My family headed to Puerto Vallarta for a week-long vacation. While there, I was planning to work a bit on my novel; I printed it out, hole punched it, and stuck it in a binder so I could work on it without my computer. And I did – I got a few hours of writing in. However, I ran into a major problem when I decided to start reading a new book. I’d never had a chance to read Stephen King before, so I picked one of his most famous books, and I started reading.
First off, why read The Shining first? Well, I’ve always wanted to see the movie, but honestly, horror movies terrify me. Same with psychological thrillers. I absolutely love the stories, but I hate watching them on screen – something about the music and the visualized gore just totally turn me off. Confession: I enjoy reading horror movie plots on wikipedia and imdb.com because I can feel like I’ve watched the movie without actually subjecting myself to it. I’ve “seen” a lot of movies this way. It helps me feel more informed, and saves me a lot of time (and nightmares).
But I’m way off track. Anyway, I read The Shining. Once I picked it up, it was impossible to put down. Except for food. Anything can wait for food. I found the characters intriguing; King has a marvelous way of getting inside each character’s head. The italics of the direct thoughts threw me off a bit – as a writer, I had a hard time figuring out how King decided what was the narrator seeing into the character’s mind (regular type) and what the character was explicitly thinking (italics). This is something I’m struggling with myself as I write Zombie Love, so it was really cool to get to see a famous writer succeed in what I’m attempting to accomplish.
By far, my favorite part of the novel is the conclusion, which is apparently quite different from the movie.* I appreciated the internal struggle of the main character Jack and how King describes his slow descent into madness. The internal monologue allowed the reader to see Jack’s logic and how it slowly mutated into something … unsavory (to put it mildly). By the end of the novel, Jack is thinking rationally, but it’s not a normal rationality: it’s warped. You can understand why Jack does what he does without approving of it. It was excellently written and a great inspiration for me. I cannot believe I’ve never read Stephen King books before, but now I think I’m hooked.
* The second I finished the novel, I went online to try to figure out what was different between the movie and the book, and it turns out A WHOLE LOT IS DIFFERENT. In fact, I might go as far as to say that they are nearly two completely different stories. Stanley Kubrick created some memorable scenes that even someone like me, who has never seen the movie, know well, but they simply aren’t present in the book. Having read the synopsis, I’m leaning towards declaring the book the winner, but I can’t make that call without having seen the movie. I guess I’ve got something to add to my watch list!