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Mirkat

Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

The Shining

The Shining - Stephen King, Campbell Scott

Like most people, I have seen the Stanley Kubrick-directed movie adaptation of The Shining. It's been so many years since I have seen the film, that I don't recall it in great detail, but of course I remember the iconic lines and images most people remember: Danny croaking "REDRUM"; Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance shouting "HEEEEEEEERE'S JOHNNY"; Shelley Duvall's Wendy discovering that Jack has typed pages and pages filled with the repeated phrase "ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY."

I only just got around to the novel (audio narrated by Dying Young actor Campbell Scott) because I saw the trailers for the Doctor Sleep movie. The trailer made me want to check out the book, and since it's a sequel (I didn't even know!) to The Shining, it was obviously time for me to consume The Shining.

Jack Torrance is a writer who has recently lost his teaching job at a prep school in Denver, Colorado, after an unfortunate incident arising from losing his temper with a troublesome student. Jack's temper is an ongoing threat/foe, lurking within him and threatening to be triggered by any number of potential circumstances. Jack is an alcoholic struggling to keep his promise to stay dry, while carrying shame over the things he has done while inebriated. The two worst moments were a drunk-driving accident involving a bicycle and the uncertainty over whether the bike had been accompanied by a child (please let it just be the bicycle) and the time two years before when he broke Danny's arm while turning him around to spank him. Danny, age three at the time, had spilled beer onto Jack's manuscript.

Jack is given what seems like a lifeline: the opportunity to serve as winter caretaker of a grand hotel in the mountains of Colorado: The Overlook Hotel. Jack tells himself this will be his chance to stay dry while making a fresh start with his family and his writing. Without the possibility of accessing booze, Jack expects he will be able to focus on and finally complete the play he has been working on. The play could potentially increase Jack's profile, and maybe he can get his job at the prep school back.

But the Overlook is no ordinary hotel. The Overlook has.... History. Other caretakers have lost their sanity there, and done terrible things. To their families. Danny has had troubling premonitions about the Overlook. The hotel will bring something dark and destructive out of his daddy, suggest the premonitions. The place "makes monsters of men." Dick Hallorann, the hotel's cook, takes Danny aside after giving the family a tour of the pantry and kitchen. He recognizes in Danny a power that he shares, "the shining." When you "shine," you have certain psychic abilities. Since Dick and Danny both "shine," they are able to have a conversation entirely in their heads. Danny not only has telepathic powers, but he also can see the past and the future. This makes the hotel particularly frightening and dangerous for Danny. He can see things that have happened in the hotel's past, as well as things that are likely to happen in the future. People have been dying in the hotel for decades.

There is something in the hotel that wants to get into Jack Torrance, to play to his emotional weaknesses and his egotistical ambitions, to manipulate him into attacking his wife Wendy and Danny. If the hotel has its way, the Torrance family will never leave.

Stephen King has famously criticized Kubrick's interpretation of his story. I can understand where he is coming from. Here is an article on this topic:

Stephen King's Hatred For Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, Explained
[Spoilers for both the book and the movie]

I have already begun listening to the audio version of Doctor Sleep.