Saturday, 1 October 2016

How Not to be a Fan (Misery by Stephen King)

"'I didn't kill her!' he screamed." - Stephen King, Misery, page 39

The story of a woman who finds her favourite author in a crashed car at the side of the road and responds in a way that most sensible people wouldn't even consider: she ABDUCTS HIM, IMPRISONS HIM, and FORCES HIM TO BRING A FICTIONAL CHARACTER BACK TO LIFE.

For the record, this is not an appropriate reaction to a fictional character dying. If you find someone by the side of the road, please, please, please take them to a hospital. 

Paul Sheldon is a bestselling novelist. He's rich, twice divorced, and just a tiny bit pretentious. Having killed off Misery Chastain (who sounds very much like she's from the Jane Eyre era of female characters), he now plans to move onto "real" writing. Annie Wilkes is his biggest fan. Without spoiling anything, there are many many things that make her utterly evil, but the narration at times makes it sound like her biggest crime is being "mannish." Seriously. Of all her traits, this is the one that is focused on the most. For context, this book was written in 1987.  

Since Paul cannot leave, the novel is set almost entirely at Annie's house. I sometimes felt like the plot was stalling, or crawling along. Horror readers should know that this gory horror rather than psychological horror. I do prefer psychological horror, but the gore was well done and written in a way that made me feel literally sick to my stomach.

The writing is excellent. It's third person, but, with the exception of a few chapters, it reads like first person. We're deep inside Paul's head, so we see exactly how his current circumstances are affecting the novel he's writing for Annie. His inner turmoil over popular vs "real" writing is also interesting.

This is the only Stephen King novel I've read, and I would definitely read another. 

Have you read Misery?