Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Shining by Stephen King

Scary; in a completely different way than the books
we've been reviewing this month.
So.....anyone want to talk about the weather?  Anyone? Yeah, me neither.  Hurricane Sandy was comparatively kind to us in Maryland, though my in-laws are struggling with her wrath in New Jersey. I just want to say that I'm very grateful that we have advance warning, emergency service providers, and sturdy structures here.  It's not like that everywhere in the world, and I'm grateful that I didn't have to experience a hurricane any other way than I just did.  I'm sending positive thoughts and prayers for quick recovery to parts of the East Coast that are just now able to assess the damage.

Enough about Frankenstorm, let's talk about scary books.  You may have noticed that I'm an official fan of Stephen King.  I think he's a master at building a mood and scaring you with the mundane to then later terrify you with the other-worldly.  I've been known to read some of Mr. King's stories with only one eye open (those of us not capable of reading braille really can't read with both of our eyes closed) while curling up into a tight ball and squealing.  I'm not too proud to admit that.  Of course, I haven't yet thrown my book in the freezer either.  And if you don't know what I'm referencing, watch the clip below.  (Lobster, I know you need no explanation.)  In honor of All Hallow's Eve, I present to you my all-time scariest Stephen King book.  All of his stories are scary in some way; like pee-a-little-in-your-pants scary and even I-didn't-realize-I-was-clenching-every-muscle-in-my-body-and-my-fingernails-may-never-come-out-of-my-palms scary.  Some of them will haunt you and some of them will ruin your dreams for a couple of nights.  That's what makes them fabulous. The Shining was Stephen King's third novel and first hardback bestseller.  It was adapted into a movie and later a mini-series.  I have read it twice, seen the movie four times, and watched the mini-series.  I know this story.  There are no more surprises in it for me.  Yet it still makes me want to turn on all the lights and make the dog stay indefinitely at my side.

Yep.  He looks crazy.
I'm sure you saw my pick for the culmination of our scary books month coming from a mile away.  And there's a reason for it.  It's mad scary.  And don't just watch the movie, cause that's not even the half of it.  From the animated topiary to stealthily stalking fire extinguishers and ballrooms filled with spirits and madness from years past, this book made me re-evaluate my feelings about elevators and vacations.  The back story: A struggling writer, Jack, gets hired as a care taker at a mountain resort for the winter.  The resort closes when the weather no longer allows access to the rest of civilization, and someone must remain there in order to keep an eye on things and dump the massive boiler system that must run to keep the pipes (and any inhabitants) from freezing.  So Jack packs up his wife Wendy and son Danny, and all their different forms of baggage (Jack is a recovering alcoholic with a tendency to rage: he was scared into sobriety after he broke Danny's arm in a drunken rage.  Jack took the job as a way to re-connect with his family and finish his book.  Then there's Danny who happens to be telepathic, though his parents are unaware of that.) and heads to Colorado.

When the family arrives, Danny realizes that the hotel itself, The Overlook, has a spirit of its own and it's not a good kind of spirit.  The chef there sees that Danny has a rare ability that he shares, and he takes Danny aside and explains to him that the hotel can only show him "pictures" that aren't dangerous.  Halloran, the chef, is leaving for his winter gig in Florida but Danny will be able to communicate with him through "the shining" that they share.  Things quickly go sideways for the family.  Danny realizes that the hotel is trying to use him as a way to feed its need for death and destruction.  Danny is strong enough to ward off the increasingly aggressive and spooky power plays (party hats how up in elevators, animal topiary chase him through the hedgerow maze, some kids who haven't actually been alive for years show up in the know, all in a day of haunting and possession), so The Overlook changes its focus.

Even the original cover is creepy!
Jack has been struggling with several things.  The book is not going well.  The insane amount of snow has forced the family indoors and cabin fever is setting in.  Jack is trying hard to stay calm but he has inherited a great deal of anger and it's about to split him at the seams.  The hotel knows a good opportunity and makes some things happen.  Though the hotel was void of alcohol when the Torrance's arrived, Jack mysteriously finds a fully-stocked bar in a ballroom that he didn't know was there.  Not in the mood to over analyze, Jack starts drinking away his troubles.  He is so successful that he doesn't question it when he notices that he's no longer drinking alone.  The bartender keeps the drinks flowing and the sympathetic ear open: Of course, Jack is angry. His wife is completely unappreciative and his son is annoying.  As a matter of fact, that sort of thing happens in the hotel all the time.  And there are things Jack can do about it.  The hotel understands. The hotel can help if Jack will let it.

Turns out that another caretaker had the same sort of issue one winter.  That caretaker murdered his family and then took his own life, so that caretaker never really went anywhere.  And now that other caretaker is happy to pour drinks for Jack Torrance and let him in on all the things he should be doing to take care of his familial problems.  First, Jack should disable communications (goodbye radio).  Then take out the only way down the mountain (snowcat gets dismantled).  Make sure the boiler gets dumped (we would hate for the hotel to blow up since it's being so nice and all).  Then explain his frustrations to his wife and kid.  With a mallet.  Or a knife.  Whatever gets them to listen.  Jack is all too eager to put this particular plan in motion.

When Danny realizes that his dad really isn't his dad anymore, he sends out a distress signal to Halloran.  Then he goes about doing his best to keep his mom and himself out of Jack's way as jack slips further and further into madness.  Then finally Jack snaps.  Halloran shows up only to be grievously wounded by Jack.  He goes after Wendy.  She manages to lock him in the walk-in pantry and run away.  Unfortunately, The Overlook doesn't give up easily and Jack is freed from the pantry by none other than the ghost of Delbert Grady, friendly bartender and murderous caretaker.  Jack manages to wound and Wendy and goes after Danny who appeals to any part of his father that may still be present.  Jack then wounds himself in an effort to give Danny time to get away from him.  Danny reminds Jack that the boiler needs to be dumped; the pressure has been building all this time.  Jack goes down to safe the hotel (essentially trying to save himself as he is now completely possessed by The Overlook) and Wendy, Danny, and Halloran escape to the snowcat Halloran used to get to the hotel.  Jack tries to dump the pressure in the boiler system but he's too late.  The boiler explodes, taking Jack and all the other spirits who were loathe to leave the hotel with it.

OK.  So now I have cold sweats just writing about this.  It's that scary.  And I read a twitter rumor that there will be a sequel(esque) that visits an adult Danny Torrance.  The possibilities!  Did he inherit his father's predilection to drink? Or his quick and vicious temper?  Is he haunted by what happened?  Does he still have the shining?  I hope the rumor is true.  I hope I get to meet Danny again.  And if I do, I hope there's room in my freezer.  Happy Halloween!

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  1. I didn't even have to scroll down to know the video was attached.

  2. I didn't even have to scroll down to know the video was attached.