Showing posts with label Fantasy > Paranormal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy > Paranormal. Show all posts

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 02 - Doctor Sleep


4.1  ·  Rating details ·  118,908 Ratings  ·  13,819 Reviews
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King download or read it online for free here
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the "steam" that children with the "shining" produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes "Doctor Sleep."

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

“FEAR stands for fuck everything and run.”

“There came a time when you realized that moving on was pointless. That you took yourself with you wherever you went.”

“The good thing about being old, is you don’t have to worry about dying young.”

“Life was a wheel, its only job was to turn, and it always came back to where it started.”



Reviews


Get ready. If I can make just one recommendation: whether you're a longtime King fan or fairly new to his stuff, it wouldn't be the worst thing to read The Shining before you get your hands on Doctor Sleep. 
Seasoned fans know that the movie, while engrossing in its own right, is very different in many ways, and doesn't even begin to plumb the psychological depths that the book does. You could read and love Doctor Sleep without doing so, but I think people's experiences of this sequel will only be enriched by first checking out one of the mothers of all horror novels.
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A sequel, huh? I didn't feel much for Danny when I was going through The Shining since Jack Torrance pretty much had me by the balls, but I guess - this being a Stephen King book - I can give it a try.

Oh, who am I kidding?
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There is a boy (now a man) a girl, a band of baddies with a charismatic leader, a coalition of the willing, battles to be fought, supernatural elements and magical powers. Stephen King was at this long before Harry Potter lived under the stairs. He has a preternatural (not to say supernatural) talent for writing kids, and can keep you turning pages, losing sleep, and getting back late to work from your lunch breaks.

We will presume for the purposes of this review that you have read, or at least seen one version of The Shining. If you have not, read no further, as there are details here that would be considered spoilerish were they to appear in a review of that book. And if you have not read The Shining you should probably do so before taking on Doctor Sleep, a sequel. Ok, everyone here has read The Shining, yes? All right, but we are using the honor system here, and do not want to ruin the fun of reading that one for anyone. So, as long as you’re sure…

At the end of The Shining, three people survive the carnage, Danny Torrance, a five year old with a special gift, Wendy Torrance, Danny’s mother and newly widowed wife of the late Jack Torrance, and Dick Halloran, an employee of The Overlook and possessor of a gift like Danny’s, one that allowed him to hear Danny’s psychic 911 call and return from his home in Florida in time to do something about it. What happened next?
King does not typically do sequels, if one does not count books that are part of a planned series, but

    Every now and then somebody would ask, ‘Whatever happened to Danny?’ I used to joke around and say, ‘He married Charlie McGee from Firestarter and they had these amazing kids!’ But I did sort of wonder about it. – (from EW)

One of the central features of The Shining was Jack’s Torrance’s battle with alcoholism. As with the real world, King’s fictional realm notes that alcoholism runs in families. And one of the criticisms of The Shining was that the possibility of Jack considering getting some help from AA is never even raised. If King has ever considered that to have been an oversight, I have not seen that interview. But it is clear that he has given the matter some thought.

    Jack Torrance never tries Alcoholics Anonymous. That is never even mentioned in "The Shining." He has what they call white-knuckle sobriety. He's doing it all by himself. So, I wondered what it would be like to see Danny first as an alcoholic, and then see him in AA. (from an NPR Interview)

It gives nothing away to let you know that Danny is a true Torrance. Not only does he self-medicate to quiet the terrors that still haunt him, he is far from the best person he can be.

    I knew if I did this sequel I’d have to try to put together some of the same elements, but at the same time I didn’t want to make it too similar. I didn’t want to make Danny a grown up with kids of his own, and try to replicate that whole losing-your-temper-because-you’re-drunk thing. But I did think to myself: ‘Not only alcoholism can be a family disease, but rage can be a family disease.’ You find that the guys who abuse their children were abused themselves as kids. That certainly fit Danny as I knew him. – from EW

All SK novels require a baddie, or a set of them. No disappointment here. King has again succeeded in taking the ordinary and making it horrifying.

    Driving back and forth from Maine to Florida, which I do twice a year, I’m always seeing all these recreational vehicles — the bounders in the Winnebagos. I always think to myself, ‘Who is in those things?’ You pass them a thousand times at rest stops. They’re always the ones wearing the shirts that say ‘God Does Not Deduct From a Lifespan Time Spent Fishing.’ They’re always lined up at the McDonald’s, slowing the whole line down. And I always thought to myself, ‘There’s something really sinister about those people because they’re so unobtrusive, yet so pervasive.’ I just wanted to use that. It would be the perfect way to travel around America and be unobtrusive if you were really some sort of awful creature. – from EW

This wandering band call themselves The True Knot. They feed on the essence of those gifted with the sort of talent people like Danny possess. It provides them with extraordinary longevity, but as with their Transylvanian counterparts, the need is ongoing and the supply is limited. Like right-wing politicians they are more than happy to gorge on the pain of others and are shown here feasting on the spirits set adrift on 9/11. The usual condiments for this substance they call steam will not do. The taste and benefit is enhanced, however, if their victims endure extreme and prolonged torture. Does Ted Cruz drive a Winnebago? King gives the members Damon Runyon-esque names, like Crow Daddy, Steamboat Steve and Tommy the Truck.

