‘Salem’s Lot

Magic and Imagery #12

The town knew about darkness.

It knew about the darkness that comes on the land when rotation hides the land from the sun, and about the darkness of the human soul.

The original paperback cover of ‘Salem’s Lot is what arrested me.  It’s grandeur can’t really be seen in the photo above, but it was a solid, glossy black, with the face of a girl embossed.  The only spot of color was a drop of crimson at the corner of her lips — an image at once evocative of a tombstone, the darkness, and the undead.

Later editions were published without the embossing — it was too expensive — and instead showed the same face, but with blue, unearthly highlights.

I believe it was the paperback marketing of this novel and Carrie — along with Brian DePalma’s film adaptation in 1976 — that really turned Stephen King into the known author he is today.  Carrie’s first paperback was a double spread — her face on the cover, and when you opened it up, a second scene of her town in flames.  Back then, books were marked in small dumps not only in bookstores, but at cash registers in department stores.  I bought Carrie at Montgomery Ward’s.  That’s good marketing, both visually and at point of purchase.  I wonder what would happen if they did that now . . .

‘Salem’s Lot remains my favorite of his novels.  I also believe it is his single best novel, and also his scariest.

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