I have to re-read this book every so often because I forget how very amazing it is. I, for some disturbing reason, tend to blend the absolutely hideous rendering of Stanley Kubrick’s vision of The Shining and Jack Nicholson’s dreadful, over-the-top, and unsympathetic interpretation of Jack Torrance with the much better TV mini-series version with Stephen Weber as Jack. I think I’ve seen them too many times. However, reading Stephen King’s original novel manages to erase these images, albeit temporarily. His descriptions are that good. I get a completely different picture of Danny, Jack, Wendy, and Hallorann.
This book amazes me so much because, not only is it beautifully written, chocked full of imagery, figurative language, and symbolism, but it is done subtlety, never once trying too hard. The characterization is done with such sleight-of-hand intonation, dialects, and attitudes that I don’t even have to try and imagine them. They are real.
The best thing about this book, however, is King’s ability to parallel the personality changes one experiences in the descent into alcoholism with the slow takeover of the hotel’s malevolent presences. At times, it is not clear which is worse, living with a severe alcoholic or these haunting spirits. King manages to manipulate you into fearing and despising Jack one moment and then into sympathetic compassion the next, something completely lacking in Kubrick’s version, sadly, because this gives the novel its depth and literary value.
This is definitely one of Stephen King’s best! Five out of five stars!–Christina Knowles
Read my review of Doctor Sleep.