And what of our young heroine? Abra is born with a shining of prodigious proportions. (btw, the name Abra was inspired by Abra Bacon, a character in East of Eden) She manages to send out a signal even when she is newly arrived. She’s a good kid, despite scaring her parents on occasion with tricks like making all the silverware in the kitchen take to the air, or causing the odd earthquake when she does a mental Bruce (or if you prefer, David) Banner. Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. Bad-ass teen girl power fuh shoo-uh. But, just as Danny needed Dick Hallorann and Tony, Abra needs help as well. That she and Danny will team up is a foregone conclusion.

As for Danny, the shining never left him, despite his attempts to wipe it out with spirits of a different sort. But he finds the help he needs and manages to put his talent to good use. He works in a hospice, the Helen Rivington House, in Frazier, NH, easing the transition for those near death, with the assistance of a resident feline, and earning himself the name Doctor Sleep, which also serves to remind us of what his parents called him.

    …It is this moment of transition that Doctor Sleep deals with and the idea, like so many of King's, came from an incidental story in a newspaper. This one was about "a cat in a hospice that knows when people are going to die. He would go into that patient's room and curl up next to them. And I thought, that's a good advertisement for death, for the emissary of death. I thought, 'I can make Dan the human equivalent of that cat, and call him Doctor Sleep.' There was the book." – from an interview in The Guardian

King has a bit of fun, naming the cat Azzie, short for Azreel, the archangel of death. Cute.

What else do you need, really? Dark vs light, colorful baddies vs our everyman and everygirl. And that is indeed enough. But it is not all that King uses. He gives us a look at how people can really help people overcome, or at least handle their problems. When asked, in the NPR interview, whether his AA depictions were from personal experience, King says that the second part of AA stands for Anonymous, so he declined to offer a yes or no, however

    You could say, having read these two books and knowing that I was a very heavy drinker at the time that I wrote "The Shining," and I haven't had a drink in about 25 years now - you could draw certain conclusions from that…I've done a lot of personal research in these subjects. - from NPR interview

AA figures very large in this story, is central really. And the wisdom one can find in AA permeates the novel, from the importance of recognizing that we need help from others, to accepting our past and dealing with it, a very strong, serious element.

King sets the time of the events by referring to external realities, like who the president is, calls on contemporary cultural references, such as a mention of the Sons of Anarchy and a Hank Wiliams Jr song. He also mentions a variety of other writers in his travels, some approvingly, (John Sandford, George Seferis, Bernard Malamud, Bill Wilson) some not so much (the authors of the Twilight and Hunger Games series, and Dean Koontz and Lisa Gardner, although he may merely be playing with the latter two). He also drops in an Easter egg reference to Salem’s Lot and make two references (that I caught anyway) to his son, Joe’s, imagined world from Joe’s book, NOS4A2.

It has been my experience with reading Stephen King that his conclusions sometimes offer a poor partner to the journey one takes in reaching them. That is much less the case here. The ending is not an alien spider disguised as Tim Curry with bad fashion sense or alien young playing with humans in a ham-fisted manner. And the journey is indeed fun. But I had some gripes. King gives Dick Hallorann a cameo here, which was fine, and the strongest of those. Tony returns for a look-see but goes alarmingly quiet at crucial moments. We could have used a lot more about Tony other than the weak explanation that is offered near the end. If the True Knot are so bad-ass, how come there are so few of them? There is an explanation offered of prey-predator stability of numbers, but I found that unpersuasive. And why the hell introduce. This is one that actively irked.

Sequels present a danger. One of the things that is stimulating about any book, any story is newness. That is why most sequels are not as popular as their predecessors. It is hard to avoid a been-there-done-that problem when working atop existing material. The next story in line is unlikely to retain the sparkle, the shine of what went before. Given the constraints, Doctor Sleep fares better than most as a follow-on. There is enough distance in the story from the events of the past, and little enough overlap with those characters that the story seems fresh. When events from The Shining are mentioned, they do inform the current action and do not distract much. In fact there could have been more of that. So, in that way, this is a very nice addition. There is another element involved. Any event, any activity, is a product of the thing itself and of the perspective from which we view or participate in it. I read The Shining many years ago. I was an adult then, in my late twenties, and remember it as a VERY SCARY story. I have not come across much in horror lit that is still scary in that way, in the several decades since. I will not have any nights (on in my case days) of lost sleep because of the images King has proferred. But then, I am getting on, and am looking at those scary things with aging eyes. Someone younger (which would be almost all of you reading this) might find them far more frightening than I did.

