I'm pretty sure I've read some Stephen King before, but I'm not sure what. I know I've read The Running Man, but I'm not so sure about stuff he's written under his real name. I've a vague recollection of a book featuring about a rich writer and a terrifying lake, which doesn't really narrow it down all that much.
Anyway, horror's a genre I can generally take or leave, which I perhaps why King has never really been a writer I've felt in any great need to track down. While The Gunslinger isn't horror, I'm not sure that this was the best place to (re?)start, either. This version is what I suppose we could call the second edition, having been revised and polished by the author when a car accident made him realise he should probably get around to finishing the series. In his introduction he's fondly critical of the abilities of his younger self (as I suppose we all are), and you can see why; it's rough around the edges and, as a story, fairly aimless. Its original sections were originally published separately in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and there's a certain lack of coherence about the book as a whole. The male gaze is also present throughout, to an almost hilarious extent.
However, however, however… It's also obvious how this could spawn something much, much bigger. After barely managing to read two books over the last three months, I got through this in a day. Despite being hampered by the least threatening name ever, Roland is an excellent protagonist and if the quest plot device is so transparent as to be almost non-existent, then the atmosphere is brilliantly evoked. Think it'll be worth trying to stay ahead of the movies on this series.