Editor’s note: Story updated Oct. 5.
Stephen King will launch his newest book, “Hearts in Suspension,” at the University of Maine on Nov. 7 with a reading of the book and discussion of his student days at UMaine during the turbulent Vietnam War era, followed by a conversation with his former classmates and friends who were at UMaine with him during this time and who co-authored the collection.
The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Collins Center for the Arts. Doors open at 6 p.m., with all ticket holders required to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m.
Tickets are free and available according to the following timeline: Members of the University of Maine campus community can register for one ticket each with a MaineCard at the CCA box office, during normal box office hours, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 12–14. Members of the public can register for two tickets per person online or at the CCA box office beginning Oct. 17.
All tickets are general admission and will be available for pick up, with photo ID, at the Collins Center for the Arts box office beginning at 1 p.m. Nov. 7. For further ticket information or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.581.1755.
The 373-page “Hearts in Suspension,” published by the University of Maine Press, a division of UMaine’s Fogler Library, marks the 50th anniversary of King’s enrollment at UMaine — fall 1966. In the years that followed, the escalating Vietnam War and social unrest nationwide, especially on college and university campuses, had “a profound impact on students of the period and deeply influenced King’s development as a writer and a man,” according to the publisher on the book’s dust jacket.
The volume includes a reprint of “Hearts in Atlantis,” which tracks the “awakenings and heartbreak” of his fictional counterpart, Peter Riley, during his first year at UMaine. The novella is accompanied by King’s new essay, “Five to One, One in Five,” in which he reflects on his undergraduate years, creating “a revealing portrait of the artist as (a) young man and a ground-level tableau of this highly charged time.”
Along with photographs and documents of this era at UMaine are four installments of King’s student newspaper column, “King’s Garbage Truck.” The columns, reprinted for the first time, are described by the publisher as “lively examples of King’s damn-the-torpedoes style.” The entertaining and shrewd youthful perceptions “more than hint at a talent about to take its place in the American literary landscape.”
The book also features essays by 12 of King’s classmates and friends, including Jim Bishop, one of King’s college English teachers and the book’s editor. As a sophomore, King enrolled in a writing workshop taught by Bishop and English professor Burton Hatlen, where the young author’s talent was validated and where he connected with other student writers. The group of dedicated young writers continued to meet in the semesters following the transformational class.
In addition to Bishop’s essay and his introduction to the book, there are other personal narratives reflecting on the UMaine student experience by Michael Alpert, David Bright, Keith Carreiro, Harold Crosby, Sherry Dec, Bruce Holsapple, Frank Kadi, Diane McPherson, Larry Moskowitz, Jim H. Smith and Philip Thompson. Bright was the editor of the student newspaper, Crosby was King’s freshman roommate and Moskowitz was the head of the SDS chapter on campus. All were with King in the anti-war movement and bear witness to “a formative time in their lives and a defining moment in the country’s history,” according to the publisher on the book’s dust jacket.
“Hearts in Suspension” is dedicated in memory of Hatlen and two of King’s other inspirational professors at UMaine: Edward “Ted” Holmes and Edward “Sandy” Ives.
Copies of “Hearts in Suspension” will be for sale at the Collins Center following the event, and available at bookstores nationwide after Nov. 7. Copies may also be pre-ordered now from the University of Maine Press website: umaine.edu/umpress/forthcoming-books/hearts-in-suspension
King has published more than 50 books. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the 2014 National Medal of Arts. Earlier this year, the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature was established at UMaine by a generous gift of $1 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745