So while Doctor Sleep might not cause much by way of lost rest, it is good, mainstream Stephen King and thus, hardly a snooze. The Doctor of Horror is in. Wake up!
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Once upon a time, there was a girl. She liked to read, but was at a crossroads between being too old for childish books, and a bit too young for cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. The girl loved scary movies and all things horror and wondered if maybe there were things written like that. She asked the librarian, who handed her a book. The girl ran home and closed herself up in her room.
 She sat down and started to read a book called Carrie, by an author named Stephen King. She devoured that book and went on to read every single book by her new favorite author, including those under the name Richard Bachman. When those ran out, she explored different authors like Koontz, Saul, Cook, and Crichton, just to name a few. So many doors were opened and so many journeys taken, worlds explored, over many years. Maybe I'll get back to this story a bit later.
When I heard that Doctor Sleep was coming out I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. I rarely do this, but for King I tend to make exceptions. Finally, the other day my Kindle got a present.
I'll admit, for the first 15% of the book it was a bit slow for me. I started to panic, envisioning Under the Dome, which sits on my kindle shelf. A book that I've tried to read twice, without success. I didn't want Doctor Sleep, which features one of my favorite characters, to fall by the wayside and have the same fate. Luckily it picked up and I was trapped in the pages.
Doctor Sleep is said to be The Shining 2. While some parts of this may be true, for the most part it's a standalone. You do not have to read The Shining to read this. Read it anyway because it's fuckawesome. There is no spooktastic Overlook Hotel, it has long ago perished. The only real connection between the two books is Dan, our main. Dan, who was a five year old scared little boy in The Shining, now a man. A man who is a fucked up alcoholic hot mess.
The villains aren't ghosts of a haunted hotel, but beings (like vampires, I guess), who kill children who Shine. Sucking up their essence as they die.
I won't say more about the story. I'm not here to give a full blown play by play, because in essence, then why would you need to read the book?
I can say this. If someone who had never read Stephen King, asked me if this should be their first book, I would say no. I would send them the direction of Cujo or Pet Sematary, or Carrie, Salem's Lot. This is a quieter Stephen King. It is not a horror story. There's no hiding under the blankets or checking the drain in the bathroom, looking for a creepy clown named Pennywise. The bad guys aren't scary. More like washed up. Shadows of what a bad guy should be. Stephen King knows how to write villains. Randall Flagg, Pennywise, Cujo, a baby named Gage, even a prison guard named Percy. I repeat, this is really not a horror story.
For those of us who have read The Shining, what a joy it was to see some characters we loved from that book. I wish Tony had more of a story, I'm always curious about him. Perhaps a book for Tony, Mr. King?
For me, reading Dan again was like meeting an old friend after many years. He was forever frozen as a boy in my mind. Now he has come full circle. When you finish a book, normally that's it. Time goes on, you read new books, get involved with new characters. They, in turn, become frozen. What a gift to be able to revisit a character after all this time.
My final thoughts. I highly recommend this book. If you're holding out because you haven't read The Shining, don't. Doctor Sleep is well written, snarky at times as only Mr. King can be, and will suck you in. I even cried once or twice, yes, from The Master of Horror.
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A very good Stephen King book.

I went to see a concert last year featuring Joan Jett, Cheap Trick and Heart. Promoters called it the Hall of Fame tour because all three bands were in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a great show, we had a blast. I got the impression that any of these talented professionals could put on a great show in their sleep. They’ve been doing it so long that they knew their craft as well as how to win over a crowd.

Stephen King is also a wily old master craftsman who knows how to grab a reader and hold him entranced for hundreds of pages. Hell, he’s practically a genre unto himself now, leaving behind the Horror and Fantasy schools for a stage just for him. And while I would agree that he, like Joan Jett and Ann Wilson, could put on a great show without trying very hard, I think he did put some extra effort into Doctor Sleep, his 2013 sequel to his 1980 masterpiece The Shining.

While this takes off from where The Shining left off and then goes on to tell its own story, this is in many ways an amalgam of many of his best stories and returns to many of the themes that have made him one of our most successful writers. I noticed elements of Pet Sematary, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone. Besides trying to scare the heeby-jeebies out of us, King explores themes of family, life and death, extra sensory perceptions, and the demons that haunt us, paranormal and mundane.

King, a recovering alcoholic, wrote The Shining as an alcoholic and Doctor Sleep speaks from this mature, embattled perspective. Sadly, but fittingly, little Danny Torrance becomes too much like his father and has succumbed to his inherited drinking problem. King shares with us, no doubt from much of his own experience, how Alcoholics Anonymous helps Dan Torrance survive and thrive in sobriety, but also shares Dan’s rock bottom and how this hidden secret gnaws at Torrance as much as the ghosts form the Overlook Hotel. In this way, King provides an allegory for secrets held and like so much of his writing, finds the horrific without delving too far into fantasy. We are our own worst enemies – and nightmares.

Years after the tragedy at the Overlook, Dan Torrance is making his way from childhood to alcoholic despondency to an edgy and fragile temperance. Like most recovering alcoholics, he takes his life one step at a time, and one day at a time. And his gift of shining remains. Using his special abilities to help dying patients in a hospice, he has come to the sobriquet of Doctor Sleep. It is here that Dan discovers a young girl who makes his shining look dim by comparison; as his is a flashlight, hers is a light house. Dan also discovers an antagonistic group who feed on human suffering, and the suffering of those with the shining is their most cherished delicacy.

