Sunday, October 11, 2015

Book 124: Misery by Stephen King

There's nothing quite like reading an old favorite at radically different phases of life. Stephen King's classic Misery was one of the first books I ever dared to borrow from the public library when I was a teenager. More than twenty years of my life has passed since then, and it's just as riveting and scary as ever.

Misery is the story of bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon, who is badly injured in a car wreck in the snow and ice of Colorado. He's "rescued" by mentally ill, horrifyingly unpredictable ex-nurse Annie Wilkes, who "nurses" him back to "health." Wilkes is also a crazed super-fan who decides to hold him hostage until Sheldon revives Misery, the main character of his bestselling novels, whom he killed off in his "final" book

For me, Misery is horrifying on multiple levels. One - being held hostage by an extremely mentally ill woman; two - becoming addicted to pain medications that only pause the agony; and three - living forever with post-traumatic stress. Oh, and having limbs hacked off with an axe and electric knife - yeah, that's terrifying, too.

I've said it a million times - Stephen King is a master at developing characters. It takes imagination, research, and insight to write someone as screwed up as Annie Wilkes. While reading this, I've often wondered how King could acquire such a deep understanding of Paul Sheldon's emotions while trapped in this predicament. It's almost as if King would need to live something as dark and terrible to be privy to Sheldon's thoughts and emotions.

Thirty one years after its publication, Misery is still just as awful, gross, and juicy - and I love it. 

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