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?).
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.
The 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.