Rose the Hat. Leading this group of psychic vampires is one of King’s most devilish and engaging characters. From Northern Ireland (centuries ago – drawing on the vampire parallel) Rose was once Irish Rose, but now in her leadership role, she is Rose the Hat, appearing with a cocked to one side old top hat. King has made a good living on making bad guys scary and evil and in Rose he has given us one of his most dire, giving old Barlow a run for his money.

So I raise my lighter to you, Mr. King, great show.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130549-doctor-sleep?ac=1

The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 01 - The Shining


4.18  ·  Rating details ·  840,916 Ratings  ·  15,341 Reviews
Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
The Shining by Stephen King  download or read it online for free
The Shining by Stephen King

“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”

“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”

“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

“The world's a hard place, Danny. It don't care. It don't hate you and me, but it don't love us, either. Terrible things happen in the world, and they're things no one can explain. Good people die in bad, painful ways and leave the folks that love them all alone. Sometimes it seems like it's only the bad people who stay healthy and prosper. The world don't love you, but your momma does and so do I.”

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”


“The tears that heal are also the tears that scald and scourge.”

“But see that you get on. That's your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and see that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on.”






Reviews


This scene from Friends pretty much sums up my feelings about this book:


"Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y'know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y'know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours."
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If you have not read The Shining already do not overlook the opportunity presented by the publication of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, to revisit one of the best ghost stories of our time. The appearance of the follow up offers a perfect justification for stepping through those bat-wing doors for the first time. 
It has been a lifetime since I read The Shining for the first time, over thirty years ago. I enjoyed it then for its effectiveness in telling a scary, no, a very scary story. Reading it now is colored, as is all of life, by our accumulation (or lack of accumulation) of experience. We see, or appreciate colors, textures, shapes, structures, and feelings with more experienced, educated eyes. We have seen, or are at least aware of real world things that are scarier than any fictional spectres. So, what does it look like through old, cloudy lenses?

It remains a very scary story. The things that stand out for me now are not so much the deader rising up out of a bathtub to pursue a curious child, although that is still pretty creepy, or the mobile topiary, which still works pretty well at making the hair on one’s neck and arms stand at attention. But King was using the haunted house trope to look at more personal demons. And those shine through more clearly now.
He had some drinking issues at the time he wrote the book, when he was 30, and concern about that is major here. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic, no question. He also has issues with anger management, not that the little shit he clocks while teaching at a New England prep school didn’t have it coming. He did. But one cannot do that to a student, however deserving, and expect to remain employed for long. His little boy, however, most certainly did not deserve a broken arm. Jack is very remorseful, and wants to make things right. He manages to get a gig taking care of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado over the winter. It will offer him a chance to get something right after a string of getting things wrong, offer a chance to save his marriage, and offer an opportunity to work on his unfinished play. Risky? Sure. But a gamble worth taking. And his wife, Wendy, agrees, despite having serious misgivings. There are no attractive alternatives.

Of course, we all know that the Overlook is not your typical residence. Odd things happen, sounds are heard, thoughts from somewhere outside find their way into your mind. Jack is targeted, and boy is he vulnerable.

But five-year-old Danny is the real key here. He is the proud possessor of an unusual talent, the shining of the book’s title. Danny can not only do a bit of mind-reading, he can also see things that other people cannot. And for a little guy he has a huge talent. He also has an invisible friend named Tony with whom only he can communicate.

It is difficult to think about the book without finding our mental screens flickering with the images of Jack Nicholson in full cartoonish psycho rage, the very effective sound of a Big Wheel followed by a steadicam coursing through the long halls of the hotel, and the best casting decision ever in choosing Scatman Crothers to play Dick Halloran. By the way, the hotel is based on a real-world place, the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado. And the Overlook’s spooky room 217 was inspired by the supposedly haunted room 217 at the Stanley.
The room number was changed in the film to 237, at the request of the Timberline hotel, which was used for exterior shots. There is so much that differentiates Kubrick’s film from the book that they are almost entirely different entities. The differences do require a bit of attention here. First, and foremost, the book of The Shining is about the disintegration of a family due to alcoholism and anger issues. How a child survives in a troubled family is key. The film is pretty much pure spook house, well-done spook house, but solely spook house, nonetheless, IMHO. There is considerable back-story to Jack and Wendy that gets no screen time. You have to read the book to get that. Jack is a victim, as much as Wendy and Danny. You would never get that from the slobbering Jack of the film. The maze in the book was pretty cool, right? I liked it too, but it does not exist in the book. I believe it was put in to replace the talented topiary, which is the definition of a bad trade. There is significant violence in the book that never made its way into Kubrick’s film, but which very much raises a specter of domestic violence that is terrorizing real people living in real horror stories. There are a few lesser elements. Jack wielded a roque mallet, not an axe. Danny is not interrupted in his travels through the corridors by Arbus-like twin sisters. And the sisters in question are not even twins. Thereare plenty more, but you get the idea. An interesting film, for sure, but not really the most faithful interpretation of the book. King saw that a film that more closely reflected what he had written reached TV screens in 1997, with a six-hour mini-series version.
Irrelevancies of a personal nature
The opening shot was filmed on the Going–to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park in Montana. I have had the pleasure (7 times in one visit) and recommend the drive wholeheartedly. It is a pretty narrow road though, so you will have to drive carefully. Bring along the appropriate musical media for the best effect, Wendy Carlos’s Rocky Mountain, and dress warmly. It was below freezing when I reached the top of the road, in August. Some exteriors for Kubrick’s film were shot at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. I visited but did not stay there back in 2008. Sadly I do not have any decent personal photos from the place. I can report, though, on a bitof kitsch. There is a place in the hotel where an ax is lodged in a block of wood, with HEEEEERE’s JOHNNY on the ax, a tourist photo-op. And yes, I did. Sadly, or luckily, the shot did not come out well, so you will be spared.

