Monday, 22 February 2010

The Shining 5th-20th February 2010

Amazing!!  More brain vomit to come.

This is my favourite read of this project so far. While it was quite difficult to read the book without seeing Jack Nicholson, his hairline and eyebrows, it was long enough since I’d seen the film to not have Shelley Duvall or Danny Lloyd in mind. I had someone else completely in mind for Halloran, but can’t, for the life of me, think of his name at the moment, or anything he’s been in to be able to look him up on It’ll come to me.

One of the things that struck me when reading The Shining was, having set up this mammoth task, I’m always conscious of keeping it moving and keep catching myself looking at the road ahead, rather than where I’m planting my feet. Due to the express purpose of this mission of immersing myself in the experience of the books, this will never do.

Related to this is the defence mechanism I tend to feel kicking in when the horror/suspense of the plot situations sometimes hit and other times they don’t. For example, when I read the part where Danny has slipped the passkey into the lock of Room 217 for the first time and, thinking better of it he walked away and had the encounter with the fire hose. I read it, and realised that despite the language, pacing and suspense of the writing, all of which, when I read it a second time, should have had me gripped and feeling Danny’s fear. However, I read it matter of factly and a plainly as any other prosaic plot turn. I think a big part of this has to do with something I heard Neil Gaiman say in an interview (yep, the same one where he described a book as a movie without a budget) where he discussed the disparate attitudes of adults and children to his book Coraline. He said how adults had seen it as a horror tale, whereas children viewed it as an adventure story. He put the children’s point of view down to their conviction that everything will turn out alright in the end. It sounds about right; there are no Arlington Road endings in Disney family favourites. So, while I know that things aren’t necessarily likely to come to a happy conclusion with his books, for the ones that I have read or seen the film at least, I know how things turn out, and with that in mind, the story marches inexorably to that end and despite any plot twists and turns, there are no real surprises.

So with these two factors, it’s taking some concentration to stick to my intended modus operandi. With the one’s I have read before, I’m fascinating in the language, the characters and, above all the story. In that respect, I loved The Shining and am already looking forward to reading it again in the future.

I read somewhere (and hope I’m not making this up) that Stephen King referred to his books as dating quickly. By that I mean they are entrenched in the time in which they were written. So far, I’d agree. From references to cars, popular culture, and in ‘Salem’s Lot, Ben’s presumably near-full tank of gas costing a little over $3, it’s not hard to judge the year of writing. It’s not all that related, but when I picked up the book, I saw it had been published in 1977, the same year as I was born. That got me to thinking that the book and I will always be the same age (I know that’s obvious) and as such, we have been around for the same amount of time. I’m not sure that’s as significant as I’d like, the more I think about it. What I do think is that I’ll never have a static relationship with the book. While the book has had thirty odd years to be read, digested, analysed, and to suffuse itself into our consciousness, I have had the same amount of time to grow, learn, develop and cultivate a mind with which to receive it (not exclusively of course, I’ve got a bit more going on than that.) Like I said, I think I’m inventing significance, or at least not explaining it properly, or perhaps misinterpreting the significance. Fuck it.

If you haven’t read The Shining, do.

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