Tonawanda News

October 27, 2013

BOOK NOOK: Skip the horror movies, read 'The Shining' instead

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Halloween is right around the corner, and Stephen King is celebrating by releasing the highly anticipated sequel to 1977’s “The Shining.” Published on Sept. 24, the new novel, “Doctor Sleep,” has since received high praise from fans of the initial installment, many of whom claim “The Shining” to be the scariest book they’ve ever read.

Diving into the history of the original, “The Shining” was released in Stephen King’s formative years, being only the third book the author had published at the time. With an opening dedication to his son Joseph reading. “This is for Joe Hill King, who shines on,” “The Shining’s” title was inspired from the John Lennon song “Instant Karma!” delivering the lyrics “we all shine on.”

For those unfamiliar with the story, either via book, or Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation, “The Shining” is the story of Jack Torrance, a man who takes a menial position as a caretaker of a hotel for the winter months, when the business closes for the season. Jack brings his wife and son along, the latter of which learns he has psychic powers. The story kicks into the meat of the plot when Danny begins to discover evil forces residing in the hotel. 

The sequel “Doctor Sleep” picks up with Danny a few decades later, to see how his psychic powers have developed.

Interestingly, the plot line of “The Shining” closely mirrors King’s life at the time. After writing and publishing his first two novels “Carrie” and “Salem’s Lot,” King wanted to take some time away from his home town, where his first two books were set. He took his family to Boulder, Colo., on a whim, after they chose it at random from a map, not unlike the Torrance family’s trip to a secluded hotel in the same state.

The similarities don’t stop there. King got the majority of the concept behind “The Shining” when the author and his wife wanted a quick getaway around Halloween time. The couple had their children looked after, and went to check into The Stanley Hotel for a night to themselves. When they arrived, they learned they would be the only guests that evening, as the hotel was set to shut down for the winter the following day.

Prowling the large, empty hallways and lobbies, King began developing the idea for his novel. He even stayed in room 217, a room number the family in his book would soon share. King would later say “It was like God had put me there to hear and see those things. And by the time I went to bed that night, I had the whole book in my mind.”

Subterranean Press, a genre fiction publisher specializing in horror, suspense, mystery and science fiction, is releasing limited edition signed copies of a new printing of “The Shining,” this version including detailed illustrations. While the site is still taking pre-orders on the “gift addition” with a hefty price tag of $99, the 802 signed copies have already all been laid claim to. It’s safe to say the popularity of the novel, now 36 years old, does not appear to be slowing down. 

“The Shining” started out as a five-act play, only later evolving into novel form. A prologue known as “Before the Play” was originally intended to be included, but was later cut. It was to be an introduction that gave some background to the fictional “Overlook Hotel” and its dark past, as well as a glimpse of the abusive upbringing Jack Torrance had to endure growing up. This prologue wouldn’t show up until released in a copy of “TV Guide,” as part of a promotional move to build up hype for the 1997 television series soon to air. Additionally, an epilogue titled “After the Play” had also supposedly been written, but it had never been published, and King claims to no longer own a copy of it.

Give the horror movies a rest this Halloween season, and check out one of the best horror novels ever written instead. Still as much of an addicting thrill to read as back in 1977, “The Shining” will creep you out plenty — and if you’re a fan of the movie, fans almost entirely agree that the book is even scarier.

Dean Goranites publishes weekly video book reviews at unleashthis.tumblr.com, and can be reached through Twitter at unleash_this.

• WHAT: "The Shining" • BY: Stephen King • GRADE: A