Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Re-Visiting Stephen King's The Shining #1 - Where It Started

So I began picking my way through Stephen King's The Shining for the first time since I was a freshman in high school back in 2005. As a general rule of thumb, I don't do rereads because I don't see a point in them yet. There's so much stuff out there I want to read that I just don't have time to go through past conquests. 

However, The Shining was the first full-length horror novel I actually discovered and is the third full length novel I read of my own free will (the first two being S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders and Carl Deuker On the Devil's Court). I originally picked it up from the high school library and began reading it just because I was bored and because I had to read something during "Drop Everything And Read" time and a story about a guy who goes crazy and tries to kill his whole family seemed like something I could enjoy.

I was a very morbid child. Now I am a very morbid adult. Good thing, some things just don't change. 

However, the less conscious but more vital reason I chose The Shining and not IT or any of the other King books that were in the library was because of the movie. I don't want to say that the movie left a huge impression on me so I felt compelled to pick up the novel because it didn't happen that way. Yes, the movie did leave a huge impression, but I didn't really understand the movie at the time. It looked cool and some of the images I took away from the film were amazing, but I couldn't really grasp the story's concept as a whole at the time. The biggest impression left on me was the scene where Jack Nicholson made out with the dead woman. That and the whole "Little pigs, little pigs, let me in/Here's Johnny" scene. 

So when I picked up the copy of The Shining I did so because A) I wanted to know just what kind of book could inspire that kind of movie, B) I wanted to know what it might be like to read a book that wasn't on a summer reading list (not that I did my summer reading anyway), and C) I wanted to know what Alice Cooper meant when he described The Misfits as looking like something out of a Stephen King novel. I remember Alice saying something like that in an interview and I wanted to know what he meant by that. I didn't know a lot about the music of The Misfits at the time, but they looked pretty ghoulish and I couldn't imagine one of those "book things" being worthy of being mentioned by the great Alice Cooper. 

I mean, who was this Stephen King guy, really? Why did he have so many movies based off of his books? Why was he the master of macabre? And were his books really worth reading even if I had already seen the movies? 

I didn't know then. Had I not been in school and bored out of my mind then I might not have found out. Guess that ole high school diploma thing was good for something, right? 

The irony is not lost on me that I used to poke fun at kids who read all the time. Things like, "Gee, what's so good about books?" or "How can you read all the time?" 

I also used to make fun of kids who liked Dragonball Z. "Gee, how can you watch that stuff? Why do they all have spikey hair? This is silly." 

Isn't karma funny? I also think it's funny that my introduction into the world of books and anime coincided almost perfectly with the complete destruction of whatever social life I had at the time. I mean, I was always kind of a loner outside of school when I was younger, but I remember there was a time when I was not a complete anti-social book-reading *gasp* otaku. Yeah, karma's funny. 

Anyway, The Shining was my first glimpse into the world of Stephen King and written horror. Calling it hugely influential still wouldn't quite do it justice. However, while I remember certain events within the book and know the fundamental difference between the book and movie, I don't quite remember the book itself and the "true characters" that populated the Overlook. 

I think now is the perfect time to re-visit The Shining because I think I can finally appreciate the idea of re-reading a novel. Because this novel was more or less my first. After this one I literally got my hands on every single Stephen King novel I could read. In three years I had read about 95% of his written work before going on to explore other authors. 

I taught myself to really read with Stephen King. Not just to look at the words, but to experience what the words represented. 

I am only starting chapter three right now. I am also working my way through the Haruhi Suzumiya series too. Not quite sure how long this reread will take me with everything else I have going on, but I am sure it will be worth it. Better be or else my memories of this novel might need to be re-examined. 

I will also be reading The Shining on my Kindle this time around. I figure I might as well shake things up a bit. The first time I read this book there wasn't even have a computer in the house, VCR's were still acceptable to watch movies on, and our phones were the type that had cords and connected to the wall. 


  1. I'm about 1/3 of the way into Dr. Sleep and it's getting pretty good. I'm afraid to open any of the threads on SKMB in case of a spoiler but I came across something funny that I wonder how many people noticed. There is a character that makes a Joe Hill reference. Maybe after all of the SK references in NOS4A2, SK is returning the favor.

    The Shining was my first SK book. I read it when I was a senior in high school. There had been a buzz about the book so I picked it up and I wasn't disappointed. After I read The Shining, I read his other 3 books in short order (imagine a world where only 4 SK books existed).

    1. Oh, that'd be torture having to wait for each novel to be released. I'd go insane.