June 23, 2009

The Shining

Filed under: Book Reviews — Robert John Ed @ 2:56 am

Never had I read a Stephen King novel.  The movie was and is one of my favorites, it was impeccably shot and truly haunting when watched alone or in complete dark.  My favorite Nicholson performance, bar none.  It just set a standard for me in terms of films.  Horror films are often cheap and poorly done, despite the amount of money poured into them.  Kubrick really had a way of making things jump.  I still don’t like watching 2001 on my own, it’s freaky as hell.  I still do though.  :-)  The real issue for most horror films is the lack of intensity.  I’m not sure if it’s the story that drives that, the director or the actors.  Maybe some mix of all three.

Something there is that keeps me away from King, Koontz and other contemporary writers with the ability to shell out novels endlessly.  Maybe it’s my obvious counterculture mentality, I don’t know.  Either way, I steadily look for the obscure and introspective.  The reflective words and sentences that stick with you for days and months and years.

Why “The Shining” then?  I failed miserably in trying to read my last book; I’m finding that dry historical detailing is not my bag.  A friend recommended it to me after a discussion of the movie, which was elegantly detailed as such:  “Fuck the movie, read the book.”  This may be a paraphrase, I can’t recall for sure, but this person has read all of King’s novels and was adamant toward the book.  I’ve owned it for some time, picked it up at an antique shop before moving to Minneapolis, four years ago.  In fact, my next books (Pilgrim At Tinker Creek and a biographical Rembrandt Time Life volume) were purchased the same day!  It’s news to me that Dillard wrote her thesis on my favorite book, Walden.  I’m going off on tangents again.

Let me say this.  This was the scariest book I’ve ever read.  Horror certainly isn’t my forte, but I can see how it would become addictive if one allowed oneself.  I read it in about 6 sittings.  The first two were in my apartment alone with one light on.  The slow creeping dread at what is to come clutches you so tightly that it’s hard to keep reading, yet incredibly difficult to stop as well.  The story is quite gripping, the impending doom and deliberate misunderstanding are decidedly satisfying.  There is also quite a difference between what happens in the film and what happens between these pages.  One thing, I read a lot of the book while in public on flights to Denver and Atlanta.  This was  bad idea.  It hardly ruined anything, but the ominous silence that accompanies one light and an unoccupied space can’t be converted at a proper currency.  Read it alone.  Read it at night.  But above all else, read it.

Here is the copy I have, I dig the cover:



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