Friday, March 26, 2010

"The Shining" by Stephen King

The Shining
In the latest reprint of the paperback, with a new introduction by the author, King said that he came to a crossroads with this novel. He could keep doing what he did with "Salem's Lot" and "Carrie" or he could take it to the next level.

That next level was that Jack Torrance had an abusive father, and through the vicious loop, he had abusive tendencies, as well. That's what made the book so scary. The hotel was beginning to make him crazy, but there was something underneath that the hotel needed to get to, like his alcoholism and anger. With those powers combined, AAAAAAAHHHHH!

Not to mention topiaries that attacked.

It was a great novel, and just like "Salem's Lot" it was mostly a slow burn, with a few horrific moments inside. I think this was the advent of King's ability to get inside the heads of all his characters, and therefore, the book was more psychological. It's also a book that a classroom could sit down and dig into.

What is the motif of the wasp nest? These metaphors buzzed around in the book in places, and I could see a literature class dissecting it and really digging deeper.

Each of the three characters are all strong on their own, and King does a good job giving each one a voice. Wendy is a stronger woman than she gives herself credit for, and even though she decided to stay with Jack, regardless of his alcoholism, it ended up the better choice because Jack was smart enough to snap out of it. Danny's voice, I think, was a tad bit harder for King to get. Now, it's been a long time since I was 5, too, but some of the thoughts King gave Danny seemed a little too old for the kid. It's forgivable, though, because it wasn't constant. There were only pockets of it, then Danny would be 5 again. I get that he has a bit of "the shining" and so he is super-perceptive... I guess King could argue that would be why Danny seemed a bit older at times.

In the end, the entire story worked. King gave us history, a few murderous scenes, and a masquerade party that kept happening in many ghostly ways.

I think the one part of the novel I didn't like, and it's not King's fault, was the narrator reading, "Unmask! Unmask! Unmask!" That made me cringe.


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