Back to the book, Danny’s talent is a two-edged sword. He is afflicted with seeing more than anyone his age should have to see, but on the other hand, he has a tool he can use to try to save them all. Whether he can or not is a core tension element here.

King is fond of placing his stories in literary context. He peppers the text with references to various relevant books and authors. I expect these are meant to let us know his influences. Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic classic, is mentioned, as is Shirley Jackson, of Hill House fame. King had used a quote from this book in Salem’s Lot. A family saga rich with death and destruction, Cashelmara is mentioned as are some more contemporary items, like The Walton Family, the idealized antithesis to the Torrance Family, Where the Wild Things Are and novelist Frank Norris. The primary literary reference here is Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is cited many times. There had been a costume ball back in hotel’s history and it is the impending climax of that party, the unmasking, that looms here. And toss in nods to Treasure Island and Bluebeard for good measure.
King often includes writers in his work, avatars for himself.

    I write about writers because I know the territory. Also, you know it's a great job for a protagonist in a book. Without having to hold down a steady job, writers can have all sorts of adventures. Also, if they disappear, it's a long time before they are missed. Heh-heh-heh. – from an AOL interview 
Jack Torrance is a writer as well as a teacher. The play that Jack is writing undergoes a transformation that mirrors Jack’s own. In fact, there is a fair bit or mirroring going on here. Jack’s affection for his father as a kid was as strong as Danny's is for him. His father was an abusive alcoholic. While Jack is not (yet) the monster his father was, he is also an alcoholic with abusive tendencies.
I never had a father in the house. My mother raised my brother and I alone. I wasn’t using my own history, but I did tap into some of the anger you sometimes feel to the kids, where you say to yourself: I have really got to hold on to this because I’m the big person here, I’m the adult. One reason I wanted to use booze in the book is that booze has a tendency to fray that leash you have on your temper…For a lot of kids, Dad is the scary guy. It’s that whole thing where your mother says, ‘You just wait until your father comes home!” In The Shining, these people were snowbound in a hotel and Dad is always home! And Dad is fighting this thing with the bottle and he’s got a short temper anyway. I was kind of feeling my own way in that because I was a father of small children. And one of the things that shocked me about fatherhood was it was possible to get angry at your kids. (from the EW interview cited in Extra Stuff)
He’s right. I have had the pleasure and I know. Wendy gets some attention as well, as we learn a bit about her mother, and see Wendy’s fear that she has inherited elements of her mother’s awfulness.

Not everything shines here. There are times when five-year-old Danny seems much older than his tender years, even given his extraordinary circumstances. It struck me as surprising that there is no mention of anyone suggesting that maybe Jack might attend an AA meeting. But these are like single dead pixels on a large screen.

If you want to read horror tales that are straight up scare’ems, there are plenty in the world. But if you appreciate horror that offers underlying emotional content, and I know you do, my special gift tells me that The Shining is a brilliant example of how a master illuminates the darkness.
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Quite simply put, The Shining is the best horror story I have ever read. It scared the hell out of me.

Over a period of time, I have noticed certain standard "motifs" in horror stories. One of these I call "The Lost Child". Such stories will typically involve a child, who can see what the silly grownups cannot see (or, even if they do see, don't acknowledge because it goes against reason and logic): and who fights, however high the odds stacked against him/ her are. Danny Torrance is such a boy.

Danny can read minds. He can see the frightening thoughts inside his Dad's and Mom's heads ("DIVORCE", "SUICIDE") but is powerless to do anything about it. Danny does not know that he has a gift; he takes it as a matter of course, until Dick Halloran of the Overlook Hotel tells him that he "shines on".

Jack Torrance, Danny's Dad, reformed alcoholic and struggling writer, is trying to put his life back together after a tragedy. He gets what he sees as the ideal chance when he lands the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel for the winter. In the snowed-in hotel with only his son and wife Wendy, Jack assumes that he will get enough quality time to be with his family, patch up old quarrels, and write that breakout novel.

But the Overlook has other plans. The hotel, which feeds on and grows in strength from the evils committed on its premises, wants Danny-permanently-to join its crew of ghostly inhabitants. And to do that, it needs to get to Jack...

The novel slowly grows in horror, starting with mild unease, moving up through sweaty palms and dry mouth, to pure, gut-wrenching terror. Jack's slow slide into madness is paralleled by the growth in power of the hotel's dark miasma, and Danny's extraordinary capabilities. We are on a roller-coaster ride into darkness.

