The Shining

The Shining
April 28, 2010 Constant Readers

theshiningAndrea: Okay, so I wrote down the quote in the beginning of the book for some reason, but my pen was running out of ink, and now I can’t read it!
“The sleep of ____ breeds monsters.”

Pat: Reason.
Andrea: I don’t know what that means in reference to the book. I mean, it would make more sense if it was, “The sleep of dirty dark secrets breeds monsters.”
Pat: Did you skip the parts of the book where Jack Torrance was involved?
Andrea: What do you mean? Like, it is saying that reason is asleep/missing?
Pat: Alcohol, temper = Lack of reason.
Andrea: He didn’t have any reason!
Pat: Lord GOD.
Andrea: Oh okay. I am misreading the quote. It makes it sound like the sleep of a reasonable person breeds monsters. DISLIKE. I demand clarity.
Pat: You mean, going to bed at a reasonable hour makes you a monster?
Andrea: No, like reasonable people have monstrous thoughts in their dreams?
I don’t know. Let’s move on.
Pat: What’s scarier to me than The Shining is how you managed to score higher on the SATs than me.
Andrea: What’s scarier to me is that we are pushing 30, and you’re still talking about the SATs.

Andrea: I apparently missed a key whole point of the book (Danny having the Shine) because the first page of my notes says, “How does a 5-year-old know he lost his job? Are kids more perceptive than I think?” But I guess that is foreshadowing for people who never read it before.
Pat: You’re not supposed to know he has the shine until he meets Hallorann.
It’s called good writing!
Andrea: I know. I forget that not everyone re-reads King like nine million times.
Pat: I’ve never read The Shining before. I didn’t know about the Shine.
Andrea: You thought The Shining was the name of the hotel
Pat: No, I didn’t think that
Andrea: That was a joke. So you never saw the movie either?
Pat: I don’t remember much about either movie
Andrea: Me either. Like, I have no clue how the Kubrick movie ended. All I can remember about it are the scenes that ended up in that trailer that turned it into a comedy.
Pat: I think they’re trying to escape, Jack is after them outside near the hedge maze, and then Scatman Crothers appears out of nowhere and kicks ass.
Andrea: So Jack dies in both? When we get to talking about the movie we need to talk about “awesome stuff that was only in the movie” like the fake novel Wendy finds.
Pat: Let’s try talking about the book instead, like how the first half of the novel is them not in the hotel. Should this have been a shorter book? Is there too much characterization and backstory before the real story starts?
Andrea: I liked that. I loved how he sketched Wendy and Jack’s early relationship and marriage, the parts when they are unmarried and living in an apartment and poor. Many of King’s books have tons of ancillary characters. And this doesn’t, so I think you need that extra background. His characterizations are typically what I enjoy most.
Pat: The book wasn’t thrilling until maybe the last 50 pages.
Andrea: It was slow, I agree. There was a line near the beginning that I liked, when he talks about children being jerked around like puppets for adult motives. It totally brought back that awful feeling of being a kid and having no control over what happened to you (on a small scale―like being dragged around on errands all day, for example.)
Pat: Once again, he’s awesome at writing kids. The whole “Daddy’s not doing the Bad Thing” voice.
Andrea: Yes! He actually seemed like a kid with this weird power, not like an adult talking from a kid’s head. Was it impossible for you to read this without picturing Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and that ugly kid they picked to play Danny?
Pat: Yes. Stop bringing up the goddamn movie!
Andrea: They are intrinsically linked. But okay.
Pat: The other thing that worked really well—so well I stole it for a short story—was the third person narrator with everyone’s thoughts (what everyone was thinking)
parenthetically thrown in.
Andrea: I don’t think King has done that before, but he does it incessantly in later books. And I think it’s really unique to him.
Pat: It is. Because it’s fucking awesome and effective.
Andrea: Agreed. In King’s world, all caps means telepathy, though,  not singing
Pat: Something about the exclamation points makes me think “¡Conyo!”

