|the LA freeway in 1977|
I find myself identifying deeply with The Shining, because I feel like I've been to that world. In so many ways reading The Shining is like a personal trip down memory lane. I don't know these people, but I am familiar with their alien environment.
It's all in the little things. Jack drives a yellow VW. My aunt and uncle had a yellow VW, and my family had a blue one. The year, late 1970's -- same time frame the Shining was written in. So, the scene where Jack pulls up in his VW is especially powerful to me, since I remember playing in my families driveway, and looking up to see my father coming in his VW Bug. My mother hurried me to get out of the way -- I think I was playing with toy cars.
A big deal is made in the book of Jack having a phone installed -- and again, I feel like I vaguely remember that world.. A world that used microphones to record things;a world where boilers still had to be checked 3 times a day. A world where someone can't just cell phone or text to announce the outcome of a job interview. A world where Richard Nixon was long gone -- but his memory still stung.
Who can really say they remember the 70's with any kind of fondness? Well, I can. I don't remember it well, mostly just feelings -- but mostly all good. In 1977 the Apple II went on sale, the average income was $15,000 and the average home cost under $50,000. Get this, the average monthly rent was $240. In theaters Star Wars was released. Meaning that in 1976, people didn't know what Star Wars was!
Also released was a movie named Roller coaster Not great on plot, but it was filmed at Magic Mountain (partly) and I like it because I can spot old rides. Notice in the movie The American Revolution, the first roller coaster to make a full loops, does not have shoulder straps. Magic Mountain was also Wally World in National Lampoons Vacation. And, again, notice that back then Revolution required no shoulder straps! They only added the harness because people thought they would fall out, even though that's impossible.
By the way, goodreads lists The Shining as #1 on their list of "Most Popular Books Published In 1977." (www.goodreads.com)
Do you remember this world. . .
A Note About Jack:
King objected to the portrayal Jack Nicholson gave Jack Torrance. Reading the novel again, I can really see what was missed. Kubrick's Jack is crazy; King's Jack is broken. The difference is that crazy Jack is always seething just under the surface. He is not tender toward his wife or son, just completely self absorbed.
The Jack of the novel is more complex. He deeply loves his wife and son and sacrifices for them. He plays with Danny, changes diapers when Danny was a baby and fights to keep his marriage together.
When Kubrick's Jack goes nuts and kills everyone, there is absolutely no surprise. It's crazy to watch it unfold, but you could tell he was nutso from the get-go. King's Jack displays moments of rage, but in the early novel King is careful not to show us that Jack in action -- instead we see the Jack who has to live with the consequences of his bad behavior. It's like seeing the aftermath of a nuke and having to imagine what exactly the force was that brought on the devastation Only later will King show us the nuke in action.
The Shining, Journal #2