The King of pain will scare up plenty of tears for himself when he caps his pen for good (#674, Sept. 27). ”Stephen King’s writing is better than ever,” says Faith Siegler of Hortonville, Wis. ”He will be missed.” Kissimmee, Fla.’s Ann Gannarelli criticized King’s critics: ”Shakespeare, Austen, Verne, King. Each adored, revered, and studied for ages to come. How foolish we are to overlook Mr. King’s talent simply because his stories are so much fun!” The cover photo, however, brought another fright to the mind of Cara Ventresca of Melrose, Mass.: ”He looks exactly like the Grinch!” And our decision to give so much space to American Idol Kelly Clarkson made John Shade Vick of Port Orange, Fla., shriek. ”EW uses a page to inform us that Clarkson sucks, while legendary genius Peter Gabriel receives a three-sentence review (and an A-)? Does EW even know which end is Up?” Now, that’s a low blow!

Every Inch a King

Since an early age, Stephen King’s work has taught me to be resourceful. My parents were afraid his stories would give me nightmares, so I had to steal his books from my best friend’s big sister. I am now the same age Mr. King was when he published Carrie, and his work continues to inspire me. Every book he publishes is better than the last. MICHELLE KUBITZ Willmar, Minn.

A million thanks for the thoughtful article on Stephen King. For years I have loved his work both for the suspense and horror as well as his insight into human nature. Any critic who ”writes off” King as nothing but a horror hack needs to go back and see that the most frightening aspects found in his work are the horrors that occur in everyday life (child abuse, ostracism, loneliness, grief, greed, racism) and not the blood and gore which only he can so vividly describe. DANIELLE O’BRIEN Amsterdam, N.Y.

I applaud Stephen King for knowing when to quit. He shouldn’t have to spend his ”bonus round” feeding the beast of pop culture. Not that his recent works haven’t been enjoyable, but at some point, all of his characters, the plots, and the gimmicks became similar. As long as he coughs up those Dark Tower books, I won’t have to go all Annie Wilkes on him. BRIAN GOINS Jackson, Tenn.

Blind Comparison

I was rather shocked to read that Peter Mullan compared the Catholic Church to the Taliban (”Denzel Directs, Eminem Acts, Audiences Cheer”). The Catholic Church does not deny women their education, freedom, or any of the other ridiculous claims Mullan made. Catholic women are not forced into convents, nor are they denied their basic human rights. He is either miseducated on the subject or selfishly promoting his own project by slandering the church. MIKE BENNER Philadelphia

‘Idol’ Time

David Browne seems like he couldn’t wait for Kelly Clarkson’s single to come out before he ”sandblasts” her (Music). Here’s a young girl who sang her ass off for eight weeks, was rushed into the studio to record a couple of schmaltzy ballads, and he uses this as an excuse to lament what’s been wrong with pop music for the last decade. Well, Dave, dig this: The chick can sing, and she can actually have a great career if she sticks to her guns and sings the type of songs that made the audience love her in the first place. Those schmaltzy ballads are not her. FRANK SELVAGGI New York City