Tag Archives: Misery

And Many More…

kingStephen King turned seventy years old today.a3c5ede143cc4dda46bc7d2e615e2fff--stephen-king-books-stephen-kings


Yeah, we all grow up; we all get older. One day we all die. We shouldn’t ever be taken by surprise by these things, yet somehow there’s always one that catches us off guard. I still think of him as the guy on the left… although he’s now closer to this guy on the right.

Stephen King has been a part of my life for over twenty-five years – his words, his ideas. He has influenced me as a writer much more than I would care to admit. Hell, for a while all I was doing was a bad impression of him – at least, that’s how I saw it.

I feel like I know him just a little bit, even though I don’t actually know him at all. Never met him; never will. And that right there is the genius of a great writer. King’s ability to make an ordinary situation, extraordinary, and his knack for building characters that feel so real, you would not be surprised to turn the corner and bump into them, is something I have admired from afar for many years. That’s the power of imagination. Being able to harness that and making it a reality – even a fictional one – is worthy of applause.

My relationship with King has had its ups and downs over the years, for sure. He has written some stuff that has not done much for me – I’m not the kind of narrow-minded fan who can’t admit that. The Talisman. Dreamcatcher. And as much as it pains me to say, even most of The Dark Tower series. None of those set my world on fire. But when he gets it right, which he does more often than not, his words have the ability to soar. The Eyes of the Dragon. Misery. Needful Things. And many others. Classics.

Go read them.

Happy birthday, sir.


Friday Fiction Fixes #8…

Misery by Stephen King – 1987


The cover that stole my attention in 1991.

I have read dozens of King novels over the years, but Misery was the first one to catch my attention, when I was fifteen. The popular Hollywood interpretation with Kathy Bates’ Oscar winning lead performance had been released the year before, so the story was still quite fresh at the time, and that was probably the catalyst that took me to the library.

Misery is one of King’s most well-respected stories, and for good reason.¬† It’s claustrophobic, atmospheric writing at its finest, and a very simple idea, told extremely well. Paul Sheldon is a best-selling romance author who crashes his car in a snowstorm, only to be rescued by his self-proclaimed ‘number one fan’ – the soon to be revealed – psychotic Annie Wilkes. She dislikes that Paul has killed off Misery Chastain in his latest entry to her favourite series of novels, and forces him to write an entirely new story – eradicating what she has just read – for her eyes only.

The infamous hobbling scene from the movie, where Annie breaks both his ankles with a sledgehammer, plays out a little differently in the text… where she chops off one of his feet with an axe instead. It’s more violent, bloody and immediately visceral – not that one way is better, or would be more pleasant. I guess it’s like choosing between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

The book was so good that I went on to read another eighteen King novels in a row before I even so much as looked at another author. My writing style in my young adult years was certainly influenced  Рand probably hindered to an extent Рby my desire to read so much of his stuff, and I sometimes wonder how things would have changed had I decided to vary my reading habits at such an impressionable age.

Many years later, and Misery still ranks very highly in his oeuvre, and if you wanted to make a case for it being the best thing he’s done, I wouldn’t put up much of an argument.