly right. A lot of people didn’t like the film, because they just didn’t get it and that brings us to Stephen King’s Insomnia.

I’m listening to the audio version of King’s story now. I love audiobooks, because I can strap on my fitbit, plug in the earbuds and listen while I walk. I did read the book about 15 years ago. It was my first taste of King, because I’m a late bloomer in horror. I never read it, until I started writing it. Anyway, for some reason when I mention the book on social media I always get at least one response from a friend who shares that he/she didn’t like it. I’m always amazed, because I must have loved it the first time (I read my second King book, It, immediately after finishing Insomnia). Still I’m once again forced to try to figure out reasons why so many didn’t like it.

Let’s make one thing clear: I don’t really know the reason(s). This is simply a guess. Also I’m not criticizing those who didn’t like it – we all have our tastes. Still I have to suggest a couple of reasons:

1.    Much of the story deals with the Pro Life/Pro Choice debate and some members of the first group are shown in less than approving light. Two of them are pretty damn nuts. To be fair, the other side of the argument is presented, but not as much.

2.    Most character(s) are older than we’re used to reading about in most books. The main character, Ralph, is 70 years old and others are near his age. I believe it’s difficult for some readers to relate to elderly protagonists. This I also understand. Most people under age 60 don’t have a clue what it is like to be senior citizen. It’s not something they really want to know about, because the next level beyond it is death.

Anyway – just something I was thinking about. We all have opinions and mine is that Field of Dreams is a damn good movie and the book (Shoeless Joe) is one of my favorites. Also Insomnia is pretty damn good as well. Of course even bad King is better than most everyone else. I’m probably partial, because I’m freakin’ old.



  1. Okay - just so you know I actually enjoy FIELD OF DREAMS - but INSOMNIA, not at all.

  2. LOL wait until you get to be my age. You might have a different view. :)