Andrea: Once upon a time, there was a man named Paul Sheldon who was a very famous writer, about as famous as, IDK, one Stephen King.
Andrea: Do you ever not disagree? Cause that would be novel.
Pat: As famous as Charlotte Whatshername, maybe.
Pat: The True Blood hack.
Yeah, the famous Bronte sister that wrote True Blood. That one.
Andrea: I started typing before you said True Blood, you douche.
I think that lady is named Charlaine.
Paul Sheldon is a novelist who rose to fame with his Misery series of books. Misery being the improbably name of the main character, who he recently killed off to his own personal delight. He is currently celebrating in an unknown bed in an extraordinary amount of pain, which he imagines as a bunch of pilings off of a beach that are periodically submerged by the tide.
Pat: I’m not a huge fan of books starting off with extraordinarily vague details.
Andrea: No. If I was reading this now for the first time I’d be like, OH MY GOD NO. STOP SUCKING.
Pat: That’s PRECISELY what I was saying to the book.
Andrea: Right. I remember because I was telling you how awesome it was, and you said it sucked for like, 24 hours.
Pat: It sucked for the first day I was reading it. Things can suck and then not suck. Apart from you, who has always sucked and will ever suck.
The only specifics we get are that someone with godawful breath resuscitated him, and he’s in a bed in the home of his “number one fan.”
“…raped back into life by the woman’s stinking breath.”
Andrea: Gag. I don’t know if there is anything worse than bad breath. It is DECAYING FOOD IN SOMEONE’S MOUTH.
Pat: I’m thinking AIDS is probably worse. And the Holocaust.
Andrea: I’m just talking smells. Not genocide.
Pat: He thinks of Annie Wilkes, his benefactor, savior, and captor, as some sort of African idol. Which brings me to the sudden realization that she might actually have been black? Or am I imagining that post-reading?
Andrea: I did not think that there was anything to indicate that she was black, but I possibly missed it because I was obviously picturing Kathy Bates the whole time.
Pat: “She’s not magical, so she clearly can’t be black” is the thought that just crossed my mind.
Andrea: Plus, she didn’t use any dialect, another dead giveaway.
Pat: So Paul is mostly awake, knows he’s doped up on a painkiller called Novril, his wallet is being kept safe by Annie, and that he is in deep trouble.
Andrea: “A hell of a jam,” as it were. We learn that Annie is big and solid and gross, no curves to be had, no “welcoming orifices.”
Pat: “He discovered three things almost simultaneously… that Annie Wilkes had a great deal of Novril… that he was hooked on Novril… that Annie Wilkes was dangerously crazy.”
Andrea: Is there anything scarier than being addicted to a drug that is held just out of your reach by a lunatic?
Pat: Again, probably the Holocaust?
Andrea: So shortly thereafter is the realization that she is his number one fan, and, oh yeah, she’s keeping his wallet safe somewhere undisclosed.
Pat: Try to draw within the lines, Andrea.
I can not even imagine what you are perturbed about right now. I am sticking to the story. I am using caps and punctuation.
Pat: Sometimes, just sometimes, you bring up things we’ve already moved on from. Which generally makes me think you’re not paying any attention to what I’m saying.
Andrea: I DIDN’T MOVE ON FROM IT YET. We didn’t talk about the wallet thing.
Pat: You mean, apart from me bringing it up and you not saying anything about it for four minutes?
Pat: See? You’re not even reading what I write.
Andrea: We then learn that the only advice his dad ever gave him was to use a condom. This appears to be a non sequitur.
Pat: I would agree with that, but it shades the fact that his father telling him to always keep an eye on his wallet is totally bullshit, fabricated to excuse him asking Annie where the fuck it be.
Andrea: This is also the first time he sees the disturbing dark cloud of crazy that shades Annie’s features. And she starts telling him the looong story of his accident, which also sets the stage of the town, her weird little routine, etc.
Pat: And that she named a pig Misery after the character.
Andrea: Which is such a dumb name for a character.
And his other books are supposedly so great? He’s like half Jackie Collins and half John Updike?
Pat: He thinks they are, but he’s hardly impartial. The book-buying public would seem to argue that his best-selling Misery novels are his best. Although they sound like Victorian tripe to me.
So Annie also has this weird catatonia where she blanks out mid-sentence, “becomes untethered from reality,” which Paul recognizes from when he did some research in a mental institute. So if he didn’t already know she is batshit, he knows in like the first hour of being conscious.
Pat: Wait, are you doing summaries?
That seemed more summary that statement of opinion.
Andrea: I am talking about what happened in the book. My opinion is that Annie is the creepiest mofo this side of TAK.
And that despite the lackluster first couple sections, the book sucks you in pretty much immediately, Paul’s potential escapes are knocked down like dominos.
