Thursday, 17 May 2018

This Post is Covered in Pig's Blood (Carrie by Stephen King)

"Jesus watches from the wall.
But his face is cold as stone.
And if he loves me - As she tells me
Why do I feel so all alone?" - Stephen King, Carrie, page 71
Anyone who doesn't know the plot of Carrie has probably only just arrived on earth. So, first of all, hello. We come in peace. I promise none of us have telekinetic powers. For you aliens in the audience, the story goes like this...

Kids bully girl.

Kids dump pig's blood on girl.

Girl makes kids regret it.

It's your quintessential beware the quiet ones lest they snap story, and Carrie snaps epically

To be honest though, I'm not sure how far she really needed to be pushed. Don't get me wrong, Carrie's not an entirely unsympathetic character - you'd have to be heartless not to feel even a little bit sorry for the bullied schoolgirl with the abusive fundamentalist mother - but she struck me as borderline sociopatic from the beginning. One of the first things we see her doing with her powers is knocking a boy (who was yelling at her) off his bike. She thinks frequently about making the people around her pay. As someone who was a bullied schoolgirl? That certainly wasn't my normal. One of the things that makes her such a brilliant villain is her intelligence. The damage she does is multiplied by her thinking ahead and taking away many of the facilities that would have allowed the people of Chamberlain to respond effectively to her rampage.

Most of the story centres around one of two locations. The first is Carrie's home, where her mother espouses the evils of the female anatomy and reguarly locks her daughter in the closet in a sort of forced confessional. At the beginning of the book, Carrie starts her first period and thinks she's dying. She's seventeen. Her mother claims it's because she's sinned. The second is the high school. Carrie's period starts in the showers here. Her classmates respond by throwing sanitary products at her. This second setting takes a depressingly realistic look at experiences kids have in education. Not only is Carrie bullied, laughed at for her ignorance, and mocked about a perfectly normal bodily function, but other characters (most notably Sue and Chris) deal with sexual and romantic pressures. Despite this, the novel manages to avert the idea of teenagers being selfish, psychopathic monsters through the character of Sue. Plagued by regret for her part in Carrie's torment, Sue spends the rest of the novel trying to make up for it. 

The format of Carrie is rather unusual. Articles and extracts from books are sprinkled throughout the story. We know from the beginning that there is a "Carrie White incident". I liked the style - it was different.

This novel was written over forty years ago and certain aspects of it have not aged well, but it's a quick read with a fascinating main character. I'm glad I finally got round to picking it up.

 Have any good horror recs?