Books

Stephen King Explains Why He’s a Mystery Writer Not So Big on Mystery

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Stephen King’s new novel, “Holly,” is his sixth book to feature the private investigator Holly Gibney, who made her debut as a mousy side character in the 2014 novel “Mr. Mercedes” and has become more complicated and interesting with each subsequent appearance. King appears on the podcast this week to tell the host Gilbert Cruz about Holly’s hold on his imagination and the ways she overlaps with parts of his own personality. Along the way, he also tells a dad joke, remembers his friend Peter Straub, and discusses his views on writing and life.

“Writing is partially an escape valve, but it’s also a way of understanding what’s going on in your life and what’s going on in a particular story. Those things are part of the reason to write at all, I think,” King says. “I don’t think you should think a lot about the act of writing as you write, because I think that’s counterproductive. But when you finish, you should be able to say to yourself, Why did I spend that time? Why did I take all these hours when I could have been walking or meeting with my children or doing something else?”

Also on this episode, Cruz talks with Joumana Khatib about some of the month’s most anticipated new titles. Here are the books discussed in this week’s September preview:

  • “The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith

  • “Elon Musk,” by Walter Isaacson

  • “The Iliad,” by Homer. Translated by Emily Wilson

  • “Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier,” by Marisa Meltzer

  • “Land of Milk and Honey,” by C. Pam Zhang

  • “American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15,” by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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