Pat: The third person perspective was really close. It took some getting used to because it jumps from being third person close to each character.
Andrea: Agreed. There was an omniscient narrator for each character which was really effective.
Pat: I think it principally worked because it was a small family, which made it less jarring. Except when they floated out to Florida. But once that happened the first time, it got more fluid each time it came back.
Andrea: Some of my favorite parts were the side stories about the hotel’s history—particularly the way that Danny’s shine means that he can tell what people are thinking about but he isn’t sure what it means to him. Like when the women thinks that she wants to get in the guy’s pants.

Pat: Like he’s watching a TV show he’s too young to understand?
Andrea: Exactly Like how I didn’t know what “knocked up” meant when I was 7 and I saw Dirty Dancing.
Pat: That’s not very Irish of you.

Andrea: Was this written pre- or mid- King coke binges?
Pat: Let me consult my copy of Coke Days: The Day-To-Day Usage of Stephen King, Circa 1977.
Andrea: Let me consult your mom.
Pat: All it says is “Suck it”

Andrea: This is the second book in a row with a really bad mother/daughter relationship.
Pat: As a daughter with a mother and a mother with a daughter, what are your thoughts?
Andrea: Well, my mom is awesome, but Wendy’s mom and Susan’s mom in Salem’s Lot were both controlling bitches. It makes me wonder if King’s mom was like that? I don’t think so though, I think I recall that she was some kind of saintly single mother. It’s just weird that they both have super controlling mothers of the same template, two books in a row.

Pat: Most people end up writing the same novels over and over again. Maybe he thought the angle was more interesting than the one in Salem’s Lot.
Andrea: I thought the estrangement angle was interesting. It would have to take something really bad for you to totally pull away from your immediate family, I would think. Also, Wendy had a dead sister just like in Pet Sematary
Pat: She didn’t have spinal meningitis, did she?
Andrea: Why they wanna see my spine, mommy?” No. I forget what happened to her. Childhood accident maybe?

Pat: I can’t decide if it was better that we followed Hallorann as he was coming to the Outlook or if it would’ve been more suspenseful if we didn’t know if he had gotten Danny’s brain-blast.
Andrea: And then he could just pop in? I feel like if they did it that way it would have been too easy. I like that they show it was really hard for him to get there. So was Dick Hallorann the first of King’s many magical black protagonists? See also: John Coffey in The Green mile and Mother Abigail in The Stand
Pat: He was. Is that more interesting than the way he writes black dialogue?
Andrea: You can tell he never knew any black people and is really afraid of offending them.
Pat: Are you serious? “Nigger” appears like forty times in the book.
Andrea: I know but the characters themselves are always saintly and kind. I just attribute the copious use of “nigger” to the fact that it was the 70s
Pat: Isn’t it possible that he just likes black people?
Andrea: I guess so. Stephen King: Friend to African-Americans.

Andrea: So, I am bringing up the movie again, but I promise it is relevant to the book
Pat: UGH
Andrea: It is well-known that one of the reasons King hated the movie is that he felt like Nicholson played Torrance as crazy all along, whereas in the book his madness descended slowly, but I disagree. In the book, he is AWFUL to Wendy and Danny from the very beginning. I mean, HE BROKE HIS KID’S ARM. I don’t even want to think about how hard you would have to twist someone’s arm to break it. And he basically treats Wendy with casual cruelty throughout.
Pat: That was when he was a drunk, though. In the past. Even the incident with the kid in the parking lot was in the past.
Andrea: Still drunk asshole does not equal casual family man gone wrong
Pat: He’s not a crazy person, and he’s not cruel. He has a temper, and Wendy is suspicious of him, which he picks up on.
Andrea: Which is what it seems like King thinks he portrayed, and she totally should be suspicious of him.
Pat: If she has the right to be overtly suspicious of Jack, then he has a right to get angry at being so obviously scrutinized. What, he quits drinking―a feat of tremendous willpower―and he’s also got to deal with her dirty looks and distrust?

