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Danse Macabre Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

4 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book, he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students. Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.

The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."

That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and also strikingly intelligent. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

King's 1987 disquisition on the nature, quality, and substance of the horror genre from 1950 to 1980 gains new life as an audiobook, and listeners will enjoy (and enjoy disagreeing with) King's conclusions and seeing which ones have held up. A new introduction features King revisiting his book and recent horror narratives. William Dufris narrates with a clear, easygoing tone that works well with King's playful and enthusiastic prose. Dufris keeps up with King's shifting tone and even attempts the occasional goofy impersonation when King's writing suggests it, such as the devious laugh of the Crypt Keeper. Though its breadth can be overwhelming, the book becomes a delight to listen to in the hands of Dufris's skillful performance—and listeners will leave with an extensive list of must-see and must-read material. A Berkley paperback. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1480541834
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480541832
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,070,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Weaver on January 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As many of the other reviews here imply, whether or not you'll like DANSE MACABRE really depends on how much you're interested in reading what and how people think about literature. Obviously, being a fan of horror stories doesn't mean you like to read about what people think about horror, and from the reviews people wrote here, I'd say they expected to read a Stephen King novel.
Still, this seems to me like a good book for people who don't want to get too deep into literary critism but would like to think about horror at another level. The book's best feature is King's breezy readable style. I'm surprised at the people who had a hard time getting through it because it's an extremely readable book. (Again, I can only guess it's because these people don't like this kind of book--they bought it expecting something else). I've used this book in a course I've taught on horror film and fiction, and it's been pretty well received by my students. The drawbacks (if you think of them as drawbacks) are:
1. King has little to say about his own fiction or the many film versions of it.
2. It jumps all over the place. King does have some intersting things to say about novels like FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA but not all that much. That's fair enough--this book is as much an account of what makes horror interesting for King as it is about the horror genre--but it leaves me wanting more.
Good book for someone who's just getting into reading about horror as a genre, but probably less than satisfying to somebody who wants more. I'd actually recommend Twitchell's DREADFUL PLEASURES as a better introduction to horror--but I'd bet people who were bored with this book would also hate that one (even though I think it's quite readable).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my favorite Stephen King book--I've read it considerably more times than any of his other works. I don't think it's any secret what makes this book so enjoyable--it's really what makes all of his books work--his storytelling power. He has such a friendly, compelling narrative voice--it's like he's casually, and yet powerfully sharing secrets with you, and you can't wait to hear what he has to say next. It might help to enjoy DANSE MACABRE if you are a horror fiction/film fanatic, but then again, it might just make you one even if you're not--it had that effect on me. I tried to see as many of the films and read as many of the books he discussed as I could. (I don't share his warm feelings for the movie "Prophesy" or Peter Straub's "Ghost Story," but join him in highly recommending Ramsey Campbell's horribly titled "The Doll Who Ate His Mother" and the unforgettable "Dawn of the Dead.") Next I moved on to the list of recommended books and movies at the end, and found most of those very worthwhile as well. If you're borderline compulsive like I am, finding a list like that is probably a bad thing--you can't rest until you've checked everything off it, which would probably take a lifetime. I've worked on it on and off for over a decade and am not much more than half done. But the quest goes on, for which I must thank Mr. King, and more specifically, this delightful, engaging, illuminating book.
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Format: Paperback
In a perfect world Stephen King would revise "Danse Macabre" and offer us an updated edition of his look at the world of horror in literature and films. After all, it has been two decades since "Danse Macabre" was first published and horror is bigger business than ever. Since then King has published several dozen books, including his magnum opus "It," while several notable authors in the field, such as Clive Barker and Laurell K. Hamilton, have emerged. Certainly it would be fascinating to see where King places Pinhead and Anita Blake in the rich tapestry of horror.
King professes that this analysis of horror is "a moving, rhythmic search" for "The place where we live at our most primitive level." But "Danse Macabre" is not just an academic colloquium because there are large measures of autobiography and criticism thrown into the mix as well. For King everything is fair game and he is as likely to talk about "Tourist Trap," a personal favorite film that the rest of us have never heard about, as he is "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby." This is a book where you can pick it up and start reading at any point and find it interesting. After all, this has clearly been the man's life.
I have been reading through "Danse Macabre" again, looking for ideas for a reading list for a class on Modern Fantasy in which Horror literature is a large component. However, in addition to commenting on or at least mentioning dozens of horror novels and short stories, King also sets up a basic schema for considering such works.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read many books of criticism and opinion on the subject of horror fiction. However, no single author has been able to cover the field of modern horror better than Stephen King. In Danse Macabre King makes the field of horror accessible to the general reader. There are books which explain the Freudian overtones of Dracula or the anti-establishment message of Night of the Living Dead which is, for all practical purposes, useless. English and Cinema majors may find it useful, but the general reader has no time or concern for these trifles. King, while at times veering off topic, gives the reader a road map for the field of horror. He introduces and discusses writers which the general reader of fiction may never have heard of, like James Herbert and Harlan Ellison. And never does the book become boring. King's love for the genre shows in this work. It is like attending an Einstein lecture on Physics; it may get a bit complicated at times, but you know that old Al will bring an energy and enthusiasm to the subject which no one else could ever hope to copy.
Other Books Recommended: Stephen Jones and Kim Newman's Horror 100 Best Books (Unusual, Unorthodox, Unbelievable, The Single best book on horror by one than more author)
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