Beautifully narrated and wonderfully horrific! Stephen King's best work, beautifully written and enormously engaging.
Jack Torrance, as Stephen King demonically demonstrates his slow demise...His slow disintegration of his mind and his perceptions of the evil which is lurking in the hotel are mind blowing!
Jack Torrance entering the "empty" lounge for the "fish and goose" soiree. As the Overlook Hotel is closed for the winter, and Jack and his wife and son are the only people in the hotel, the appearance of "Lloyd", the bartender, is the harbinger of the horror that is to unfold for Jack.
Since there were essentially only 4 main characters in the book, Jack Torrance would be the most interesting. He had little grasp on reality and his understanding of what was real and what wasn't, was very intriguing. Asking him about what he thought of the evil forces which were forcing him to kill his wife and child would be most interesting.
I can't count how many times someone has told me to read The Shining because of how much better and different it is than the Stanley Kubrick film. For years I've wandered around with the memories of people saying how Kubrick ruined the book, how he changed everything that was important to the book to create a film that resembled the book in title only. "Oh, you'll understand so much more", and "the book is way scarier", and "there is good motivation for what Jack does in the book", people have said to me. And so I've been curious about this book for a long time. I've wondered what exactly it is about this book that causes people to, quite emphatically, state that arguably the greatest filmmaker in the history of motion pictures, not to mention one of humanity's greatest artists had someone botched the whole thing.
Good horror is created by not knowing all of the pieces of a dangerous puzzle: "What's around the corner?", "Who's screaming in that graveyard on this stormy night?", "Is there a killer alien with acid for blood on-board this old mining ship?". Combine not knowing important information with the chance of death (or worse) and you've got the basic formula for horror. And often a thing ceases to be scary when we see it, when the lights come on, or when we understand it - fear is born of the unknown.
In this novel, King attempts to create fear and terror by setting us up in a fancy hotel with a mysterious past for a few months of winter isolation; it's basically his take on the old haunted house story. The problem, however, is that he really does wind up explaining too much or tries too hard to give us two plausible interpretations of what is going on - are they just hallucinating, is Jack just going through alcohol withdrawal, or is the hotel really haunted. And if the hotel is haunted, who is haunting it? Old Hollywood mobsters and a rich old lady who killed herself?
I can see why Stanley Kubrick was attracted to this book because there are a lot of good ideas, but Kubrick trimmed all of the fat and turned a fairly shaggy book that, frankly, isn't that scary into one of the greatest horror films ever made. And all Kubrick did was not explain everything that King went into great detail about. Kubrick pretty much went through the book, crossed out everything that even smelt like an explanation, reconfigured a few scenes to be more efficient (having Hallorann give them the full tour instead of it being broken up into two parts like in the book).
Now I'll admit that in a book where we are supposed to live inside the character's heads King couldn't just give us limited information otherwise the book would have been about 150 pages long, at best. And King is at his best when he's creating characters and having them interact, though this book largest weakness is that there are so few characters that it sort of goes against King's strength as a popular writer. Books like The Stand, Tommyknockers, and It work well because the characters have a lot to do and it wasn't until later with Misery and Pet Cemetery that he could do more with fewer characters because by then he'd become a better writer.
So in a way this book really can only ever be a good template for a great film because it just doesn't work that well as a book. The characters a thin, Wendy in particular is useless and flat - in fact she's so bad that not even Kubrick could do anything interesting with her outside of making her life miserable in the film. Danny is pretty good, as is Hallorann, but they don't feel very fleshed out, they exist only to keep things moving or to make things weird. I do, however, much prefer King's Stuart Ullman to Kubrick's. Why Kubrick made Ullman so likable was a missed opportunity because Ullman is our introduction to the hotel, it's spokesman so-to-speak, and Kubrick should have made him more menacing.
My biggest gripe I reserve for the hedge animals. In small doses they would have been fine, but by the end I just could not take them seriously. The second you actually try to visualize a hedge animal attacking someone the image is just too comical to be scary or to even be taken seriously. Kubrick was wise to carry on with the European flavor of the hotel by using a hedge maze instead.
