Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do You Plan To Read THE SHINING Before Doctor Sleep's Release ?


Doctor Sleep is a stand alone book.  It is not a sequel to The Shining.  However, it contains characters from The Shining -- namely Danny Torrance.  Should readers reread The Shining before Doctor Sleep?   Stephen King has made it clear that he knows some people will, but that it is not necessary for understanding the new novel.

Huck Finn followed Tom Sawyer,  had the same characters, but you don't have to read Tom Sawyer to understand Huck Finn.  However, why wouldn't you want to read Tom Sawyer?  And likewise, why wouldn't you want to read The Shining?

I started rereading The Shining the other night.  I'm listening to it as I run, which makes  the running no less painful, but at least gives me some motivation to get out and moving.  I run late at night, so that makes reading Stephen King all the better!

Why reread The Shining?
Because the movies have tainted my memory.  Did Jack freeze to death?  No. . . that was the Kubrick version.  Did the Overlook remain,  or do I remember is blowing up?  I think it blew up.  I think that boiler went from the basement to through the attic. . . but I'm not sure!

I've seen Kubrick's version of The Shining many many more  times than I've read the book.  Add to that the fact that I've also watched the ABC mini-series.  It seems appropriate to return to the original text and refresh myself.

Because the story is pretty simple, we can assume we know it well.  But there are many things I've already encountered that I'd forgotten.  The reason Jack was sent packing from his teaching job, for instance.

Some Quick Notes:
A few things stand out to me right away as I start back through this book.
1. Ullman is absolutely right to be uneasy about hiring Jack.  The reader experiences the scene through Jack's eyes, so on first read Ullman comes off as a jerk.  Or, in Jack's eyes, he's a officious little prick.  But this is not my first journey through The Shining, so I know that though Ullman may seem like a jerk, he's actually spot on about more than a few things.

Ullman raises several valid concerns about Jack's employment.  He's worried that the family will be so isolated that they cannot get help if they need it.  And how true that is!  Danny will have to use his Shining to call for help when trouble comes.  He points out that the previous caretaker had two little girls, and the Hotel turned out to be a less than welcoming place for a family.  He wishes the owner would hire a single man to do the work.

Ullman is also concerned that Jack's creative mind will go stir crazy in a big empty hotel.  He might start imagining things.  Could this be his way of warning Jack that all is not as it appears?

The biggest concern  on Ullman's mind is Jack's drinking.

2. King gives us quite a bit of the hotel's history.  I know, and have read, the extended prologue King originally wrote for the novel.  It's great!  However, King does a nice job in chapter 1 of telling the reader that the hotel has a very dark history.

3. Chapters 2 and 3  introduce us to Jack's drinking and his temper through two different sources.   First Danny and Wendy are given a scene in which Danny recalls abuse at the hands of his father when he messed up the play his dad was writing.  Second, Jack is being given a tour of the hotel boiler room when he has a flashback of hurting Danny.  All this is nice foreshadowing.  The reader wonders: Will he do it again?

4. Chapter 3 also introduces us to a major character -- the boiler.

First Edition:

The oldest "first" edition Stephen King book I have is The Shining.  I bought it about a year ago, anticipating Doctor Sleep.  I knew they would print The Shining and Doctor Sleep together at some point, but it seemed like a good idea to have an actual first edition of both books.

The cover of the book itself tells you right away that the family dynamic is quite different from that of the movie.

4 comments:

  1. I've never listened to the audiobook, so I might track down a copy of that and listen to it between now and then.

    It's only been three or four years since I reread the book, though, so my memory is relatively fresh. I hope "Doctor Sleep" ends up being great. So great that even Chris C. enjoys it! ;)

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  2. I went ahead and re-read the book myself earlier this year in anticipation of Doctor Sleep. It had been over ten years since I had read The Shining, so I figured it might do some good to get familiar with Danny again. What was interesting is that there was so much within the novel that I had forgotten about. It was almost like I was reading parts of the book for the first time, all while the general story idea was already in my head. Because of this I have decided to go back and re-read everything by King, my mind wondering how much I have forgotten about each.

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  3. Well, first off a confession. I'm actually kind of fuzzy on the whole stand alone, not a sequel business.

    For one thing, King himself, as well as the book PR calls it a sequel. For another, the problem with labeling such a book stand-alone at this juncture is somewhat problematic as the major audience are going to be a great majority that already know The Shining, many of them not even King or horror fans. Such a time when and if Sleep ever comes to be a stand alone would have to be some far future date, yet I wonder if the legacy of the Shining is such that it ever will be thought of as stand-alone.

    To give another example, C.S. Lewis wrote several sequels yet none of them is ever quite good at being stand alone with numerous references to previous events. In fact, not even Huck Finn is an entirely stand-alone novel, now that I realize Twain’s book does the same as Lewis.

    As for “Original Text”, for what it’s worth, I still think the book and mini-series as they stand sum things up pretty well, and should be left as they originally stood.

    ChrisC

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  4. I'm glad I found this blog. I got Doctor Sleep for Christmas, I've not read The Shining, but I have seen the movies. But have heard that King was really displeased with Kubrick's film. Besides your blog, I haven't been able to find if DS was stand alone or not.

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