They Are Watching You

(Nightmares in the Sky)

Happy New Year!

This will be short because there’s not a lot here. I’m also out of order — the book I’m talking about today was published in 1988. However, I just discovered it for the first time, so I figure that maybe you, whoever you are, will want to discover it too.

This book is called Nightmares in The Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques. I don’t actually know if it can properly be called a Stephen King book at all — he did the writing for it, as much as there is, but this is a coffee table book of mostly pictures. The other name on the book besides King’s — the photographer’s — is f-stop Fitzgerald, which is a super-cute pseudonym. I’d link you to something, but honestly, from a cursory search, I couldn’t tell for sure if I was finding the man behind this book or if other photographers have picked up the moniker — I found a few different ones, I’m pretty sure. And I’m honestly not inclined to do a deep enough dive to sort out who’s who — but it’s a memorable name, so if you feel so inclined, you’ll definitely find results if you search it.

Anyway, back to Stephen King. His name appears on the cover, the same size type as f-stop Fitzgerald’s, but this book is mostly photos. King wrote an essay that takes up probably less than a third of the book, and that’s about it. It’s an interesting book — photos of the gargoyles you see on buildings in New York City — and if I were inclined to set coffee table books out myself, this is the kind I’d want. Interesting and a bit disturbing. But I’m not sure it qualifies as a Stephen King book so much as it’s an f-stop Fitzgerald book with some words written by Stephen King.

That’s not to say that there’s anything the matter with King’s essay, by the way. I thought I might be bored because what do I care about architecture, statues, or New York City? But King continues his streak of making everything except baseball interesting to me here.

He discusses what made him decide to do this project in the first place (actually stopping and looking at the gargoyle statues that most people just walk by.) Then he goes on to talk more about gargoyles in general. Apparently, he let Joe watch a rather dark — and probably bad — TV movie about gargoyles when Joe was only about two and a half. Watching it periodically became a thing between them; they could quote lines at each other and everything. In case anyone’s wondering why Joe ended up having a voice so much like Stephen King’s, I think I have the answer. Part of it, anyway.

There’s some history on architectural gargoyles — they’re mostly basically just dressed-up drainpipes, a fact that sounds so familiar to me that I’m pretty sure I heard or read it somewhere before and just filed it away somewhere in the “not really necessary information” part of my brain. For all I know, I got it out of another Stephen King book — I can’t think of a place where that’s mentioned, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there is one.

I live in Florida. There aren’t a lot of stone gargoyles on buildings here. I feel like this information would hit a bit differently if I were walking by these daily.

He makes some comparisons — drainpipes get rid of the wastewater, gargoyles get rid of fear-waste. The bit that gives me the spooks is when he keeps going back to how many people walk by or under these things every day but never really see them… but what if they’re watching us? This thought, combined with the faces of the gargoyles, which really are something to see, gave me a shiver.

Content aside, I always like reading King when he’s just speaking as King, not writing a character. I feel like he’d be interesting to talk to. This essay is no exception. It’s worth reading. And the photos are definitely worth looking at.

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