Thanks, Phat! You are sweet.
I really love how passionate everyone is here about this and the lively discussion! It is great! You've given me a real reason to think hard before I post on this subject, which I appreciate.
Most of King's writings, at their core, have to do with the struggle between good and evil and the temptations people face. Many of his books even have a quite religious tone to them. At its heart, "The Stand" is not only apocalyptic in nature, but also brings up serious questions. What is it to be a human being and true to oneself and true to one's community? What is faith? What would you do if you had nothing left to lose - or to gain? Would you still have faith in the God of your choosing?
King does a masterful job of placing ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Along with the main story line of the end of civilization, which by the way has become more realistic now, not by Captain Trips but by terrorism, WMD and anthrax, he places a love story between Stu and Frannie, and he writes about people who are weak and succumb as well as the people who are strong enough to carry on and rebuild a civilization that has crumbled; and he posits a very serious scenario of what could happen if the worst should happen.
Diahann speaks of people who gravitate toward powerful leaders, and her point is valid. Can anyone say "Nazi"? Honorable German citizens did horrible acts, which would have been unthinkable for them prior to Hitler. But they followed a charismatic leader much as Flagg's followers do.
Lloyd Henried breaks my heart. He knows he is following the wrong leader, though he aches to follow the right one. He would have been a soldier for the Lord if things had gone differently for him. He makes a conscious choice to follow Flagg, and he ultimately breaks his own heart. He could have been a good man - he was this close. Miguel Ferrer is perfect for this role as a man torn between choices.
I do not agree that Americans would go to a theocratic government. I think America would be fractured into small governments, if the worst happened.
King will never write a sequel. He had to be almost forced by his publisher and fans into finishing the "Dark Tower" series. Once he's done, he's done.
King has always managed to write horror books with extraordinary emotion. To me, his books are memorable, and in the can't-put-down category. I have read other horror authors, such as Dean Koontz, and those books go in one ear and out the other. I couldn't remember them or their characters on a bet. But I bet you I could tell you every plot and most characters of any King book. They are not desert island books - those are reserved for Cheever and Helprin - but King is always good for a late night read, and memorable. Wonderful for a winter night as the snow swirls outside, with a glass of red wine, in a reading chair under a lamp, while the cat curls up on your feet.
And on that note, I will take my leave. The iguana needs his bath; and I need sleep.