Friday, June 18, 2010
Friend Review: The Shining (Audiobook) by Stephen King ★★★★★
"I audio-ed the book this read. I have to say, although I am very, very familiar with the story because I've read it so many times, I felt differently hearing it as oppossed to reading. I don't know how much of that was King that I just missed before, or Campbell Scott, the reader.
Jack Torrence, head of his little family of three, wife Wendy, son Danny. He's a recovering alcoholic with quite a past of unacceptable behaviour. His family is in pretty dire straits because of his actions, and he's given, what he feels is his last best chance to pull himself up by his bootstraps. He has the caretaker job of a Colorado hotel so far in the mountains as to be snowed in most of four months each year. Not only can he earn a living, spend quality time with his family and get back on his feet, but he can finish the play he's been working on for years. Perfect opportunity. Or is it? This is King, remember?
Danny, Jack's five year old son has abilities. Hidden, un-talked about, only glimpsed abilities. He gets feelings and has a knack for knowing mommy and daddy's moods, and occasionally, their thoughts. The basic premise of the story is what the hotel, (perhaps haunted?) does to, and wants from Danny because of these abilities, and just how far it will go to get him. Jack is a tool the hotel uses, and this is just too much for the poor guy's psyche. He falls apart.
Every other time I've read this book my focus has been on Jack. Not everyone agrees with me, but I've always felt the hotel sped up his decline, but that he was headed that for it anyway. I like Jack. I get why his friend gets him the job and wants to help him. He's a nice guy, but he's also an alcoholic, and not a happy, slappy, fall down laughing drunk, but a mean drunk. You have to watch out for those. This time I was more fascinated with Wendy. The love she feels for Jack and Danny is so real you can almost feel it. She knows her husband is in bad shape, but she sticks by him. She's loyal. Jack questions her loyalty, but as the reader, I never do. When Wendy makes a decision Jack feels is against him, it's always, and only, for Danny's sake. Never her own. It's obvious she is the sort of person who will put her loved ones ahead of herself. Every. Single. Time.
Everything that happens, everything the hotel convinces Jack and Wendy of, is only possible because of their pasts. Neither one has had an easy row to hoe growing up. It's a credit to them as parents that they want their boy to have more, and of better quality than they did. It seems that should be a given, but it's not. They are sincere in this wish, and that's part of what makes them the perfect targets. Much in the beginning of their downfall is based on decisions they feel will better Danny's life. Being a parent myself, I understand that.
Danny is a pretty interesting character himself. I almost wish King would re-visit him, a la Jack Sawyer from The Talisman in Black House. I bet Danny is an interesting (to say the least!) adult. Will he be able to put what happens in The Shining behind him? Will he live a life of guilt? I hope he moves on, but I wish King would let us know for sure."