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Customer Review

on June 27, 2006
Warning: some spoilers ahead

I'm sure it's been said by countless other reviewers, but this book does in fact provide a far more nuanced and compelling portrait of the main character Jack Torrence than the famous and unforgettable 1980 Stanley Kubrick screen adapatation would suggest.

I like what King said in his own recent comments on the book-what made the book truly interesting was the idea that Torrence goes insane from a combination of factors-not just a haunted hotel but his own inner demons. That is suggested in the movie, but my impression is that in the movie Nicholson plays Torrence as someone already on the edge and there is no implication that he had deep love for his family, also no mention of his own abuse at his father's hands. It's hard to feel that he suddenly went from loving Shelley Duvall to hating her-he seems to have hatred toward her in the beginning of the movie. The movie works, of course, and has become so iconic it is hard to read this book without thinking of it, but it is very different from the book, enough so to be someone else's story.

This is a major problem with the movie and what makes the book so much more effective, moving, and tragic-in the book Torrence truly loves his wife and son and that makes his descent into madness more frightening and depressing.

This is really King's gift, to tie horror to recognizable reality and family life, to express some of our own deepest fears through terrifying metaphors, and he does it very well here. It's also, like most of his books, very exciting and a good page turner.

I especially appreciated his character Dick, the African American cook, for some reason in the movie this character was far less important or appealing. In the book he has real warmth, compassion, intelligence, and a sense of humor-and he doesn't die, unlike in the movie (I wanted to point that out, that's why I warned of spoilers). I think that's important-he's a survivor, like Danny.

His story makes the entire novel more interesting and I'm not sure why they made him sort of an idiot in the movie although I could speculate. I'm sure this isn't true of the 1997 Stephen Weber/Rebecca DeMornay version, since it is said to be closer to King's original vision, but I have yet to see that. Another positive point of the book is that they give more background to the ghosts, whereas in the Kubrick movie they just show up (e.g., naked elderly woman in tub). It's scarier if we know their stories, and King tells us them.

It was a good read, but if I had some criticism it would be that it dragged on at times and sometimes got too verbose. King is a very talented writer and very interesting to read but he does tend to veer off into certain overly verbose passages that make my eyes glaze over. But it's a 600+ page book, and about 400 pages are great, so who are we to complain? Definitely worth the read even if you've seen the movie, is the point.
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