Do Books Lie?

Books lie?

Uh, yeah.

What? This is a surprise? Like when you found out that not everything on the internet is true?

Wake up and be a little skeptical now and then, okay? Remember that great bumper sticker — Question Authority? Try employing that concept once in a while.

One of my favorite books that lies is Fear Itself, edited by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller, published in 1982 by Underwood-Miller. It’s a book about the horror fiction of Stephen King with a foreword by King himself and an introduction by Peter Straub. It also has an afterword by George A. Romero of Night of the Living Dead fame.

Front of Fear Itself

Front of Fear Itself

Nice book. Love the color illustration on the front of the jacket, mainly because the illustration of King looks a lot like a bookseller buddy of mine named Bill Maxwell of Stockton, CA, at least when both he and King were young.

The book claims to be the first “to examine the entire scope of King’s literature.” Thus, there are chapters that explore King’s work by some pretty good writers and luminaries within his genre. Contributors include Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Don Herron, Fritz Leiber, Charles L. Grant, Douglas E. Winter, and others.

It also includes a chapter titled Stephen King: A Bibliography by Marty Ketchum, Daniel J. H. Levack, and Jeff Levin. Their chapter begins, “This work contains a checklist of the first appearances of the fiction, nonfiction, and interviews of Stephen King.” This begins on page 231. The book get dicey on the top of the very next page, to wit:

“Note: It has been stated that Richard Bachman is a pseudonym

of Stephen King. This is not the case. Mr. Bachman lives in

Bangor, Maine, and Stephen has never used this name as a



That’s a big fat NOOOOO!!!!!!!

Richard Bachman was in fact a pseudonym used by King to author four paperback originals — Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), and The Running Man (1982).

Richard Bachman?

Richard Bachman?

What’s the deal? King convinced his paperback publisher, Signet, to use the Bachman pseudonym so he could publish more than one book per year so as not to saturate his “Stephen King” market. King also wanted to see if his career was based on luck or talent. I would say both, although a lot of people look askance at King in terms of his being a serious writer because they don’t see his books at literary heavyweights. That’s as much baloney as the notion that King wasn’t Bachman. What is clear is that once King became the phenomenon known as Stephen King, his name on a book equaled sales, big sales. How so? The first Bachman hardcover was Thinner, published by New American Library in 1984. It carries a dust jacket photo of Bachman. If I remember correctly, it’s a photo of his insurance salesman It sold 28,000 copies originally, which is a very decent result. But once it was learned that King was indeed Bachman, the book sold 10 times that amount.

So, did King bibliographers in Fear Itself known the real truth or only the true told to them. Hmmmmm.


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