Book: The Shining
Author: Steven King
Published: First published 1977
Publisher: Anchor Books, read on the Kindle
Pages: 659
I had been thinking of reading a Steven King book for some time, something that was new to me. Yes, new. At first I considered Misery (seen it as a film) or The Outsider (his latest book). In the end I settled on The Shining. I have indeed seen the Kubrick film a few times. Years back. I did watch it again now – after I finished the book.
Why did it take me some time to settle on the book and actually read a King book – a book by the king of horror? Simply put – I was afraid. Not afraid that I would loose my sleep, but afraid that I might be disappointed. What if he was not as good as they say? But to my delight, I fell in love with the writing on the first page of text. Yet turning the page, I found out I was in love with the writing of E. A. Poe.
Steven King’s own writing – it turned out – is different in style. It is more clear than beautiful. But then one can argue that clear is also beautiful. What is good about his writing is that King has vision, is able to create tension, makes you wish to continue reading and he definitely has imagination. His voice is distinct. The reader can also relax and know that she/he will be taken through the story.
Having seen the film it is impossible to have forgotten Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. Shelley Duvall’s image as Wendy was also in my mind. Both Wendy and Jack are portrayed differently in the book -Wendy is for example blond. The events are also quite dissimilar to the book. The book shows us things they like to do as well as shares their problems. The book builds up a more full picture of the relationship and shows the attachment between the family members. Their history deepens the picture in the book. The sexual relationship with Jack and Wendy is also important in the book, while there is none of that in the film. The tension in the film builds up really far too quickly, whilst King carefully lets it gather. To my surprise I ended up preferring the book, even if the ending is more dramatic in the film. What is needed, is a film that combined the best of both.
The Shining is a rather long book. This was not a problem. I was happy to read and wished to return to it when I had to leave it. Steven King spends a great deal of time building tension. Great! This was the best part of the book for me. The end I found a little too long. But maybe it is good to know that also famous writers have some boring bits. And could there also be mistakes in year-in-year-out-read-books? I saw ‘cussed’, but reading it as ‘cursed’ made sense to me. The Shining is a psychological horror book. It is a classic as such. It is also a book basing its descriptions and solutions on the supernatural. There seems, however, to be some connections to real events. Prior to writing The Shining, the Kings had stayed in an old hotel and in a room that had ghosts. Also was there not an author, that had been looking after a hotel and it had been too much for his mind?
Who would I recommend The Shining to? I would recommend it for a reader who has no skeletons in his/her cupboards, no violent parents, no domineering parent, no drinking problems either self or within one’s family and certainly no unemployment baggage. OR the reader needs to be able to face one’s own demons.
Stars: 4/5


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