#ShineOn: The Shining by Stephen King

I am not the world’s biggest Stephen King fan – much to my dismay. That honor might go to Bridget. Or David. However when I heard Jill would be hosting another Stephen King read along (I belatedly joined the #ITalong), I knew I would have to participate. Not only was it The Shining, one of the early “classic King” novels, but it’s set during a snowy Colorado winter (which I am currently suffering through – I finished The Shining during the storm in that picture). Perfect.  It also provided me with the excuse to go visit The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration behind The Shining (thus accomplishing 7 & 8 from this list). I visited room 217, watched Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, and had a generally pleasant stay with limited ghost encounters (my hotel key mysteriously disappeared, which is not a natural occurrence in my very organized travel style – ghost, no?).

The Stanley

Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance have a seemingly wonderful opportunity to act as caretakers for the isolated The Overlook for the winter. As soon as the snow starts, the hotel will be cut off from civilization, as Rocky Mountain winters are notoriously brutal. Jack figures this will be the perfect time to get back on track with his life, spend quality time with his family, and finally become America’s next great writer. Because Jack has been known to get off track – it has already cost him his future in teaching and possibly his marriage. Why? Jack has a wicked temper and trouble with alcohol – two things that never mix well.

Are you sure self-pity is a luxury you can afford, Jack?

Danny, Jack and Wendy’s 5 year old son, is special and The Overlook knows it. The Overlook also knows it can’t get Danny unless it gets Jack, as both Jack and The Overlook are haunted by demons – the former metaphorically and the latter physically. King’s portrayal of Jack’s unraveling is divine; if a tad dull in the first half. He spends a long time setting the story, interjecting quite a bit of back story, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to try and retain any sympathy for Jack’s downward spiral. And do try; if successful it intensifies the horror of The Overlook destroying Jack’s best intentions (which pave the road to hell).

One of King’s trademarks is his use of place as a character. It’s one aspect of his writing that is consistently brilliant. Just like Derry in IT, the TR in Bag of Bones, Jerusalem’s Lot in ‘Salem’s Lot, The Overlook is a pivotal character in The Shining – and one of King’s most malevolent creations.
TheShiningKingThe Shining will remind you that Stephen King is a master storyteller. While I do consider it a horror novel, it is not gruesome. Violent? Yes. Ultimately, it leans more towards disturbing, suspenseful literature. Regardless, it’s good, though not his best and far from his worst. If you read it now, you’ll be prepared for Doctor Sleep in September. So go on and pull your copy out of the freezer. It’s not gonna hurt ya.

Darling, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.

Not to be redundant, but I adore pizza. It can be comforting and you might be in need of a little comfort after completing The Shining. Or maybe you just like pizza – either way, enjoy.

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  • Care

    I like pizza. LOVE this post! and yes, a ghost definitely stole your key.

    • Rory O’Connor

      Thank you, I think it was a ghost too.

      And my love for pizza may be a sickness…

  • Charleen

    lol Thank you for the Friends reference. Can’t tell you how many times, when I read this last year, I had people asking if I needed to stick it in the freezer.

    • Rory O’Connor

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you caught it. There’s nothing worse than throwing in a perfectly good reference/joke/wordplay and having no one notice.

      Amended to include not catching an obvious typo and having a pedantic commenter point it out…

  • Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    That is so awesome that you were able to visit The Stanley Hotel. I had no idea that there was an actual place that was used as inspiration. 🙂
    I read this recently for the first time, well actually listened. I was actually surprised at how not scary it was. But King has that special touch where he doesn’t have to be scary, his writing is subtly creepy. Love it.

    • Rory O’Connor

      Apparently he stayed in it the night before it closed for extensive renovations, so it was practically empty and that gave him the idea (he stayed in room 217).

      Subtly creepy is an apt description for the novel. The Overlook is rather insidious.

  • Sheila (Book Journey)

    MMMM the pizza looks yummy. I too like that King uses places as characters, and what a character The Overlook is!

    • Rory O’Connor

      I could easily live off of pizza and be perfectly satisfied. Thus I’m thankful I still possess a shred of common sense…

      Generally some of his place characters are my favorites from his novels, particularly Derry in IT.

  • softdrink

    Nice use of the freezer reference. 😉
    And I can’t believe you stayed in The Overlook’s inspiration! Aaaaaaah!!! Even if I didn’t think much of the book as a whole, I did find the hotel to be sinister and I was quite glad that it never snows here on the coast (and that I was reading from the safety of my own home).

    • Rory O’Connor

      The hotel really plays up its history, there’s a gift shop with The Shining memorabilia and they give ghost tours and such. It’s a fun place, though I didn’t have any ghostly encounters (and wouldn’t want any).

      And I’m so done with the snow. It’s snowing again today and likely the rest of the week.

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