The world of grownups is often frighteningly incomprehensible to young children: these fears seldom die as we grow up, but remain dormant in our psyche. There are very few of us who does not have a ghost in our childhood somewhere. It is when the writer invokes this ghost that story gets to us. King does a masterly job of awakening that child, and putting him/ her in the midst of childhood terrors through the alter ego of Danny Torrance, lost in the cavernous corridors of the Overlook.

There are a lot of passages which literally creeped me out in this novel (the topiary animals, the fire hose in the corridor, the woman in the bathroom to name a few). As King has said elsewhere, the monster behind the door is more frightening than the monster slavering at you: this book is full of such monsters. More importantly, you will keep on remembering your own boogeymen while you are reading; and long after you finish, you will feel the urge to look behind you.

Horror stories are a form of catharsis. As King says, the writer takes you to the body covered under the sheet: you feel it, and are frightened. At the same time, you are relieved that the body is not you.
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About as perfect a haunted house story as can be, King was at his best here.

It's as though he built a haunted house and then filled every nook and cranny with detail. King is also at his best in regard to characterization, all well rounded and complete, we know family relationships, group dynamics, all the old hidden buried fears.

King touches base with psychological elements, theological, metaphysical, spiritual, and cryptic aspects of a ghost story to wrap the reader in a blanket of horror.

** I watched the 1980 Stanley Kubrik film recently and this made me want to reread the book (which I need to anyway). Kubrik's film grasps the psychological elements of the book and delivers an extra large thin crust The Works pizza of haunted house horror. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance is still the defining image of this tortured man. While some critics have derided the slow pace of the film (atypical for jump-out-and-yell-BOO! horror fliks of the time) I felt that Kubrik was building the tone and mood of the story to the grisly final moments. King himself has attributed mixed emotions to the film as an adaptation, but has consistently agreed that the imagery of an internal struggle with the dark side of Jack's psyche is a contribution to the horror film genre. King also disagreed with the casting of Nicholson who too closely identified with insanity (due largely to his exceptional work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Interestingly, King himself was battling alcoholism while writing the classic and viewing his work and Kubrik's vision from this perspective adds greater depth to an understanding and appreciation of both.
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His best book is 'The Green Mile,' but since it doesn't quite fall under the Horror category, it is either 'Shining' or 'Carrie' which take top prize.

There is not one single detriment to this well-known tale of the disintegration of the American family within the realm of the un-dead. King here is as he has never been since: metaphoric and concise. He usually adds fact upon useless fact that converts a 400 page work into something more gargantuan, &, therefore, less enthralling.

King is not a fan of the Kubrick film, and it is easy to see why. His story is about the build up of tension, the "shining' a catalyst that promotes a bridge between the haunts & the humans. The boiler burns, blows everything up just as Jack Torrence forgets his humanity and becomes an ego/id complex. His selfishness & his alcoholism (a hereditary illness... another theme about family "curses," and weak threads) leads to savagery. The ghosts are the manifestations of a child's bruised home-life and the suffocation and claustrophobia have more to do with that tragic past than the hotel's eerie interior.

I place this masterpiece next to 'The Exorcist', a tale that is more than just a simple tale of demonic possession. To say the 'The Shining' is just a ghost story is something Kubrick ran with... completely ignoring the pathos of a family eating away at itself. The Torrences suffer because they had been broken prior to the stay at the Overlook... it seems that for this one all the stars aligned and all the ingredients for one of the most amazing horror stories of all time mixed exquisitely. This one was the one that made King king.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11588.The_Shining?from_search=true

Ghostland by Colin Dickey

Ghostland by Colin Dickey


3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,166 Ratings  ·  465 Reviews
Ghostland by Colin Dickey download or read it online for free
Ghostland by Colin Dickey
An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country's most infamously haunted places--and deep into the dark side of our history.

Colin Dickey is on the trail of America's ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie homes," Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as "the most haunted mansion in America," or "the most haunted prison"; others, like the haunted Indian burial grounds in West Virginia, evoke memories from the past our collective nation tries to forget.    
       With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living--how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes to those facts are made--and why those changes are made--Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved. Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we're most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.

Reviews


“Do I believe in ghosts? No, but I am afraid of them.”
- Marie Anne de Vichy Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand

One summer, around the time I was in middle school, I spent a week at a friend’s family-farm in central Minnesota. The farmhouse was a familiar type, nestled in a copse of trees and surrounded by otherwise-treeless fields. The house was old and sprawling and had been subjected to several additions over the years, so that the interior was filled with odd nooks and corners, with shadows and strange sounds.

And it was haunted. Or so I was told before even setting a foot inside.

The ghost was a woman who – I believe; vagueness is essential to ghost stories – would have been my friend’s great-grandma. She’d died many years before. In the living room she had a tchotchke cabinet with glass doors that locked with a key. The key had disappeared at some point, and the doors were eternally locked. No one had touched those knickknacks in decades. They were as they’d been when the great-grandma died, frozen in time like Miss Havisham’s furniture.

