Stephen King is… really something, isn’t he? What that “something” might be, I can’t decide. I wrote a “Real Talk” segment a while ago about how one of my coworkers gave me the password to her Audible.com account, and how it is usually my saving grace in times of high annoyance in my office quarters. What I didn’t tell you was that she is a HUGE Stephen King fan and so my listening options (outside of everything he has ever written) are limited. This is the one and only reason I have consumed so many of King’s works, as I don’t really care for his writing style. However, I do listen to Audiobooks during work four days a week (Fridays I listen to anything with a banjo or Paul Simon!) so I’ve been forced to broaden my horizons and let King into my life. I’ve always heard The Shining is one of his best works and is rated among the best Thriller Novels, so I decided to give it a try.
Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic, formerly abusive husband and father, and recently fired writer who is offered a new job as the Winter undertaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Jack Torrance pretty much sucks. Most of the story is told from his perspective, so I think we, as readers, are meant to develop some sort of sympathy for his unfortunate life, but I found that hard to do. I don’t doubt that this was King’s intent, since Jack is given many bad characteristics and rather few likable ones. His wife, Wendy, is an annoying nag, but understandably so, considering the fact that she’s married to an unemployed beater with anger issues and constant yearnings for booze. Danny, their son, is about five and has an ability to “shine,” or know things are going to happen before they do. They all caravan up to the Overlook Hotel and Jack starts his new job as the undertaker, since the snow makes the hotel completely inaccessible in the Wintertime and the family of three will be alone and stranded for several months. There are hints to the Torrance family that there are things “not quite right” about the hotel, but they ignore them in favor of a paycheck. I won’t spoil anything, but things start to happen to all the family members and situations get dicey and extremely intense.
I’m a big fan of Thriller novels, or anything within the Horror/Gothic realm, so the subject matter isn’t the slightest bit troublesome to me. In that respect, the story did not let me down. Some parts were a little silly (like the ones involving the topiary animals), but overall it had a great level of suspense and creepiness and ultimately reached a climax that ought to be hard to top, in terms of Horror Novels. So the content is good to go; it’s his writing style that I don’t prefer. I can handle profanity, vulgarity, graphic descriptions, etc. peppered throughout the story so that they accentuate the events and characters and add real emphasis to several important scenes. King, however, puts WAY too much pepper in the pot! There was name-calling and accusations flying around the likes of which I was sorely unprepared to hear while submitting invoices in a cubicle at 11 a.m. on a Thursday. I was totally shocked! Not by the atrocities going down in that hotel; not by the extreme graphic content; not by the fear-induced paranoia I felt at the time. I was shocked that someone just used five different curse words sixteen different times in one murderous rampaging soliloquy.Let me be clear: cursing does not offend me. What offends me is that King (seemingly in most of his works) thinks that pelting me with curse words aplenty is the best, scratch that, ONLY way to convey extreme anger, fear, madness and possession. I’d like to think that a really good writer would be able to render me absolutely useless with fear while employing far less expletives. So overall, I’d suggest that you read this. It’s a great Thriller work and it’ll give you a good scare. But be prepared to hear a lot of vulgarity and profanity. Or maybe just see the movie. I hear it’s great and probably is less eyebrow-raising.
Let me just say, this is not a vendetta I have against King. I’m not calling him a bad writer. Millions of copies sold of any of his books would prove me wrong if I was. I think King knows how to write a good book and knows when to utilize profanity and graphic descriptions to suit his cause. He displays this perfectly in Misery. That book is a friggin’ masterpiece of absolute terror. I just wish King would take a hint from himself and simmer it down a little now and then. Overkill is a literary sin that kills many of King’s works for me.
Has anyone else read The Shining? Any of King’s works? What do you all think about utilizing profanity? I’d love to hear from you and stay tuned for many more reviews coming soon!