Patterson and King battle each other bestseller lists, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Patterson wrote a book (with co-author Derek Nikitas) titled The Murder of Stephen King.
Writing a novel imagining the attempted killing of an actual living person is inherently a dicey affair. Nicholson Baker faced much criticism for his 2004 novel Checkpoint, about a depressed loser who talks about plans to kill George W. Bush. The Patterson/Nikitas fabulation strikes a little too close to home since King has had a problem with fans who impinge on his privacy. Fear that a reader might do him harm underlies King’s 1987 Misery, where a novelist is held captive by a rabid fan.
“My book is a positive portrayal of a fictional character, and, spoiler alert, the main character is not actually murdered,” Patterson wrote in a press release on Thursday. “Nevertheless, I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish The Murder of Stephen King.”
The news will likely put a damper on Jonathan Franzen’s proposed novel, The Slow Decapitation of Jonathan Safran Foer, and Joyce Carol Oates’s 700-page tome, Don DeLillo Gets Beaten to a Pulp.