Andrea: Yes. He ruined her trust by staying out all night drinking while she was home with an infant. He might have stopped drinking but I don’t recall him doing anything else to make that up to her.
Pat: Like what? Buying jewelry? Knitting her some underpants?
Andrea: Honestly? I don’t think there is any way to make it up. I would have left him long ago.
Pat: He’s an alcoholic. You make it sound like he was willfully partying with the boys.
Andrea: True. I don’t know. This is too close to home with having a five-month-old. I have the most awesome husband ever and if he was acting like Jack did I would murder him. I can’t imagine what it would be like to deal with that. So yeah, I don’t have much sympathy I guess. I guess the argument is, did Jack try to help himself?
Pat: When he was an alcoholic? HE SOBERED UP.
Andrea: I know, I know. I still have no sympathy. Mostly because he broke his kid’s arm.
Pat: You’re very forgiving
Andrea: As a parent, she has to put her kid’s safety first, and I would argue that Danny wasn’t safe with Jack.
Pat: She stayed with him because she couldn’t go with her mother, couldn’t support herself. You’re attributing too much logic to situations—fictional or not—that aren’t rational. Alcoholism isn’t a rational condition, neither is codependency.
Andrea: I know
Pat: Let’s talk about something you’re not a raging jackass about!

Andrea: The Overlook was once a whorehouse. Is that why it’s evil? Discuss.
Pat: NO. That’s so not it.
Andrea: Stephen King hates boobies
Pat: He loves boobs. We all do.
Andrea: We all = all men or all people?
Pat: ALL PEOPLE. So it’s a given that Danny’s power, this shining, is what allowed the hotel to do what it did. If Danny is the battery powering the Overlook, who powered the hotel during the other “awake” periods? Or did all of that bloodshed have nothing to do with ghosts yet? And that’s what made it ghostly and evil for Danny to come and power?
Andrea: That’s a really good question. Did the hotel become evil because of all the bloodshed, or did the evil cause the bloodshed? Perhaps The Overlook was built on an Indian burial ground?
Pat: If it’s the latter, then it would’ve needed other shiners. Just how dim is Hallorann? The hotel should have been able to work its magic with him and maybe one other person with the shine. Which also means it’s as much Danny’s fault what happens as it is Jack’s.
Andrea: There was a maid who was mentioned who had some shine.
Pat: So why didn’t mayhem break out during hotel season, when the hotel could’ve killed way more people? Was Danny that much stronger? Was the hotel that weak? Or did it also require someone it could control, like Jack? I never tried to control Danny or Wendy. It could only scream at Hallorann, which I think it did with Danny’s power.
Andrea: I think that may be a major plot hole. Also: Jack smashing the radio in a rage was a clear deux ex machina to further trap them at The Overlook.
Pat: I’m not entirely sure I bought Jack going crazy. It didn’t seem earned. He kind of went immediately full-bore insane, with intermittent periods of lucidity. I didn’t buy him being so engrossed in the papers in the basement.
Andrea: Agreed. That was weird
Pat: This is definitely a book where the article thing was more annoying than it was helpful.
Andrea: AGREED on the article thing. It was done way better in Carrie. Although, have you ever kinda gotten a little obsessed with something in that manner, not realizing it was weird until later?
Pat: I’ve never gotten obsessed like that. I’m always aware of how creepy anything creepy I do is at the time I do it
Andrea: Haha. Example please.
Pat: You know, the usual Facebook stalking.

Pat: The book was dedicated to Joe King, “who shines on.” Related: is it weird that Stephen King, who I believe was an alcoholic at the time, dedicated his book about an alcoholic writer trying to kill his son and wife to his son? Also, that his kid has the shining?
Andrea: I think that is really weird. Inner demons much?
Pat: “Originally conceived as a five-act tragedy play, the story evolved into a five-act novel that also included a lot of King’s own personal demons. “I was able to invest a lot of my unhappy aggressive impulses in Jack Torrance, and it was safe.” Wait til we get to Martian Typewriters: The Novel.
Andrea: It is hard to imagine a story existing like this today. I am sure there are places this isolated without cell service or internet or whatever, it’s just hard to imagine.

Pat: I don’t know. Mountains, Colorado, snow storms? If I say that Verizon is the only carrier that would get service at the Overlook, do you think they’ll send me a free Motorola Droid or HTC Incredible? What if I mention two of their high-end phones?
Andrea: Oh my god, I can’t believe you are sullying Constant Reader with your base product endorsements.
Pat: I haven’t used either. Because I can’t afford them. WELCOME TO PAYOLADOME
Anyway, the whole Colorado thing was King trying to get away from Maine.
Andrea: Did he? Source me. He only had 2 books before this though!
Pat: Source: The Stephen King Companion, published by Suck It Andrea Publishing.
Andrea: A Division of Your Mom Productions
Pat: Takes a literary vacation in a rural area of a state with mountains and snow. Not much of a stretch, is it?
Andrea: Not really. It was really weird reading Duma Key and having it set in a warm climate, although he lives in Florida part time now so again, not much of stretch.

