I"m in the middle of reading The Shining today. It was a lovely dark and rainy day, perfect to catch-up on one of my favourite horror novels. For some reason I forget how well-written King's novels are - he does description mixed with unsettling overtones very well. In one of my few times away from the book today, I found this interview with King today over at the Guardian Online. There are a few plot points given away, but if you are skilled at skimming as I think many of us are (so we don't get to spoil books we haven't read) then the interview is very good.
Doctor Sleep in 3 days!!!!! I've already ordered my copy from Amazon, though I did what is a silly thing - Amazon have changed their policy and if you select 'super saver no shipping costs', everything gets sent in one box. And one of the things I ordered takes a month to come in. So my plan to read it next weekend might not work out.......I used to be able to select that, and Amazon would send things separately anyway, which I keep hoping will happen.
The Shining is as good as ever. And frightening. Danny Torrance is one of the best 5 year old heroes in literature, and what he has to endure is horror. Some of what makes The Shining so frightening for me is that Danny has to endure it alone, and that scares me to think about. This is what makes the movie The Sixth Sense so scary for me too. Psychic children who have to deal with terror on their own. They are figures representing the terrors encountered in childhood, and how to find their way through it, except that The Shining is written for adults. We are both Danny Torrance, encountering the unknown, and his parents, simultaneously, adults who also encounter the unknown. And the horror in The Outlook affects adults and children. So no one is safe. Doesn't that creep you out just a bit? That's fear and horror that we all feel in our deep instinctual natures, far away from logic. The deep part of ourselves that knows that ghosts exist, remenants of the past, and badness and evil. This has been a very bad week in so many ways, in the world, and that fear of the evil people can do to one another that as a world we are witnessing - the mass shootings in the US on Monday, and in Kenya today - is the same kind of evil that lurks in minds everywhere. Most people are able to turn away from it, and choose love and kindness and compassion. But something in Jack Torrance - his willingness to blame his problems on anything but himself, really - his unacknowledged desire to strike out at everyone around him - the darkness that lies where people hurt one another - that is what is at the heart of The Shining. The isolation of The Overlook Hotel exaggerates whatever people bring with them to the hotel. It works on their innate sense of themselves. And then there is the Overlook Hotel itself, with the evil at the heart of it. Places do affect people. I firmly believe that buildings, places in natures, contain memories of what happens, impressions, sort of. But all this is to try to explain how The Overlook Hotel could be real, which is another way of saying, a haunted hotel can exist. And that is the question that horror novels try to answer: what happens if ghosts and haunted places are real?
I do know that if I had Danny Torrance's gift, or Dick Hallorann's, I wouldn't be able to stay at the Overlook Hotel. I know it's not a real place. I'm thankful!! But.....the book. The book scares me that much, that I can't read it when I'm alone. Delicious, creepy, haunting (certain scenes have haunted me for most of my life), frightening, as I watch the slow unravelling of Jack Torrance, his wife's inability to protect herself or see the truth until it is almost too late - though I don't blame her, she is a perfect characterization of what happens in a marriage - and Danny himself, small Danny, horror lurking in every passage and corner and wall for him.
I so hope Doctor Sleep is as good. It will be different, of course.
Danny is grown up, and an alcoholic, reliving his father's pattern (as
families do), without the anger. A small child, a little girl this time,
is part of the book, again, which can only be good. And it's all about
the Shining and how it is used. I want to be scared, the way The Shining scares me, every time I read it.
Back to reading The Shining. I'm just at the part where Jack has threatened to write the history of the Overlook Hotel and been told in no uncertain terms by his ex-alcoholic friend who sits on the board, that he will be fired if he does. Things are about to get much, much worse for the Torrances.