On Monday, I started two new books and finished both today; one was a library hold that finally became available after weeks of waiting, and the other I decided to tackle via audio book; one of them I truly enjoyed, while the other I really disliked. All the bad reviews and literary disappointments lately have left me begging for “fresh air,” some light at the end of this tunnel of pure crap; something that bites as well as it barks. I want a macho-man of a book that will accept my challenge (“I hereby challenge you, Mr. Book, to not be a waste of time.”) and really, truly deliver. So, for now, I’ll dwell on the great work and save the other, the lit let-down, for later.
As I’ve said in the past, my lack of access to Pandora combined with my office-mate’s obsession with Stephen King means that I have read at lot of King’s works, all based on necessity, not fondness for King. I’ve only truly loved one of his works, Misery, but now I can add The Green Mile to my “enjoyable Stephen King works” list.
For some reason, I lived under the impression that this book (and movie adaptation) was about either football, or maybe wartime, neither of which intrigue me even slightly, so I was overjoyed to find out that it is actually about a group of guards at a Georgia Penitentiary who oversee a handful of killers during their final days leading up to an electric chair execution. That sounded highly interesting to me, so I delved right into the (apparently, though I “read” the audio book version) 500+ page novel focused mainly on the chief guard, Paul Edgecombe, and his fascination with John Coffey, a massive but gentle black inmate sentenced for the rape and murder of two young girls.
Let me say this: I pledge my allegiance to books that make readers challenge how they think and how they feel about passionate subjects. I feel pretty darn passionately that rape and murder are horrific, so those who commit those crimes must be horrible people. King presents a number of challenging characters in The Green Mile who made me reevaluate my understanding of what constitutes a horrible person; don’t worry, murder and rape are still at the top of the list. Readers face known killers who show more decency and relatability and likability than so-called “good guys,” or non-murderers who are vile and loathsome to the core. The story line of The Green Mile was fascinating from beginning to end, so King seized my aforementioned challenge and I applaud him for his triumph, but my favorite part about reading it, or rather hearing it, was the wide range of emotions I felt throughout. Anger and disgust, which began as directed towards the inmates, slowly but surely changed to pity and fondness, while the disgust joined with hatred and were unleashed upon the guard, Percy Wetmore. I laughed often, I contemplated much, I was surprised constantly, repulsed now and then, and even cried in the end. King had never before succeeded in making me cry, but this novel pulled it out of me and what else could I do? I was happily at the mercy of this literary masterpiece.
I prefer hard copies in each and every way possible, and I fully intend to go buy a copy of The Green Mile for many future readings, but I highly encourage everyone to try this one on audio book! The range of characters is so broad that the utilization of something as simple as different voices for different characters enhances the experience like you wouldn’t believe. I appreciated it more for hearing it, but regardless of the method of intake, I implore you to get this one under your belt. It is well worth the time