“Misery” by Stephen King

As time goes on, anyone who subscribes to this blog is going to discover two things. I make fantastic bagels. And I take my horror seriously.

It’s very easy to say that the work of Stephen King is mainstream, or even “too” mainstream. However, I would maintain that the act of calling anything mainstream has become massively mainstream and thus referring to anything as mainstream has a tendency to cause a space/time paradox, sucking that person into an alternative universe where pineapples are our masters.

Mainstream or not, Stephen King is a talented author. He does his research on any topic he chooses to write about (as can often be found in the opening pages of his novels), and he conveys images, actions and emotions in a truly unique way.
Misery is an excellent testament to this, most notably in the way in which he conveys the unhinged and slowly unhinging mind of his antagonist and protagonist respectively.

The plot:
Paul Sheldon is a celebrated author, particularly well known for his chick-lit novels, which centre on the character of Misery herself. Having just finished his latest novel, he is travelling to his publisher when a violent snowstorm hits. His car skids and crashes to the side of the road. At death’s door, he is saved by the jolly Annie Wilkes. She is prone to saying things like “Cock-a-doody” and “You dirty bird!”. Within the confines of her own home, she nurses him back to health, explaining that she is his number one fan. However, with each passing day, Paul begins to notice that Annie is not as sane as she may appear on the surface. And that is when the proverbial shit begins to hit the fan.

King successfully creates two horrific presences in this novel. Annie Wilkes is an overwhelming and grotesque presence, detailed meticulously through the eyes of Paul Sheldon himself. After all, when you’re lying in bed for weeks on end, you’re going to take in these details! These horrific descriptions are only overshadowed by her ruthless actions in the latter parts of the novel, in which she begins to torture Paul.

The second monster of the novel is the creeping insanity that continuously threatens to overwhelm the protagonist throughout the course of the narrative. In a clever move, King shifts the perspective to that of another character only once in the whole novel, for a mere two pages towards the conclusion, to allow the reader to fully appreciate how close to madness the protagonist has sank in comparison to others.

If there is a flaw to Misery, it is a sense of imbalance. The events which unfold are terrible, true, but as the novel progresses, the reader, like Sheldon himself, begins to feel oddly numb to them (somewhat similar to a Justin Bieber concert, one can assume). This is most apparent after a particularly gruesome act halfway through the novel, which threatens to overshadow all that proceeds it. Luckily, King manages to recuperate beautifully in the final act, which portrays a haunting examination of the damaged human psyche, which will most likey stay with the reader for weeks.

Awful Rating: 8/10

“Annie has put you through a lot, hasn’t she? Too much! Mean old Annie…” – Annie Wilkes

SHAMELESSLY AWFUL FACTS:

  • This book actually caused me to have a nightmare. There was a bag of manga books by my bed which I kept looking at, which eventually turned into Annie Wilkes. In my sleep, she kept throwing things like lamps and soup bowls at me. This dream eventually melded with another in which I was cowboy, but was so horrific that I woke up
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