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The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)
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Rating
4.12 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0450040186 (ISBN13: 9780450040184)
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English
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publisher
hodder & stoughton
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The Shining (1980)
The Shining (1980)

About book: QUESTION: Is Stephen King the BEST PURE STORYTELLER of the 20th Century ?ANSWER: Who knows...I haven’t got the slightest wisp of the faintest fragment of a lingering shadow of a clue how to answer that manwich-sized question. However, I do think that in order to have a credible debate on the subject, you would need to include the Prince of the Prolific Page Turner in the argument. That says something to me and it got me thinking that there is a lot to like (and even love) about much of King’s work. Calm down King haters, this is not going to be a slobbering “rah rah” session, but I do think some due is due to Mr. King and his extensive literary production. But, first, a little background. MY EARLY LIFE WITH STEPHEN KING AND READINGLike many, I read a lot of King’s early novels when I was a prepubescent and post pubescent teenager and enjoyed them a lot at the time. I mean they had lots of naughty words and naughty people doing naughty things (sometimes to their naughty bits)...what’s not to love sports fans. During that period I read quite a few Kingers including: The Stand,Firestarter,The Dead Zone,Night Shift,Cujo (OUCH on this epic failure),The Gunslinger,Christine andPet Sematary. However, after the The Drawing of the Three (more on that series below), I drifted away from reading in general as other things began to take precedence in my advancing teen years...namely...girls, college, drinking, parties, drinking with girls at college parties...oh yeah, studying...more drinking, studying while drinking, the beach, more parties, studying (or pretending to study) with girls, more drinking...[censored]...raging parties...OH SHIT HERE COMES LAW SCHOOL...sadness...much less drinking, lots more studying.This period of literary latency lasted about 15 years (though I did still read during this time, but it was very sporatic). Then about 7 years ago, I began hard core reading again like a born again bibliophile. This hot, steamy love of books soon blossomed into an uncontrollable addiction once I joined Goodreads (YES, THAT MAKES ALL OF YOU READING THIS ENABLERS!!!). Well, once I reattached myself to the reading world, my primary King-related focus was completing the Dark Tower series in all its delicious awesomeness. WARNING: Fanboy gusher about to commence. Leaving aside the rest of his catalog, if SK had written nothing but the Dark Tower series, he would be on my shortlist of favorite authors of all time. The Dark Tower is one of my All Time Favorite series and is head, shoulders, navel, twig and berries above anything else King has ever done. In addition to being one of the most well-imagined, compelling and fantastically realized series ever written, I believe its staggering uniqueness places it among the greatest literary achievements of the 20th Century…PERIOD. I know,I know there are some that don’t agree with this and...well...they are just wrong. It happens and I’m sorry for your wrongness.Okay, so after finishing the Dark Tower for the 2nd time (I am currently up to book 4 on my 3rd go around with the Dark Tower Group here on GR), I decided to read some of King’s later works that I missed as well as go back and revisit the stories I read as a teenager (to see how they hold up to the memory of my hormonally controlled younger self). THE SHININGWhich brings us to the Shining which was first up on my re-read list and I am happy to say that I found this more enjoyable this time around. Most of this is due to subtle and nuanced psychological aspects of the novel dealing with alcohlism, obsession and madness were more understandable and relatable at 40 than they were at 15 (go figure). I also found myself thinking of this story as a pretty good microcosm of King’s work (both the good and the bad) as it contained many of King's strength and weaknesses. While I assume most people are familiar with the plot, for those just returning to Earth (welcome back) or just arriving for the first time (NaNu..NaNu), the plot centers around aspiring writer Jack Nicholson Torrance who has accepted the job of winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel (aka…the most EVIL place on Earth). Now, Jackie boy is a charmer. He is a “not so recovering” alcoholic with serious "pole up the poop shoot" anger issues and a MEGATRON-sized problem with authority. Basically, he is your basic angry, violent, anti-social drunk...let's go ahead and call him DADDY. Accompanying Daddy to the OverSPOOK Hotel are his wife, Wendy, and their “clairvoyant” son Danny, whose unique ability is called The Shining. Now Daddy is hoping to use the quiet time at the OverKOOK to help suture his relationship with his family which, oddly enough, has been on the downslide since Daddy broke Danny’s arm during some drunken shenanigans. UH, I don’t think I need to tell you that things do not go well for Daddy or his family once they come under the influence of the Over"Look we just want to kill you" Hotel. I think I will exit the plot summary and leave the rest for you to find on your own. MY THOUGHTSI really liked the story. King does a great job of creating a superb sense of dread with sides of creepy and crawly in this very unique and layered "haunted house" story. For all of King’s less than perfect prose, his occassional LONG "off the plot" tangents and a few endings that leave something to be desired...like a good ending... for all of that SK is an extraordinary story-teller. He is among the best ever at being able to suck a reader into his story and the Shining is certainly a great example of that as I was lost in the narrative from the very beginning. There are few writers who can completing yank me into a story and have me forgeting about eating and sleeping like King did here. For example, I was listening to the audio version of this novel (narrated very well by actor Campbell Scott) and I have rarely had 16+ hours of an audio book sail by as fast as this one did. Now understand, I thought the story was very good but was nowhere near loving it. Yet, I found myself listening to it almost straight through, because King has some demon-spawned story-telling mojo that hypnotizes me. Oddly enough, an hour after I finished the story I was actually somewhat unfulfilled…it’s like the book is some form of literary Chinese food. Regardless, while I was listening I was captivated and this seems to be one of King’s gifts. The ability to create characters that engage the reader (both good and bad) and finding the right emotional buttons to press in order to make the reader CARE about what his characters are thinking and doing. King certainly succeeds here and is in top "page turning" form as he employs characters that are exceptionally well drawn, including the Hotel itself which is one of the best non-human characters ever. Overall, I think King has created a classic, yet unique “haunted house” story while at the same time including an engaging and evocative depiction of obsession, alcoholism and madness. A good, solid story that is worth reading. 4.0 stars.

