The Shining, a look at the Stephen King masterpiece by
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I have always said one thing about The Shining: the book and the movie are both excellent, but they are not the same story. (Please note: when I am referring to the movie I am referring to the Stanley Kubrick version, not the TV mini-series.) OK, both have a hotel, and both have a man who goes stir crazy. Both have a psychic child and a woman whose spirit has been so beaten it has been shattered. But that’s really as far as the comparison goes

The Shining is one of Stephen King’s most popular writings. The one major difference between the book and the movie is the fact that in the book, the hotel itself is a main character and in the movie it is not. Stephen King has this way about him when he writes that allows the reader to look and see what is going on, from the color of the rugs to the cobwebs in the corners; he made an inanimate object animated for the purposes of the mind. No matter how good special effects get, nothing can create an imagination the way Stephen King does.

OK, I’m blabbering. The story has a great plot. A family of three, the Torrances, are hired to be the winter caretakers of a majestic hotel. Sounds easy enough, however the hotel happens to be at the top of a very large mountain in Colorado and once it snows the family will be confined to the hotel and its grounds due to the weather.

The major characters are equally great: Jack Torrance, the father, is a writer who can’t wait for the peace and quiet as well as the opportunity to start over. You see, he fucked up his life by hitting a student he found slashing his tires. Yes, Jack is prone to fits of violence. And if that isn’t bad enough, he’s a recovering alcoholic with writer’s block.

Wendy Torrance, the mother, is a basically good-hearted woman who yearns to have a great family and to keep it together. She is a worrier, but loyal to her husband. She’s pretty boring, as Stephen King’s characters go, but she serves a very important purpose at the end of the book, so don’t write her off too quickly.

Next we have Danny Torrance. He’s a normal five-year-old boy. Well, if you consider precognition through an invisible friend and blackouts to be normal…

Last, but certainly not least, we have the hotel itself, The Overlook. Its past includes, but is not limited to suicides, orgies, and, yes, you guessed it! Murder! It is essentially a place where evil has thrived, and therefore has seeped into the very foundation of the building.

There is quite a bit of foreshadowing in the beginning. Dick Hallorann, The Overlook’s cook, warns Danny about the Overlook and tells him about "The Shine". He understands Danny’s psychic abilities. He tells him to shout with his mind if anything goes wrong. Also, Jack is warned of a previous winter caretaker who kills himself, having gone stir crazy.

And then there were three… the Torrances are all alone at the hotel. For a while, all is well. Jack is able to work and the family is patching up its problems. But the peace doesn’t last for long. Not only is Jack having full length conversations with ghosts, he himself is becoming a ghost of his past self, the self he was trying to start over from. And strange things begin to happen. A vacated wasps’ nest suddenly has inhabitants putting Danny in danger, topiary animals come alive, Danny has bruises on his neck after venturing into room 217,and the snowmobile and radio are no longer functional (for reason unbeknownst to even himself, Jack has cut off all communication with the outside world). Jack and Wendy fight over unexplained incidents, as well as worry about Danny’s "hallucinations". If that’s not enough, Jack become obsessed with the hotel’s past, and takes in a little bit more of it every day.

Explosive reading! This is one of Stephen King’s best works! It incorporates everything: ghosts, alcoholism, psychics, and, of course, lots and lots of suspense!

How do the Torrences survive? Or do they? Silence from me…

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