Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shining in a post-Overlook world

Book: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Published: 2013 (Scribner)
Pages: 528

My willpower is getting better by almost-imperceptible increments, y'all. Which means I waited a whole seven months before I bought and read Stephen King's new book. I mean it's still in hardback, so you can't REALLY tell I waited, and this brings up a slightly personal tangent that I would like to explore.

So I do have what I call a reading "schedule," the second word of which I'm putting in quotes because it's fairly loose within its own confines. Meaning I've made lists of what I want to read and the completest part of my brain insists on finishing these lists before moving on but doesn't care in what order I read these 200+ books. The books I've stacked up from bookstore credit count in this too.

But I go off-list so much - "Oh, it's Friday," "Oh, THAT was a terrible day," "Oh, man, I am walkin' on sunshine!" "Ugh, but this one is SO DULL" -  that I'm wondering if I wouldn't be happier just chucking the whole thing. There are always going to be way too many good books to catch up with all of them, and to be completely weird and honest and the tiniest bit of OCD, that stresses me out. I stress out about a lot of unnecessary shit like that and sometimes it makes me freak out and I'm learning how to not worry so goddamn much about the future and just focus on being cool with the happiness I'm getting from the moment and such and really, some of my best reads I've found spontaneously.

But I also really like making lists, especially about things I like to anticipate (food and books being the primary two).

It's a struggle to find which approach keeps me from making reading a chore, because if reading ever doesn't make me happy I will have nothing.

Right now, I still get a lot of joy and only a tinge of guilt at paying $32 to read Uncle Stevie and continue my tradition of buying a book from each new city I visit (hi, San Antonio!). And this is a good one, guys. This is worth it.


Have you read The Shining? If not, shame on you and go do it, but you won't be confused reading this one first. Which is really my one major problem with this book - we don't need the prologue. Chop it off and you still have more than plenty enough allusions and flashbacks within the story to know what motivates Danny Torrence through his drunken spiral, rediscovery of his shining, and teaming up with a powerful girl to defeat a cult of old people who are torturing the shining out of kids to drink it and stay young. Plus without the prologue, we don't need to hear about Dick Halloran's creepy-ass grandpa. If that was supposed to be foreshadowing, it wasn't hooked up right.

But there's lots of good here! The story is the clearest I can remember of any of King's later works, and the villains ooze just the right amount of menace mixed with an interesting dollop of human uncertainty. The leader lady has this top hat that is maybe the source of her leadership powers? But it's alluring and details like that lend a mysteriousness that hints at a chaotic universe that leans toward evil rather than beating one over the head with it.

And even before he manages to clean up his act as a grownup, Danny finds the perfect job: he's a hospice worker who helps patients die. His shining ushers them out into this deep peaceful sleep, and every time he described that I wanted to find a signup list and secure a spot for 50 or 60 years down the road because that's exactly how I want to go out.

So he and this fellow psychic girl find each other and can do this thing where they get into each other's heads to misdirect the bad guys' radar, so she's the one with better shining (mostly because she's younger - it fades) but she gets to knock that lady out (why's it gotta be a bad BITCH, Uncle Stevie? Huh?) while Danny's the one who's actually there and in bodily danger. The planning, buildup, and final fight were all practical (as practical as you can get when based on psychic powers, anyway) and not based on wild leaps of logic, and I appreciated that a lot because it made the conclusion well-earned.

It made sense, and it made me happy, and it's staying on my bookshelf.

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