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The Exorcist Mass Market Paperback – May 28, 2013
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When originally published in 1971, The Exorcist became not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels ever written. (When the author adapted his book to the screen two years later, it then became one of the most terrifying movies ever made.) The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It's up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate. Purposefully raw and profane, this novel still has the extraordinary ability to literally shock us into forgetting that it is "just a story." The Exorcist remains a truly unforgettable reading experience. Blatty published a sequel, Legion, in 1983. --Stanley Wiater
""The Exorcist" is as superior to most books of its kind as an Einstein equation is to an accountant's column of figures.""--New York Times Book Review""Wonderfully exciting.""--Newsweek""Read the book! It's an experience you will never forget.""--St. Louis Post-Dispatch"
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Top Customer Reviews
1. I have never seen the movie and have no idea how the novel compares with the film.
2. Do not read this book before bed, unless you're the kind of person that enjoys sleeping with the lights on.
The story opens with Father Merrin, who is working on an archaeological dig in Iraq and is overcome with a feeling of foreboding as he discovers a statue of the wind demon, Pazuzu. Miles away, in Georgetown, Washington DC, Chris MacNeil is finishing up the filming of her next movie with director Burke Dennings before going home to her daughter, Regan. A normal life in the day of an actress except for the Jesuit priest watching the performance; Father Damien Karras. And it quickly becomes clear, that everything is not normal.
Chris's Regan is developing behavioral problems; waking up terrified during the night and spending her days talking to imaginary friend, Captain Howdy through a Ouija Board. Father Karras, who is new to the area and an expert in Black Masses with a degree in psychiatry, is questioning his faith after the death of his mother. After his church is vandalized, his superiors suspect that he may have done it himself and have him transferred to a less stressful job. As Regan's problems increase from overactive imagination to violent outbursts and psychokinetic phenomena, Chris seeks out medical help. The doctors have plenty of theories, it could be physical, it could be psychological, but they can't prove anything. As if Chris and Father Karras didn't have enough problems, Detective Kinderman won't stop asking questions nobody wants to answer.
I think this story was perfectly terrifying. Chris Macneil, is facing down a problem she isn't equipped to handle. So many doctors are willing to write off her daughter's behavior as mental illness... A mental illness they aren't sure how to name or treat. Chris is surrounded by people who want to help, but at the same time she's fighting all alone. It's her who has to care for Regan, no matter how repulsive her daughter gets, and it's her who believes that Regan's problem is supernatural not psychological. And Regan isn't just a little creepy, she's downright sleep-with-the-lights-on-disturbing. Incredibly strong, violent, angry, murderous, verbally and physically obscene, disgusting, and a whole bunch of other adjectives not normally associated with a little girl. Regan isn't just a parent's worst nightmare; she's everyone's worst nightmare.
I love the elements in this story; it's more than Good vs Evil. It's a little bit of Science vs Religion and Believers vs Non-Believers and mostly a giant test of faith. Chris Macneil is an atheist; she doesn't believe in God but her daughter's affliction is enough to make her believe in the Devil. Father Karras is believes in God, even though its harder some days than others, but he can't bring himself to believe that Regan is truly possessed. Bringing an important questions to the light: How can you fight something you don't believe exists? How can you truly believe in God/Satan, if you don't believe in his counterpart? And how can Regan be saved, if you can't identify what's wrong in the first place?
The film is 100% faithful to the book, a perfect and much more terrifying experience. One thing I noticed this time around in the book is the constant attempts at humor that Blatty includes. The mother, Chris, is often making little jokes and asides, even the midst of some horrific events. This really didn't read well to me and took me "out" of the story since the bad puns, etc just slowed things down. There is quite of bit of Catholic theology tossed around which doesn't elevate the story the way Blatty intended. Also, this is the "original" version of the book, not the rewrite he did a few years ago.
Overall, a great read, but if you've seen the film, you have the better experience of the two.
Now I am well into my thirties. I've watched the movie dozens of times over the years. I've read the book a few times & I just recently picked it up again. Times have changed a lot since then, my life has changed a lot, I've seen real horrors, but "The Exorcist" still scare the ever-loving $h!t out of me.
When I was in my teens, I thought they frightened me because I was raised Catholic & heard stories of the devil & the Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac. But that was my teens. I don't think that any longer.
What it is that is so frightening, I think, are the characters. The characters are real, the likeable priest, the troubled priest, the serious priest, the friendly detective, the good mother, they are all touched by what can only be described as pure evil, an entity of absolute filth & evil. It's enduring & horrific because, through it all, you see friendships develop, you see the touch of absolute evil & see good come out of it & believe it or not, that is the most unsettling & realistic thing that I have ever seen in horror fiction.
That touch of humanity in the face of absolute evil is the most frightening thing that I have ever encountered. It brings the horror home in a way that Stephen King can only dream of.
You really have to read it to understand, & by all means, don't take my word for it, find out for yourself.