King describes my relationship with this book very well: "His relationship with his father had been like the unfurling of some flower of beautiful potential, which, when wholly opened, turned out to be blighted inside."My first Stephen King, and my first proper horror novel will be my last. I certainly didn't expect to be bored, but I was. After 338 pages / two thirds of the book, I decided life's too short to waste on books I don't enjoy.If you want sinister snow, I suggest The Castle instead. PotentialThe basic plot (family alone and cut-off in spooky house) may not be original, but it started off quite intriguingly, with more literal demons of alcohol, cycles of abusive parenting (one physical, one emotional), and a lonely only child trying to understand the perplexities adult world. The fact the child, five-year old Danny, can read minds and has hallucinations and premonitions makes the gap between what he sees/knows and understands all the greater. The love a child can feel for an abuser is a strong theme early on: "Jack had loved him for as long as he was able, long after the rest of the family could only hate and fear him", and he's terrified of alienating Danny. Similarly, Wendy's troubled relationship with her jealous mother is echoed in the way she envies Danny's closeness to his father.Jack, is a recovering alcoholic, still struggling to stay on the wagon (I assume he gives in later in the book), and although he's never had any paranormal experiences before, he seems to experience some here. Or maybe it's clinical. What's the difference between paranormal (Danny) and "real" but distorted perception (Jack)?There were also nods to Alice in Wonderland (indirect) and Bluebeard (explicitly). All these ideas could be fascinating and disturbing, but they didn't really go anywhere, especially after things started jumping out at them.Join the DotsOnce the family were alone in the Overlook Hotel, it became increasingly and infuriatingly formulaic: the build up to something scary, then the relief of everyone pulling through with only minor damage, then the next something scary - perhaps a variant on a previous one, or maybe something new - each one just slightly worse than the previous, interspersed with the odd false alarm. The scary things included all the obvious ones and... actually I can't think of any non-obvious ones, but maybe they come in the final third of the book.All this was interspersed by lazy exposition of what should have been interesting backstory: the dirty dealings in the hotel (organised crime, prostitutes, murder) were revealed by a convenient scrap book, and Jack and Wendy's inner struggles with their own parents and with each other are explained like an introductory psychology primer: Jack wondered if the reason he did X was because Y. SHOW, don't tell!LanguageThere were plenty of weak clichés ("His pride was all that was left", a child feeling like a puppet in adult games, Danny being the key to everything - just like the key in a clock) and several weird typos and missing words.On the other hand, I really laughed at this description of a lift/elevator, that "wheezed vibratoriously up the shaft"!REDRUMDanny keeps seeing and hearing this, and he knows it's bad and scary. But it's a Mystery. With a capital M. The revelation of what and why it meant was the final straw for me: such an anti-climax, and it doesn't even make sense in the way it's described.Why I Read This - and Why I (almost certainly) Won't Read King AgainOne of the things I enjoy about GR is the way it has broadened my reading (and deepened it, too). There are many wonderful books I've read purely because friends with similar tastes have raved about them (Stoner in particular). I gradually noticed quite a few friends whose literary tastes overlap with mine rate King quite highly as a writer. I began to question my avoidance of horror and King, and canvassed advice as to which to read. I wanted to enjoy this - to find a new writer and genre to enjoy, and to prove I should have read King sooner. Perhaps that's why I stuck with it as long as I did (that, and residual guilt from childhood indoctrination never to give up on a book). Even Jack, who wanted to write a book about the hotel, skimmed the scrapbook, so that mitigates my guilt a little.I'm still grateful for the advice about reading King. The fact I've confirmed that King isn't for me is useful knowledge, which is an improvement on uninformed prejudice. Quotes* "The bar, where dark shadows sat sampling the tasty waters of oblivion."* "That commonplace sense of history that anyone can feel glancing through the fresh news of ten or twenty years ago."* "She recoiled from his hot eyes and tried on a smile that was a size too small."* "Staring at the door with a kind of drugged avidity."
