Monday, June 15, 2009

Prongs - Ninth Review - The Shining

'Just like 7-11. We may not always be doing business, but we are always open' -Boondock Saints
Sorry folks, looks like you are stuck with us.
It has been quite some time has it not? We have missed all of you dearly, but most of all we have missed our dear dear blog.
It's not you blog, it's us... we weren't ready for a serious commitment.... we have changed, matured, gotten those other silly sites out of our system and are ready to settle down for the long haul. Please take us back? Please?!
Without getting into all the mundane details of moving, mono, and manic-Mondays (finals are finally over)... we have emerged from the swamps of this school-term refreshed and ready to review! So once again, we
apologize sincerely to our loyal reads for the lack of posts. Our hope is that even though we have been on a short hiatus, you will return to the Padfoot and Prongs that you once loved so dearly, ready as always to talk about BOOOKKS.
And to kick off what is sure to be a jammed pack summer we have a review for you! Look for many more updates this week and beyond, since we don't plan on walking out on you again any time soon. Pinky promise.

"We all shine on." The Beatles (The inspirational line behind the title)
The Shining
By Stephen King

Disclaimer: For quite some time now I have had a love/hate relationship with Stephen King. I have to give it to him; when Stephen King is ‘on’ he is ‘ON’ . But there are other times when it is as if someone has just flipped his creative switch, and what comes from that is far cry from good-quality writing. With the amount of work that he has produced in a lifetime, I can not blame him for having a few ‘off’ works, but honestly some of it is more than just ‘off’… it is down right bad. It is only my love of a few choice works by him that keeps me coming back for more. Just when I think I am ready to give up on him as a writer, I come across another gem that I had overlooked that reminds me why I even return to him in the first place. This time, it just happened to be The Shining.

Truly a master of horror, Stephen king has comprised a novel that shows the total transformation of a loving yet flawed father into a deranged shell of his former self. To King, the ability to ‘Shine’ is the supernatural capability of people and even buildings to read the minds of others, and in Jack’s case, posses them. Most are familiar with the story line, but the novel centers on Jack Torrance and his family who have moved into The Overlook hotel, with the responsibility of keeping it running during the 5 winter months when the building becomes snowed into seclusion. Unbeknownst to Jack and his family, the Overlook has a violent history of gangsters, adulterers, murder, and these memories echo within every empty hall of the hotel. Jack’s young son Danny posses the strange ability to ‘shine’ , which ultimately is the driving force behind all of the horrific events that happen to the family within the desolateness of the hotel.
"A stupid man is more prone to cabin fever just as he's more prone to shoot someone over a card game or commit a spur-of-the-moment robbery. He gets bored. When the snow comes and there's nothing to do but watch TV or play solitaire and cheat when he can't get all the aces out. Nothing to do but ***** at his wife and nag at the kids and drink."
What truly turns this novel from just your average horror story into a literary classic is the slow climatic degradation of Jack’s sanity, which makes the audience question: ‘If it could happen to him, why not me?’. Jack is haunted by the embarrassing alcohol driven mistakes of his past, and his ghosts follow him to The Overlook, where they are given free reign to tear him down slowly. While the movie focuses more on how unstable and unpredictable Jack becomes, the novel never lets you forget for a moment what will happen at the end. From the beginning Jack’s son Danny has constant premonitions about the final climatic scene where Jack has finally become possessed by the hotel, and the slow build up is absolutely electric. The foreshadow of Danny’s dreams clings to every inch of the jungle print wall paper, the crystal chandeliers, and the strangely odd hedge animals… until the moment when the dreams become a gruesome reality.

King shows off his immense talent to understand the human element of fear through his use of detail and internal character reflection, weaving together a story that is both complicated and terrifying. While the movie has become something of a cult classic, it is important to not forget the roots that these cinematic doppelgangers come from. Trust me, this is one book you will want to read with all the lights on.

-mischief managed-


  1. Great post! and good to hear from you! "The Shining" def hits a little close to home for me, as cabin fever is a way of life where I am (though right now it's light for 23 hours of the day). Meh, some people wield axes and chase their family around mansions -- I read books (about wielding axes, chasing family through mansion halls). I see "The Sun Also Rises" is on your reading list -- can't wait for the review. Hope y'all aren't getting into to too much mischief this summer.

    PS: When you say "shine," do you mean like ESP? or just good old intuition? As an archetypalist (I just made that word up) I would like to hear more about what it means to "Shine." Provocative.

  2. Thanks so much glad you enjoyed it. It is hard to really explain just how truly terrifying this book is with out writing my own novel of a post. As long as you aren't living in a building that is trying to posses you, than the worst thing that would happen from cabin fever might be thinking the books have come to life.

    As King describes it, Shining is not completely ESP or premonitions. I believe it is just an overall 'psychic' innateness about them. For example Danny can read 'colors' of people, and often if an emotion is strong enough, can hear thoughts. He also has very vivid 'dreams' where he will pass out and see images about the future. However, another character in the novel only hear others minor characters could only 'see' things that had happened in the past, such as the murdered ghosts at the hotel. However, according to King, most people that 'Shine' can sense when someone else does as well. So I guess in summary it could be explained as a heightened sense of psychic abilities.