Pat: Here’s something kind of interesting: according to Our Lord And Savior, Wikipedia of Nazareth, the origin of The Shining started when King read Bradbury’s “The Veldt” started writing a novel called Darkshine about “a psychic boy in a psychic amusement park”—Something Wicked This Way Comes, anyone?—abandoned it, and then returned to the idea when he and Tabitha had dinner in an empty hotel dining room.
Andrea: I don’t think I ever read “The Veldt.”
Pat: I would rate the collective betterness of Something Wicked This Way Comes and “The Veldt” to The Shining as “face-fuckingly.”
Andrea: How/why did they have dinner in an empty hotel dining room?
Pat: Because SK was drunk and heard voices.
Andrea: I kind of like the amusement park idea better! Does that mean you didn’t like it?
Pat: It’s a fine book, the last 60 pages are dynamite, but have you ever read Something Wicked This Way Comes? Both that and “The Veldt” are haunting in a way that The Shining didn’t even approach for me. And “There Will Come Soft Rains”? FUCK.
Andrea: I have not read either but “There Will Come Soft Rains” is awesome!
Pat: Something Wicked is about an evil, haunted carnival coming to town. And it wants this one kid. It’s essential what Darkshine was about. To be fair, Bradbury got to me younger than King did.
Andrea: I would argue that the Simpsons’ parody of The Shining is more entrenched in pop culture than either the book or the movie.

Pat: Did you picture Hallorann as Scatman Crothers?
Andrea: Yes!
Pat: I can’t picture him. The one image that’s in my head from that movie with him in it is near the hedge maze attacking Jack. And I’m pretty sure I’m picturing the wrong black guy. I’m picturing Everyman Old Black Guy.
Andrea: I might be too
Pat: I’m thinking of Bill Cobbs. Thanks to the Coen Brothers for making the supremely memorable Hudsucker Proxy. Dude has been in everything. If they ever do a proper remake that doesn’t suck fat fucking dick, he should be Hallorann. If he’s not dead.
Andrea: Do you really think they are going to do yet another remake?
Pat: Do I think they’re going to remake a classic movie? No, whatever would give me the idea that Hollywood has remake fever?
Andrea: Yeah, but they just remade it not that long ago. However, just for fun, let’s cast a remake.
Pat: Jack Torrance would have to be played by, uh… I’m actually picturing Ewan McGregor, sans accent. I’d say Ed Norton, except he doesn’t really pull off likeable well, which might make selling a change in Jack.
Andrea: Really? Who for Wendy?
Pat: Wendy doesn’t fucking matter. She’s a nothing character. I think Rachel Weisz would be a good choice for Wendy. She acts a lot with looks, which is what that part requires.
Andrea: Except Wendy is blond in the book.
Pat: She can dye her goddamn hair!
Andrea: So, in this dumb playwriting class I took, we had to cast The Importance of Being Earnest. And I said Reese Witherspoon for Cecily. And my professor (who was a sucky jerk namedropper) basically laughed in my face. AND OH SNAP THE REMAKE COMES OUT AND SHE IS IN IT.
Pat: I’ve never read it. So stuff your hoity-toity literati crap up your HOOHAA
What about Danny? I don’t know any young actors. Justin Bieber? I hear he’s a fetus. Let’s pretend that Justin Bieber reference didn’t happen.
Andrea: Agreed. Let’s never speak of it again. I think an unknown would be best. The little kid who was in The Road was good but he is probably too old for the part.
Pat: It’s not an option to cast a girl either. Something about the father-son and mother-son relationship is key to the entire milieu of the story. So I guess Justin Bieber’s out.
Andrea: Agreed. Now that you said that I bet they will make a remake casting a girl.
Pat: Well, they owe me a fucking drink then.

