In September, I suggested a reading order for the extended universe of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a series I loved, but hadn't read any of since Volume 7: The Dark Tower came out in 2004. I realized that I missed the characters from the series, and wondered if the reading order I suggested would really hold someone's interest all the way through. I scoured some local bookstores, and then the internet for the hardcovers of the books, and prepared for my quest to read a Super Long series of books.
If you read the original Masochist's Guide To The Dark Tower post, you might notice that The Shining isn't even on the list. So the chronology is Even Longer. And if that's not enough, you may know that there is a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, and that's Also going to end up on this list...but probably not for a while. This is partially due to a conversation with Zeke Russell about one of the minor character's impact on The Dark Tower, and partially due to the fact that Jake Chambers, whom we met in the last entry, has The Shining. They don't call it that...yet...but that's what it is, so it's time to get more acquainted with thee power of one of the major players of The Dark Tower, as well as meet one of the minor characters in the flesh.
Remember in middle or high school when you had to read a book that had been made into a movie? How you could get The Cliff Notes and watch the movie and fake your way through 80% of the class discussion? That shit won't fly here.
Creepy twin girls? Not in the book. Elevator full of blood? Not in the book. All Work And No Play Make Homer Go Something Something? Not in the book. Hedge maze? Nope. Jack Nicholson axing his way through the bathroom door? Not so much.
If you've seen the movie, but not read the book, you may wonder at the wasps in the above picture. Read the book.
The Shining is not the Oh Shit Jack Nicholson Is A Scary Trucker Fucker Horror Story you might expect. In fact, the best parts of the book focus on a young couple doing their best to stay together when divorce seems like the healthiest option. It's about last chances, and staying together for a child. It's about how even when you conquer your biggest failings, they will always be a part of your life that you can't forget or forgive yourself for. It's about being human. And not in that Watch These Poor Humans Get Slaughtered way that you expect from horror.
I read this, originally, when I was in high school, and had zero memory of how much of the story takes place before they even get to the hotel. I didn't remember any part of the book taking place outside the hotel, at all. And while the crux of the book is being isolated in a hotel in winter, there are quite a few scenes where you, the reader, are let loose from the hotel, assured that there still exists a world outside the frozen wasteland of The Overlook.
I devoured the beginning of this book, and began to be less and less invested as The Overlook overtook the narrative. I didn't want to watch the supernatural unravel the family, as they were doing such good job unraveling on their own. But when the slow unraveling gave way to The Great Unraveling, I was back to devouring it.
--The first time I read this, I was on break from school, and my family was staying at a hotel in Maine. It added a nice extra creepy layer to the experience, even though we were far from the only people in the hotel, and my father doesn't know how to play roque.
--I also saw the movie for the first time in high school, but don't remember it too clearly. As it was part of a Nicholsonfest where we also watched One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and The Witches Of Eastwick.
--The only time I rewatched the movie was in 2009, when I was heavily tripping. Going into the movie, I was afraid of having some horrible mental breakdown during the more horrific scenes, but I ended up spending the entirety of the movie mesmerized by how cool the carpets were in The Overlook Hotel. I didn't interact with the plot at all.
--I read just about all of the 679 pages of this book on the trip back and forth to work, or at night while cooking. That brings the total of pages read for this project to 2,570. That's over Two Bibles, and this journey is way less likely to turn you into a preachy jerkface.