‘Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.’
I chose this as my second ‘All Hallows Read‘ book after finishing Richard Matheson’s Hell House earlier in October. At over 650 pages it’s a big read, yet it rarely felt like a slog. I’m not a huge fan of King, but I’ve always found his work very readable. I went through a phase of reading his novels in my teens spanning from Misery (1987) to The Dark Half (1989). Unfortunately, this included The Tommyknockers which was a slog to finish.
The Shining is one of King’s most famous novels as well as being very highly rated. It’s basically a haunted-house story, but I also found it to be a fascinating look into alcoholism and self-control. The main character, Jack Torrance, is a recovering alcoholic with a fiery temper, so well portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Kubrick’s movie. In the book, the characters are a lot more fleshed out than in the film. This gives us a chance to feel more attached to them, making their eventual fates that bit more distressing.
Despite already knowing the story from watching the movie, I still enjoyed the book. King is very good at writing characters and building up the tension. It’s interesting to discover where the book and film differ. For example, there are a couple of weird scenes set in the garden of the hotel that didn’t make it onto celluloid. They involve Danny and a number of hedges sculpted into animal shapes. This particular idea didn’t work for me.
I’ve read comments from people preferring one to the other; some love the novel, others prefer the movie. There’s also a lot of comment out there on the TV adaptation which King reportedly prefers to Kubrick’s film version. I haven’t seen it. though it does sound interesting. I like both the novel and Kubrick’s vision.
If you haven’t read it I encourage you to do so, providing you are interested in the haunted-house genre. Why not save it for a future ‘All Hallow’s Read’? It’s a book that is suited to reading in the Autumn as the days shorten and the darkness grows.