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Reviews
Rowena
I haven’t read Stephen King in years and The Shining came highly recommended. It’s been quite difficult to convince me to read a book of a movie I’ve already watched and I’ve watched The Shining countless times. However, I am so glad I read this book. This is one of the best psychological horrors I’ve ever read. It definitely goes into more detail than the movie, so much so that I actually had more sympathy for Jack. I could also understand Wendy’s pain better and I became quite the fan of Danny. Stephen King captured very well a young child trying to make sense of his surroundings, and being smart enough to realize that adults are not telling him the full story; I feel like we all felt that way as children. Since Danny has the “shining” it makes him even more melancholy and troubled at such a young age and my heart really went out to him at times. The book actually didn’t scare me much; I think the movie scared me a lot more. I did find it fascinating (and disturbing) to be able to read the thoughts of all three members of the Torrance family, as well as Halloran's, and also to read the descriptions of the hotel, which were very well done.Probably one of the reasons I couldn’t give it 5 stars is because I am not fond of literature or movies using the trope of the “magical Negro” or similar stereotypes. As much as I liked Halloran’s character I couldn’t shake the fact that I’ve seen this kind of character in other places, and it’s getting a bit old. I found this on the internet about said trope: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2004/2...Curious to know how Danny turned out in the sequel.
Janie Johnson
I picked this book up for a buddy read with some friends and I have to say this book truly is amazing. I am just sorry it took me this long to get to it. I felt as though I was totally immersed in this and actually became a part of the story. I could not help myself from turning the pages, and quickly I might add.In this story we have Jack who took a job of looking after the resort hotel, The Overlook. SO he, his wife, and his son Danny pack up to stay at the Overlook Hotel during the winter season. Evil things and events from the past start popping up for Jack causing his slow descent into insanity. Danny himself is having his own struggles dealing with having 'the shine'. Which is causing him to have to fight the forces of evil and deal with his father's changes as well.The characters are so vivid and well developed. The readers literally watch the characters evolve throughout the story and into what King has intended. I know that I will never forget any of them. My favorite character(s) in the book would have to be Danny and Mr. Hallorann, they are great protagonists, but Jack's character was created brilliantly and turns into a pretty good villain by book's end.I have been pretty much desensitized to scary stuff but I gotta say that some parts of the book are pretty disturbing, which is just as good! (view spoiler)[The woman in the bathtub for one is pretty creepy, especially when you think about how it affected Danny. And the hedge animals are enough to make you shriek out loud! Seriously if I saw some hedge animals moving towards me I would probably have heart failure. (hide spoiler)]
Will M.
I tend to stay away from the horror genre, because I get scared too easily. I don't watch horror movies or TV shows, because I don't want to be scared when I'm alone in my room at night. I wasn't planning on reading this, but I decided to man up and do so. Overall, I'm more satisfied than disappointed. Also more fascinated than terrified.The Overlook Hotel is full of mysteries, and Danny Torrance knows about that best. A 5 year old boy who received such a harsh "gift" called "The Shining". Jack, his wife Wendy, and his son Danny had to overcome the horrors of the hotel, as they don't have a choice. If Jack were to quit his job, his family would starve. Not knowing of the horrors of the hotel, Jack decided to become an employee, and the events after that decision proved to be a huge mistake. The hotel itself was creepy already. It being an old hotel clearly depicts that ghosts lurk around in there. If given the choice, I wouldn't stay in an old hotel. Anything old should give anyone the creeps. Jack Torrance clearly didn't think it through when he accepted the job in that creepy place. The main premise of the novel gave me the creeps already, and I'd just like to say that I'll never look at any hotel the same way ever again. I'm not sure how horror novels work, as this is my first legit one, but I wasn't terrified while reading this. I was terrified after. The aftermath of the novel is making me scared to be alone in the dark, of elevators, 217, and of course hotels. I now believe all the acclaims that Stephen King is the master of horror. Aside from King's writing style, I also love his character development. I feel a great attachment for each one of them. I want to know what's going to happen to everyone, and such harsh fates makes me feel devastated. I really liked Jack, and the ending made me slightly sad. Not going to go into details as I would be spoiling people. Wendy was a little bit annoying though to be honest. I find her indecisive and contradicting. Danny, on the other hand was as awesome as his father Jack. King clearly made unforgettable characters. Might have to read the sequel soon .This is not a perfect novel. Despite the fact that it was a page turner, I believe that it doesn't deserve a 5-star rating, from me. I liked The Long Walk and Needful Things way better. There were a lot of dull moments. Especially near the end when the main characters weren't the ones talking. Clearly the positive aspects of this novel outweigh the negatives, but none of the events were as mind blowing for me to give this a 5. I'd still recommend this to anyone though, as it was a great novel overall. Read this if you're craving for a good horror novel, because this will give you the creeps after. Believe me, it comes after reading, and not during [my experience].
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