I’ve written before of my love of books. I’ve mentioned my gateway novel (Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King) into adult literature. Being able to read King novels is what, in my mind, constituted having made it to the Big Show. Once I had gotten through Eyes, Mom let me read anything I wanted. I went straight for my favorite book of all time, It. We’ve covered this before.
Even the Easter Bunny (him?)self knew of my love of books. Each year, tucked in amongst the fake grass and jelly beans would be a new book! I also discovered that Mr. Bunny had a weird sense of gift-giving. One year, behind the Cadbury Eggs, was a copy of The Shining, by Stephen King. Wow! I hadn’t seen the movie, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I remember heading to bed early each night so I could maximize my time reading about Danny Torrance and his folks at the Overlook Hotel. As with most of King’s work, the language paints the pictures in your head. It’s less the monsters or vampires or killers that are the scariest, and more the feelings he forces upon you. I think the reason his books don’t always translate into 90 minute films is that it’s too “in your head.” It’s not what the characters say that makes a King novel great, it’s what they’re thinking. That doesn’t shine through (forgive the pun) in celluloid.
Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that The Shining was the only book I’ve ever read where I HAD to read another book at the same time. I’m known for having two or three books going at once, and right now’s no exception. But when I was young, I read The Shining for a while before bed, then a funnier book for a while longer before I’d dare turn out the lights. It’s the equivalent of turning your lights off downstairs, then making a mad dash to the safety of your bedroom light upstairs. I needed a buffer zone. It was They Shoot Canoes Too, Don’t They? by Patrick F. McManus. He’s the guy who used to write the inside-the-cover page on Field and Stream. Goofy stories about a goofy guy doing goofy stuff in the woods. Just safe enough to help you work up the courage to turn off your bedside lamp.
Stephen King is blessing us with a follow up to The Shining. He calls it Dr. Sleep. I don’t want to get into the plot, because frankly I’m not too familiar with it. I want to let King take me where he wants me to go. Dr. Sleep hits shelves on Sept 24th. One week left! I couldn’t find my old paperback copy of The Shining, so I bought a new one on Amazon.
I’d suggest you do the same. It’s kind of like when the Harry Potter books premiere in the theaters, and you have to go re-read that issue of the series. You know, to make sure you’re up to speed. I’ve been wicked busy lately, so I’m only a third of the way through it, but I know I’ll finish on time. I’m picking up so much more subtle stuff this go-round than I did last read. Remember, I was just young. I’m not one to re-read books, but I confess to re-reading Carrie a month back or so in preparation for the new movie. I further confess to re-watching the (terrible) movie version from the 70s featuring John Travolta and Sissy Spacek. I hope Chloe Grace Moretz does a better job. Already have a date with Mom for opening night on that one!
What’s your favorite King book? Have you ever read The Shining? Did you do it at night? Did you wet the bed?