But…

Sometimes at night [cue a flash of lighting, a peal of thunder], if you listened closely, you could hear the metallic click of a key entering a lock, and the slow thin squeal of the locking mechanism as it turned…

I’d like to say I felt some otherworldly presence that night. That, perhaps, I heard a sound that might have, could have been, a key from a different dimension turning a lock on a cabinet filled with ridiculous figurines. I didn't though. Never heard a thing. That didn't stop me from being terrified. I didn’t leave my room all night, afraid I’d see something in that living room as I made my way to the bathroom. I came very near to peeing my pants.

I’m sure most people, whether open to the supernatural or not, have a story like this. We live in a haunted world and ghosts – or at least their stories – surround us.

Colin Dickey wanted to know why. In Ghostland, he embarks on a journey across the United States to give us “an American history in haunted places.” In doing so, he expounds on the reasons these stories exist, and why they have endured.

Dickey divides the book into four quadrants. The first covers haunted homes; the second haunted businesses (such hotels, restaurants, and brothels); the third haunted public places (such as prisons and cemeteries); and finally, haunted towns (where Dickey eschews classic ghost towns in favor of major metropolises). He explores places that are both well-known, such as the “House of Seven Gables” in Salem, Massachusetts, and the Cecil Hotel, in Los Angeles, as well as others that are less famous, like Cathedral Park in Portland, Oregon.

I venture that most readers will be familiar with many of the places Dickey visits. The restless spirits of the Stanley Hotel (aka the Overlook, from Stephen King’s The Shining) and the Queen Mary are no secret, especially if you have ever spent five minutes watching The Travel Channel. (For the record, I have spent more than five minutes, while drinking more than five wines).

Dickey, however, is not out to give you a typical ghost tour. He is – quite frankly – almost disinterested in the purported ghostly occurrences that drew him in the first place. There are times when he introduces a location without even bothering to relate the predicate ghostly tale. If you are fascinated by the supernatural, I suspect this might be a disappointment. Dickey is clearly a skeptic – by the end that skepticism has almost become impatience – but proving or disproving the paranormal in any methodical way is not his purpose.

In other words, this is not a literary version of Ghost Adventures. Instead, Dickey has a more cerebral goal. He is out to interpret the meanings behind each tale. To do so, he utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses history, psychology, sociology, architecture, and literature. Taken on these terms, this is a fascinating book. Dickey deftly segues between fields, mining insight and significance from anything from the construction of a house to the factual contours of an alleged haunting. Ghostland reads very smoothly. Dickey’s fluid prose, coupled with his boundless curiosity, makes this very engaging from beginning to end. (At less than 300 pages of text, it is not a huge investment of time in the first place).

There are weighty topics here, weightier than I expected from a book called Ghostland. In one chapter he talks about spiritualism and its role as a religion in which women were not placed in a subservient position. In another he discusses the role of race, specifically the absence of black ghosts, in the spook stories of the south. I enjoyed his handling of this material, which he presents briskly but intelligently. I appreciated his look at a familiar topic from a fresh viewpoint.

That said, I did not love this. Ghostland belongs to a genre I call the Historical Road Trip. The success of a book in this genre, like the success of an actual road trip, rests largely with the driver. Like any road trip, there are good stops and bad. (Dickey’s literary visit to Binghamton, NY, is as dispiriting to read as a literal visit to Binghamton, NY). As the driver, Dickey disappears for large stretches, writing mostly in an objective, third-person manner. That’s a shame, because some of the best parts (such as his visit to the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis) come when he relates his experiences in the first-person.

Dickey comes across as a bit of a pedant. He states that he’s not out to disprove paranormal activity, which is strictly true. However, he is out to undercut the historical premises that underlie the ghost stories themselves. This has the same effect, and sort of kneecaps his own topic. By the end, I thought of Dickey as that friend we all have, the one who is constantly correcting everyone else by saying, “Well, actually that’s not true…” (For the record, I’m that friend in my friend group).

This book is missing the vital element of fun. I like how Dickey engages some heavy topical issues, but that engagement doesn’t necessarily require the utter absence of joy. I mean, this is a book about ghosts! Reading this is a bit like signing up for a cakewalk college course, say Intro to Schwarzenegger Action Films, and then showing up to find out you’re in Organic Chemistry. Okay, this isn’t exactly Organic Chemistry. Still, there should be humor here. There should be interesting characters. Instead, everyone he interviews is dead (pun intended; this book could’ve used some puns) serious about whatever they’re saying. I can only imagine how a different writer, such as Sarah Vowell, might have handled this subject.

Because this book is so grave (another pun, again intended), Dickey’s conclusions as to why people believe in ghosts run the gamut from snarky (he posits that some folks have too much time on their hands) to farfetched (such as lingering guilt over taking this land from American Indians). The easy answer, and I think the right answer, is that belief in ghosts comes from the same place as faith in a god. It is the hope in life after death. Evidence of a ghost means there’s evidence that things don’t just end with our last gasping breath. That’s both comforting and terrifying.

We live in an old house with creaky wood floors and doors that don’t quite fit into their frames anymore. Thus, as day settles into night, there are noises galore. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve been sent downstairs by my wife (weapon-free, mind you), to see if anyone is breaking in. (It’s never been fully explained what I’m supposed to do if someone actually is breaking in).

