The Girl Who Loved The Shining

My Stephen King romp continues as I finished up The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Kubrick’s King’s novel, The Shining. I kid, I kid! Still, film buffs and horror aficionados alike could not help but associate the King novel to the Stanley Kubrick 1980 horror classic of the same name.
 
Let me start with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I didn’t know what to expect from this one. To tell you the truth (because why would I lie), I found a mint hardcover copy of the novel at a thrift shop and made the purchase on a whim and because I had been looking for Stephen King titles. This book was the only title sitting atop of an old dusty bookshelf by its lonesome. And so, it was purchased for a whopping $2.00. I thought I’d jump into some lighter King reading having just finished the “biblical” IT and judging by the book’s “thickness” figured it would be a quick read. And that, it was.

 
It was quite a departure from IT but still an enticing and entertaining read. For the most part (all of it), we make the acquaintance of Trisha, a 9-year-old girl who gets lost in the woods after wandering away from her mother and brother while in the middle of an argument. We follow her on her journey and are alongside her as we experience, through her eyes, the dangers and consequences of being lost amidst the woods alone. Exciting! It is anything, but.

 

I used to go “hiking” in the woods with friends and family when I was a kid and remember that sinking feeling in my gut when we thought we got off course and onto the beaten path as the sun was near the horizon on a late summer evening. As one would do, imagination takes over, and thoughts of what may come in the dark crept into my subconscious. Such thoughts included ghosts, devil worshipers, pig heads impaled on wooden stakes, wolves, and derelicts looking for poor helpless souls (me) or perhaps looking to mug us for the bus fare. These are the things I thought about when reading The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.
 
Yes, the book is creepy as hell in parts. But, (yes, there is a but), I was taken away from this feeling of dread because of where the story eventually led. And no, I will not spoil it. Let’s just say that after having enjoyed a great portion of this novel, I was ultimately left somewhat dissatisfied and a little disappointed. Still, it was worth a read for the in-between.
 
The Shining, on the other hand, I adored. Again, being relatively new to the King‘dom, having read the novel above, Joyland, IT, On Writing and Nightshift; The Shining (at the moment) sits at the top of King’s books in my current King library. Why?  I really can’t say. The way the story and the writing flowed was, in my opinion, engulfing. I understand that this is the source material for Kubrick’s on-screen adaptation but I grew up watching the film as a kid, and so I was somewhat anticipating more of the same. I knew coming into this that Kubrick took many liberties in his rendition of King’s novel but had no idea that despite its similarities how a few variations can alter the overall tone of the story.
 
For one, Jack and Wendy Torrance as depicted in celluloid in the 1980 film were almost opposites as was written in the novel. In the book, Jack was a likable person and a pretty decent dad trying to do what is best for his family. You can see his transformation from being a caring, yet troubled, dad to an “all bets are off” persona at its conclusion. In the film, as played by the iconic Jack Nicholson, the character’s transformation is not as strong having already displayed a sort of “coo-coo”/alpha personality from the on-set of the film. Could it be those arching and menacing Nicholson eyebrows?
 
There is much to love from both the book and novel. It was certainly an interesting read in that it felt like the story was somewhat new because of the differences excluded in the film adaptation. Much how I loved Kubrick’s film, despite his departure from the source material, I too loved King’s novel. And no, I will not say that one was better than the other. I love them both equally and appreciate what they both have to offer.
 

There is another on-screen adaptation in the form of an ABC miniseries starring Steven Weber as Jack Torrance. This mini-series was written for television and directed by King himself. He even slapped his name onto the title; Stephen King’s The Shining. Not being satisfied with Stanley Kubrick’s film, King wanted to do it “right” and sought out to make a more faithful adaptation of his work. For those who have not seen this version or for inquiring minds, I say avoid this one like the plague. A watered down version, bad acting and bad special effects make for a very unappealing TV movie. Heed my warning and stay away! I wanted to like this one. Really, I did! But, in the end, I just ended up comparing it to Kubrick’s version. While I could definitely see a more faithful rendition of the story, being that ABC, then owned by Disney, it was too watered down and hokey to keep me interested. And, for those in the know, good God what did they do to Tony!?

I wanted more “shining” so I picked up the sequel to the 1977 novel, “Doctor Sleep”.  More on that when I finish that one.

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