Andrea: So there was that one part about the music box that had people in a 69. And Danny said “they’re kissing peepees!” Would you purchase such a music box? Discuss.
Pat: Does the vagina count as a peepee?
Andrea: Not really, but in the mind of a 5-year-old, yes. Ah, the great vagina/vulva misnomer.
Pat: Well, the other dancer wouldn’t be kissing the girl’s urethra, for fuck’s sake.
Andrea: You are dodging the question.
Pat: I thought that was part of the clock.
Andrea: I think it was.
Pat: I wouldn’t buy such a thing.
Andrea: What if someone gave it to you as a gift?
Pat: But the kissing peepees wouldn’t be the deciding factor. Moving clocks are just stupid. If it had a key and the power to blow up hotels at midnight, I’d keep it.
Andrea: Can we vow to refer to 69 as “kissing peepees” until the end of our days? Whenever the subject comes up that is, which is pretty much never.
Pat: Until it becomes someone’s power position

Andrea: The guy making the other guy dress up as a dog and perform tricks was SUPER creepy.
Pat: That was Delvert. Or whoever. The origina gangsta.
Andrea: Is there an analogy between the guy and his dog friend and the hotel and Jack?
Pat: I’ll allow it. Are you saying the hotel dressed him up like a dog and fucked him?
Andrea: Yes.
Pat: ‘Originally there was a prologue titled “Before the Play” that chronicled earlier events in the Overlook’s nightmarish history and a disturbing interlude in which a young Jack Torrance is abused and has his arm broken by his alcoholic father, while a voice tells him that “what you see is what you’ll be.” ‘
Andrea: I don’ t like that. It is a little too pat. His arm is broken and then he breaks his son’s arm? Meh.
Pat: Here’s some fun correlations to other works: Denker is the name of the Nazi in Apt Pupil Hallorann appears in IT.
Andrea: So clearly King was bullied by a Denker. A la Wes Craven being bullied by someone named Fred Krueger.
Pat: Mother Abigail said she had “the shine.”

Pat: Oh. Dear. God. SK has said he wants to write a sequel.
Andrea: I heard that. With a crazy name right? I forget what.

Andrea: I thought it was kinda lame that a ghost let Jack out of the pantry
Pat: Well, it might’ve just been the hotel. Maybe it’s like twitching an eyelash.
Andrea: I guess. Even so, it begs the question, why didn’t the hotel just kill Wendy and Danny? Why did it need Jack if it could manifest ghosts that can do things like open doors?
Pat: I don’t know that it really wanted to kill Danny. Didn’t it need him?
Andrea: So what was its ultimate goal then?
Pat: You expect me to get in the head of a hotel?
Andrea: Well, shouldn’t the book make it clear?
Pat: Let’s be honest here. Even when SK “makes it clear,” he makes it clear with astral turtles and spiders.
Andrea: True. So I’ve never played croquet, but having seen Heathers I have a hard time picturing a croquet mallet as a instrument of destruction.
Pat: Well, it’s a roque mallet. Doesn’t he have an axe in the movie?
Andrea: Yes. That is one of many things that was unique to the movie. Also the two girls in the hallway and the blood pouring out of the elevator, off the top of my head.
Pat: We already went over this. The finger saying REDRUM. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY.
Andrea: We totally didn’t, because you said “stop talking about the movie”
Pat: We talked about it while I was in the middle of reading the book
Andrea: The part at the end, when he describes watching the Overlook die, is pretty awesome. Also reminiscent of the end of Carrie when the town burns.
Pat: I have no qualms with the end. That was the only non-contentious part of the story to me.
Andrea: What do you mean by “non-contentious?”
Pat: The only part I didn’t think could have used some fastidious editing
Andrea: What did you think about the epilogue?
Pat: Eh. I don’t think it was necessary. I didn’t give me any more real closure than the non-epilogue end.
Andrea: I agree. I thought the dialogue between Wendy and Dick was really clunky and so obviously expository.
Pat: You’re saying Wendy was awkward with Dick? Couldn’t handle it?
Andrea: You are silly
Pat: You say “silly”? What the hell has motherhood done to you?
Andrea: The Florida thing was a weird, seemingly tacked-on ending. Although I got misty when Dick and Danny hugged at the end.<3 Dick
Pat: … I’m not editing that out of the transcript, fyi.
Andrea: I am not asking you to. Not ashamed!