One thing I did find odd is that so many people have told me that the alcoholism of Jack is far more played up in the book and is a possible central cause to his insanity. Yet this is also true in the film. The scenes with Lloyd are almost identical, Kubrick changed almost nothing for those scenes and it's quite apparent Jack has a drinking problem and that the hotel is using that against him to drive him more insane and to control him. True the film isn't about a alcoholic losing control, Kubrick's film is more supernatural, but the themes are still there and one could easily say that the hotel (right down to the film's neuron receptor carpets) is a manifestation of Jack's drinking issues and abuse. For King (and audiences who prefer King over Kubrick) to claim Kubrick messed this up is idiotic and says more about King's (and his fan's) inability to contextualize theme.
I also was scratching my head about the whole side-story with Jack's drinking friend, especially the part where they thought they killed a child on a bicycle. What was that all about? That whole idea literately goes nowhere. Yes it scared them both to stop drinking, but why didn't King tie that into the rest of the book? And speaking of missed opportunities, why didn't King include Grady's dead wife and, more importantly, dead little girls? Kubrick immediately took advantage of this to create what is arguably the most iconic image in the film: the Diane Arbus style twin girls holding hands. The hotel had all the other ghosts of people past, why not them, too?
I did like that Hallorann played a more important role in the book. Kubrick just kills him off the second he gets to the hotel and that was only used in that he needed a way to get Danny and Wendy out. King used Hallorann more, but that character dipped so dangerously close into a "black man" stereotype that I cringed more than once.
All in all the book isn't bad, but the last quarter is just a lot of grunting and screaming and inane dialogue with too much pleading and yelling. The Shining is a shaggy ghost story that isn't nearly as well crafted as King's later, and much scarier books (Pet Cemetery being my personal favorite because it's also a little goofy) . I really was let down because not only because I didn't find it all the scary, but also because the book and Kubrick's film are far more similar than I was led to believe - I had been hoping for something much different.
Born and raised in the Charlestown section of Boston. Irish-American, music (punk rock), crime & history, or anything having to do with those are my favorite subjects.
The Shining was a book I had always wanted to read, having heard how different it was from the movie. I wasn't sure if that was good or bad because that was a classic horror movie. So many quotable scenes & lines.
However, after listening to this book on Audible, I found it to be much better! It is completely different, but in a GREAT way!
It not only has plot twists & scenes not in the movie, but also the characters are studied in much more detail and we see & feel what they do. It drags you in & makes you feel like you are snowed in at The Overlook.
I wish they could do a movie that was true to the book but also, with the great acting & scenes that were such a major part of the film.
In ending, this was a great piece of writing that explores many more subjects that are beyond a simple "horror" story.
Life Learner that has to occasionally sprinkle some fiction into my audio entertainment. Be educated, be worldly, and keep switching gears!
Yes...I unwittingly already have. I was telling a friend that the book was not what I expected and in doing so I mentioned some parts that I really enjoyed- all the while I was advocating the indulgence and so she purchased the physical book as she hasn't caught the Audible buzz yet.
Dick Hallorann. He introduced the substance of the talent of 'shining' thus helping to put Danny's capabilities in perspective. His actual involvement was limited yet very necessary!
Voice inflection character personality. Great Job!
The name is perfect. Now I understand. I ask people who love the movie do they know what the title stood for and non could answer- I explain and all were like... "Oh, wow".
My first King book....I expected non stop thrill- not what it was; however definitely not disappointing. I am learning to appreciate his style: very descriptive. I like.
I almost didn't read the shining because I didn't care for the movie. then I ran across an article about how king also hated the movie. so I gave it a chance and I'm glad I did because it was worth it. all the elements to a good horror story are there. the second half of the book really picks up. the narrator was monotone for most of the story, then in the last stretch he got better.
The story! The narrator! And Stephen King was right in that the original movie by Stanley Kubrick can't even come close. Although I like both movies well enough, there's nothing better than listening to the story!
Reviewing the Audible edition. Campbell Scott's dazed, sort of lumbering reading of this story is perfect. It fits the "disgruntled patriarch" theme of the story perfectly and adapts well when embodying other characters. The story... I can see why King isn't in love with the Kubrick version, but the Kubrick adaptation, now that I've finally read this, reveals itself as quite genius in its understanding of what needs to be told to get the point across. However, yeah, there is an actual story here, and that story is not in the film. Honestly I can't say the book is better for it, but I can say it would be interesting to see Netflix or Amazon get a modern auteur to adapt the whole book, instead of just the main thrust of it.