Item #4834 THE DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER - INSCRIBED TO JOHN D. MACDONALD. Stephen King, Michael Whelan, novel, illustrations.


West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1984. Second Edition. "The Gunslinger begins the quest by Roland, the gunslinger, to track and confront the "man in black," who knows, perhaps, the secret of the "Dark Tower." As he travels across the barren landscape of King's alternate world, sometimes alone, sometimes with a boy named Jake, Roland recalls fragments of his own past. He finally confronts the man in black, who reads his future with a Tarot deck" (Barron, Horror Literature: A Reader's Guide 4-164). Among King's most widely-read works, successfully merging elements of the spaghetti western and epic fantasy. Basis for Nikolaj Arcel's 2017 film adaptation (The Dark Tower), starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.

An association copy of the highest caliber. To the casual reader, the connection between King and John D. MacDonald (1916-1986) may not be immediately apparent, but despite a 31 year age difference, there was a strong friendship between the two men, and depth of mutual admiration. Prior to the publication of Night Shift (1978), King's first story collection, his editor Bill Thompson asked him who he'd like to write the introduction, putting the question to him thusly: "If you could have anyone in the world do the introduction to the book, who would you pick?" King's automatic response was "John D. MacDonald." When asked why, he responded, "Because he taught me everything I know...Because I idolize him." King, fearful the quality of his stories were not up to snuff, and certain that MacDonald would be too busy, felt it was a long shot; he was shocked when his editor called and read him a letter from MacDonald, who said he would read the stories, and if he liked them, would write the introduction. "His agreement to do that introduction and its prompt arrival a couple of weeks later pleased and impressed me more than the kind things the essay itself had to say about my work; MacDonald's generosity to a young writer who he'd never met helped to keep that young writer open to the needs -- and wistful hopes -- of other young writers."

For King, an introduction by MacDonald was a huge deal. At the time, he had Carrie, Salem's Lot, and The Shining beneath his belt; MacDonald, writing pulps since 1946, and novels under his own name since 1951, was already a household name, thanks to the success of his Travis McGee novels. He would ultimately make a friend of his literary idol, meeting MacDonald and his wife Dorothy, and exchanging frequent letters until MacDonald's death in 1986. In a 1987 interview, King affirmed his admiration for MacDonald's style and influence: "I had cut my teeth on his stories. I still think that of all the people doing top fiction today, he is the best. He was my model as a kid. If there are people out there that want to write, all you need to do is read 20 of his stories to get an idea what it takes to make a story kick over."

cf. Scott, Steve. Blog post: "The Stephen King Connection." The Trap of Solid Gold: Celebrating the works of John D. MacDonald. October 29, 2011. Konstantin, Phil. "An Interview with Stephen King." The Highway Patrolman, July, 1987. Item #4834

One of 10,000 copies. Octavo (23.5cm); black cloth, with titles stamped in gilt on spine; pictorial endpapers; dustjacket; [10],11-224pp; illus. Inscribed by King to John D. MacDonald on the title page: "For John - Welcome to the weird, weird west - Stephen King 4/10/84." Spine lean, base of spine bumped, light finger-soil to front cover, with moderate foxing to text edges, preliminary, and terminal leaves, occasionally along the margins throughout the text; Very Good+. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $20.00), spine-sunned, with modest shelf wear, and a few tiny nicks, tears, and attendant creases - two of them neatly mended on verso; Very Good.

Price: $17,500.00