First let me say, that I’m not highly read in the King universe. I’ve had some exposure with Uncle Stevie when he was a guest columnist on Entertainment Weekly. Here’s two of my favs (1) (2). That being said, I also don’t gravitate towards the horror section. I’m an easy sell in the Young Adult and Chick Lit (not those harlequin series books and what not though) genres.
Now when we decided to do a Halloween-type of book because it is October, we had books like Dracula in the mix. I’m not sure what compelled us to do The Shining, but I’m glad we did. I enjoyed reading it more than I thought I would, even when I was close to dying from fear. The book has a constant mysterious air about it, and when King starts to tap into those feelings, they come flooding in. I found it relatively easy to switch between the different characters’ views, and it definitely helped to understand where each character lies in relation to the other. It makes some decisions the characters make to be understood, despite the dislike of them; at least from my standpoint.
I think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the book, and across literature, is finding universal truths and beliefs. Mind you, this book was published in 1977. That says quite a lot about the novel and King’s writing. There is something darkly beautiful in the fact that King can so easily manipulate readers into a sense of fear and show how decisions often are surrounded in gray matter. All of these decisions build and affect how you view the final chapters of the book. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but there is a heart-wrenching moment at the end of the book. To me it’s crazy how one line can alter the whole mood of the story and change your emotions from fear, to despair, to hope with a trace of sadness. This line did that to me, “‘Doc,’ Jack Torrance said. ‘Run away. Quick. And remember how much I love you’” (p. 632). So simple, but when thought of a whole to the story thus far and how attached you become to the whole universe created by the author, it is also so simple to change perspectives.
The book isn’t just filled with horror, there is quite a bit of humor mixed in and I found myself smirking from time to time. I’m pretty sure the origin of a meme originated from the book as well. The cook, named Hallorann says to a minor character, “Those avocados is too damn high, you cheapskate!” (p. 457) I’ve included a picture and caption of the meme known today as proof.
In summary, I was pleasantly surprised by the story and was pleased that this novel was my first introduction to the King universe. While I’m not completely won over to the horror genre, I’m definitely more receptive to the idea. There is a sequel to The Shining, but I’m not sure my poor nerves can handle it so soon (anyone get the kinda-sorta-reference?).
If you were looking for a more plot driven review please do comment. I would also like to redirect you to the Wikipedia page, just beware of spoilers!
As always best wishes,
We read the Anchor Book Paperback 2013 edition. ISBN: 9780345806789.