Customer Review

108 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of King's First 20 Books, January 8, 2003
This review is from: The Shining (Mass Market Paperback)
Stephen King has been called a great many things. The Master of Horror Fiction. Fascinating. Frightening. Hypnotic. Demonic. Tremendous. Spellbinding. His own bio blurb refers to himself as the "world's best selling novelist." One critic has even gone so far as to speculate that Stephen King is our era's Charles Dickens. Anyone who has read King would probably agree he's a writer with a tremendous range, a genius-level vivid imagination, and an understanding of human emotions both simple and yet rarely matched.

The Shining is probably his best known novel and of the first twenty or so novels that he wrote, and it seems to me the one he wrote at his happiest. He wrote part of it at the Stanley Hotel near Estes Park, Colorado when he was young enough not to be a commodity and old enough to know what the hell he was doing. Compared to The Dead Zone, Cujo, Pet Semetary, Misery it just seems like a book he enjoyed writing more than any of the other early works. The irony is that The Shining has become synonomous with horror fiction.

And that's the way "The Shining" works on you. Jack Torrance is a flawed man with a drinking problem, a violent temper, but a sense of humor and a genuine love for his wife and child. He's a guy we want to root for! And that's why his descent into madness is so powerful. (and so chilling) To some degree, we all can relate to him.

Room 217. The Overlook. Grady. The hedge animals. The isolation. And the shining. All of these devices work so well together in the novel that it's hard not to picture Stephen King writing this thing at points -- a maniacal captain aboard a hotel trip into hell. The guy just gets a kick out'a writing and as simple as that sounds it's actually kind of rare in this world.

Enough can't be said of the creative power King exhibits in The Shining. I'm sure scholars have already begun studying the "role of Wendy" as a modern woman and the "psychological trauma of Danny" etc. etc., and scholarly work on "The Shining" will probably continue long after we've all kicked off this earth. That's the world we live in.

The novel is not without its flaws. At times, Danny thinks more like a thirty-year-old man writing as a five-year-old boy than a de facto five-year-old boy. At times, The Shining is melodramatic. The character Wendy might have been a more fully realized character. But for a "flawed" novel, it is -- to me -- the most thoroughly READable flawed novel I've ever read.

I highly recommend "The Shining" to damn near anyone who enjoys reading and, of course, I hope this review is helpful to you.

Thanks so much.

Stacey Cochran
Author of CLAWS available for 80 cents
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