Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paging Doctor Sleep


Last night, I finished reading Stephen King's latest novel, Doctor Sleep, his follow-up to one of the most beloved of books among his fans, The Shining. Doctor Sleep continues the story of Danny Torrance, now Dan, into adulthood, finding him a miserable alcoholic who, after hitting his "bottom," tries to find redemption in a small New England town. A young girl, Abra Stone, seeks him out, reaching her telepathic fingers into his mind as she attempts to come to terms with her own powers. As events unfold, Abra and Dan discover some dangerous beings who lurk in the most innocuous of places in the American landscape, calling themselves the True Knot (I will never, ever, look at a Winnebago the same). The book unfolds as a battle between good and evil, the plot following, much like Bram Stoker's Dracula, the battle between a Crew of Light and a legion of darkness thousands of years in the making. It also follows the battle between good and evil within one person, one person who can make the choice to give himself over to his demons or who can bury them once and for all.

I have to admit that I didn't find the book frightening. Not in the pulse-racing, gut-squeezing way that The Shining grabbed ahold of me, shook me up, and has still refused to let me go. Doctor Sleep is an entirely different book, as I knew all along that I wanted it to be. To find Dan Torrance, once again, entirely at the mercy of the "ghostie people" would have been too much to bear; to see him taking control of his life and his mind is a relief. The power of Doctor Sleep lies in its redemptive vision, of humanity and our ability to take small steps toward a lighter selfhood, one not weighed down by all of the awful things that came to pass in the past.

I highly recommend this book. Yes, I would sometimes like King to rein in the grossness, as I don't think this is where his true talent lies. He is not at his best doing what he calls the "gross-out." He is at his best creating real characters who shed light on those nasty bits hiding within us and just how difficult it can be to overcome them. J/A
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