Being something of a storyteller/bullshitter, I am fond of telling people that the house is haunted by the ghost of Charlie. Charlie lived in the house before us. I know this because we still get his mail. I also know that he died, though in a hospital. Like any good ghost story, this one combines a single thread of truth with a lot of outright fabrications. Sometimes, though, when I’m sent downstairs to make sure the front door is locked, and it’s late at night, and the lights are off, and the house is sighing and slouching in its foundation, I start to wonder if I’m going to run into Charlie in the hall, going about his business as he had in life.

I never do, because Charlie’s ghost is something that doesn’t exist. Just as ghosts don’t exist. I know this with my head. My heart, though, is giving me a more complicated message. One, that despite their nonexistence, ghosts are scary. And two, that part of me hopes my head is completely wrong. That ghosts are real. That life goes on, even after death.

Ghostland is a not-spooky, but thoroughly entertaining, examination of ghost stories and haunted locales throughout America with the express intent of debunking the paranormal and better understanding how ghost stories reflect on our past and present.

Given the book's dark cover and the timing of its release, it seems necessary to reiterate that there's nothing particularly creepy about this book. The author dug through family trees and historic records until he unearthed every inconsistency or blatant lie associated with famous ghost stories or well-known haunted locations. He actively debunks one ghost story after another.

The author posits that ghost stories are malleable, changing throughout the years to accommodate society's various needs:

Paying attention to the way ghost stories change through the years -- and why those changes are made -- can tell us a great deal about how we face our fears and our anxieties. Even when these stories have a basis in fact and history, there's often significant embellishment and fabrication before they catch on in our imagination, and teasing out these alterations is key to understanding how ghosts shape our relationship to the past.

In addition to stories of ghosts, the author examines several haunted locations, revealing details spanning from the evolution of their (sometimes) bizarre construction to their rise in popularity as a notorious haunt. The more unusual the house, the author states, the more likely it'll cause unease among its neighbors and the more we seem to require some kind of story to explain its construction. Additional locations explored include haunted bars and brothels, hotels and restaurants, asylums, graveyards, and more.

Though it doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the book, it sometimes feels as though the author drifts off on a tangent. For example, a chapter that begins by introducing a notoriously haunted house eventually segues to a discussion of Spiritualism, which ultimately leads to an examination of a woman's right to vote. These shifts in narrative are never a point of contention for the reader, because all of the information is well-researched and tied together seamlessly.

This is how ghost stories are born, after all: not from a complete story so much as from bits and pieces that don't quite add up, a kaleidoscope of menace and unease that coalesce in unpredictable ways.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places is a skilfully crafted and compelling book that will appeal to fans of American history, trivia, haunted locales and ghosts.

GHOSTLAND is a stirring and expertly written historical account of our ghosts, the ones we celebrate and the ones we hide. 
This is not a cheesy ghost hunters TV show in book form. Dickey deconstructs the folklore and myth surrounding the US's most famous/notorious hauntings. This is a book about how ghost stories happen, how they are created, how they evolve, how they reflect our history and how they often bury the history we don't want to face. His chapter/essay on Salem is one of the most astute I've ever read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Info source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28815491-ghostland?ac=1&from_search=true

Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs Free Download

Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.  Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?  Sometimes as a series continues, the later books can begin to get a little boring and contain few surprises. But not the Mercy Thompson series. You managed to surprise and shock me mightily. In fact, I think Fire Touched contains one of the biggest shockers in the series and we are now up to book 9. download free full epub ebook kindle mobi
Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Sometimes as a series continues, the later books can begin to get a little boring and contain few surprises. But not the Mercy Thompson series. You managed to surprise and shock me mightily. In fact, I think Fire Touched contains one of the biggest shockers in the series and we are now up to book 9.

Fans ought not to worry, the shock is something which, when one thinks about it at all, is entirely organic to the plot and makes sense and it happens fairly early in the piece. But it’s a big shakeup in the Mercyverse and the ramifications of it will ripple into the next Alpha & Omega book and at the least, the next Mercy book too.  And no, I’m not going to say what it is.  Even though it happens in the first third of the book and usually I’d consider that fair game for a review, I really think it’s best experienced without spoilers.


Which leaves me with the dilemma of what I can say about the plot. Here goes.

The story begins with Mercy and Adam getting a call from the local police; there is a troll on the Cable Bridge between Pasco and Kennewick, damaging cars and lives have already been lost. Can they help?  Of course, Mercy and Adam being who they are, do indeed rush to the bridge, together with other pack members who are close at hand. Mercy’s fae walking stick has recently turned up again and it decides to go along for the ride also.  The fight with the troll takes a toll on the humans and the wolves but they are ultimately successful. Aid comes in a surprising form; a young human boy, who, to all appearances, looks about 10 years old, but who was taken by the fae possibly centuries ago. He has been “fire touched” and has the gift of fire. He is also unexpectedly helpful to Joel (pronounced Hoe-el), who readers will remember was turned into a tibicena in Night Broken. Aiden, the fire touched, asks the pack for sanctuary from the fae (from whom he has escaped) for a period 24 hours.