  3. Interesting. I've only watched the movie which doesn't go into detail about it (I don't think). Taken as pure metaphor, I wonder if it could be the "shining" of a light into the dark terrifying places of the mind -- perhaps where Jack's personal demons may exist? Or maybe it's a hyperbolic expression of a child's recollection of an abusive and alcoholic father? It boggles the mind and ensares the senses -- I've always only thought of it as a scary-ass movie.

  4. Oh for sure the novel really extends all of the factors that have made the movie such a hit and then some. As I touched on earlier the real fear comes in with the slow break down of Jack, but what really drives the novel is Danny's premonitions. The entire novel you are seeing constant flashes of the climax (which is quite different than the movie) and you are basically sitting in terror waiting for the dreams to come through. Jack is such an interesting character in his own right as you see the internal struggle he faces between the ghosts of his past, and the ghosts of the hotel. He is very consciousness at times that there is some external force that is pushing a lot of this decisions, but many of his previous insecruties keep him from doing what is right.... to leave the hotel.

    As far as 'Shining' I think term fits in quite well especially when you take into account that most people that can 'shine' can sense or even see when others around them do. I like to think of it as almost a supernatural glow that can only be recognized by others that share the same ability.

  5. You awoke my curiosity again, since I've read many times that this was a case of a film being better than the book...

  6. Reallllyyyy? Oh man I would love to hear someone that thinks that. They are both good in separate ways but I really think as far as true terror goes, the book wins hands down. I was jumping out of my seat while reading, while some parts of the Shining just made me groan.

  7. Thanks for your great review! This book is on the top of my "King" list. It is definitely the proverbial "head trip" to experience.

    Hey young dude, seriously. In my opinion the book is definitely the better of the two. Just as in most, but not all cases, of books that have been adapted to the big screen. I have only found a few movies that were better than the book.(Girl Interrupted) Or more often movie that's "as good as" or "damn near it" the book. (Any Harry Potter) So I suggest, why listen to what others have to say about it, and judge for yourself. You won't be disappointed:)

  8. Thanks for the blog roll add!!

  9. Glad you agree babycakes. I have been talking about this book constantly since I finished, I never realized that so many people had such strong attachment to not only it but the movie. I thought I was going to get stabbed in Blockbuster when I carried on a 20 min. conversation with the employee about why the book was ultimately better. As far as King goes, I would have to say this has def been added to my Pro list for him, which is almost equal to my Con list.

    And God wasn't Girl Interrupted fantastic as a movie? I felt the same way with Fight Club. I am not sure if it was because I saw the movie first (which is adding to my theory that is not book vs movie, but instead 'first experience' vs 'next experience') but I just liked the movie so much more.

  10. Pertaining to seeing movies before reading the book...I have a confession to make. I saw The Chamber of Secrets before I ever even considered reading any of the first five books. It was actually in college, after closing the local pub down, when a guy whose acquaintance I had just made was really trying to persuade me to wactch CoS. I reluctantly acquiesced, figuring I would just pass out. I didn't, and watched it again the next morning.

    So I probably never would have read Harry Potter if not for the second movie. So to agree with your conclusion in the original post, movies are important, but books are indispensable. After all, screenplays are literature, though we don't study them as we study Shakespeare's dramas. If one has seen an episode of "Entourage," you know that the process of making a movie starts with the screenplay. I digress I know.

  11. Welcome back! I'm glad to see you back in action and ready to blog again.

    I agree with you 100% about King -- when he is ON he is ON but when he is off, ick. I read this ages ago but I'm sure it scared the crap out of me ... as all good King does. I'm still haunted by some of his short stories to this day. And "It" "The Stand" and "Bag of Bones" rank up there as some of his best stuff for me. And have you ever read his book "On Writing"? Definitely check it out -- it is so well done and he gets real and honest about the process of writing. Good stuff.

  12. @Hagrid. That is a pretty interesting story. 2 was always one of my favorites of the series, so I am not surprised that it got you watching it. Also that is an interesting point about how we do not study screen plans. In my linguistics class I was constantly bringing in examples of dialogue from The Office or even family guy since some times the dialogue can actually be extremely clever on an intellectual scale, not just a comical one.

    @ Jenners. Yes it is good to be back. God right when he is on, he is soooooo fantastic? I just don't understand that the same man could write Shawshank Redemption and The Cell. I does it happen!??! I have not checked out his On Writing yet but I have been temped to a few times. I have heard mixed reviews but I would love to know more about his process. Maybe it will shed a bit of light on his flip floppy writing style.

  13. I just wanted to pop by and say thanks for stopping by my blog and encouraging me during Bloggiesta. And I love your huge pile of books on the left-side of your blog!

  14. Hey welcome back. Hate it when stupid life gets in the way of reading and blogging!

  15. I am a huge fan of Stephen King's works, but if I were to list my favourites, in order, The Shining would come somewhere near the bottom. Don't get me wrong, it's a great book, and I really enjoyed it, but I just expected a little more from it. I saw the film before reading the book, and I loathed it, so it was no surprise that I went into the book with a rather unenthusiastic mind. I thoroughly enjoyed it, however. Also, there is a great TV adaptation of The Shining from 1997, written by Stephen King himself. I much prefer it to the movie (and maybe even the book, dare I say it?).


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