Pat: At this point, I’m not scared of Annie yet. At all. Obviously, I’m nervous, but so far she’s just a little off with the crazy-gaps.
Andrea: I mean, the only thing that could redeem her at this point is if we found out she is keeping him because the hospital exploded or some shit.
Sheldon has just finished his first post-Misery novel, Fast Cars, based on a Tracy Chapman song, which he believes to be his finest work of all time. He had gotten drunk after finishing it, took his Camaro out for a spin, and had a bit of a crash. Here we find ourselves with a series of problems to watch over: 1. the copy of Fast Cars in his Camaro is the only copy, 2. Annie Wilkes is a huge fan of Misery, and 3. she has just started reading Misery’s Child, and does not yet know that Misery will fucking die.
Andrea: It is not based on a Tracy Chapman song.
Pat: Don’t fact-check my jokes.
Andrea: If I can tell they’re jokes, I won’t. Gimme one reason to stay here.
Pat: Oh I am in so much trouble, Paul muses.
Andrea: How old is he supposed to be? 40s, right?
Pat: Round about there.
Andrea: Cause he had kind of a midlife crisis, post-divorce, joy-riding air about him, and it makes him a little unlikeable.
Pat: He’d just finished what he thinks is his greatest literary achievement, so I think celebrating by getting tanked is allowable. Maybe not driving drunk in a snowstorm.
Andrea: Not just driving drunk, drinking as he drives.
Pat: Potato, potato.
Andrea: Ah, here it is. He is 42, and he finishes the book, orders champagne, and then just starts driving west for no reason.
Pat: Annie withholds the Novril from him for the first time after he “makes her” spill soup on himself. And out comes the famed “cockadoodie” adjective.
Andrea: I like cockadoodie, but it’s no dirtypillows
Pat: And when she finally does, she offers him the bucket water to wash it down.
Which, man: gross.
Andrea: That was horrifying. Imagine if you and me found Stephen King’s crashed car.
Pat: I would call 911 immediately. It would be one of the few times I would try to put aside my weak stomach to render medical assistance.
Pat: Why, what would YOU do if we found his crashed car?
Andrea: I don’t know, I was picturing a sitcom where he comes to live with us.
Pat: So no hospital? Or else why would he live with us?
We don’t even live with us.
Andrea: It was just a funny fleeting though I had!
Pat: You misspelled “crazy” there.
Andrea: The other really disgusting thing is how he can’t figure out what shape his legs are under the blanket. UGHHHHHHHHH
Pat: Yeah, totally gross.
Then Annie finds out that Misery is dead, and she is not a happy camper.
Andrea: But before that she finds Fast Cars manuscript and asks to read it. Paul basically says yes because he senses that she will withhold pills if he doesn’t.
Pat: Well, yeah, but she almost immediately puts it down to go back to Misery’s Child. We get a sly indication of what we’ll find out later, “In my job I saw dozens of people die—hundreds, now that I think about it.”
Andrea: And about her weird moral code: She is all pissy about the profanity in Fast Cars and doesn’t like the switching perspectives.
Pat: Paul is a dirty birdie.
Andrea: There is also the memory about the beautiful bird with sad eyes from Africa in the zoo. Which makes him all weepy and comes up a few times later.
Pat: Well, at one point he has a bad dream about being in an airplane hangar hospital ward, with an evil Annie Wilkes presiding over him. And he wakes up and is like, I WAS DREAMING ‘BOUT AFRICA.
Andrea: Yeah. And then she drops the thing about “when I was on the stand in Denver.” So basically for the first quarter of the book with every page Paul is deeper and deeper in shit.
After reading what she can of Fast Cars, Annie returns to Misery’s Child, and she finds out that Paul has killed her beloved Misery. The character, not the pig over in yon barn. She stomps out of the house to her happy place for 51 hours.
Pat: Her Smiling Place? The Laughing Place? The Chuckle Hut?
Andrea: Yes. The next section is a total mindfuck wherein Paul has a dream that he’s woken up in the hospital, only to learn that the nurse is Annie Wilkes dressed up as Misery Chastain channeling the Sandman.
Pat: Is this the part in the huge hangar of hospital beds?
Andrea: Yeah. It is only a brief prelude though since the next fucking thing is HOLY SHIT ANNIE FOUND OUT MISERY IS DEAD THE FUCKING SHIT IS GONNA FLY
It’s like the anxiety of getting a bad report card, but worse.
Pat: It’s exactly like that, but not, so it’s not like that at all.
Andrea: We totally didn’t talk about that Paul made a pamphlet for his friends that was a whimsical story about Misery fucking an Irish setter.
Pat: I somehow missed that completely. Where is that?
Andrea: In the section where she’s berating him about Misery’s death and where he is trying to convince Annie that he didn’t murder Misery, she just died.
Pat: Oh, there it is. I guess my eyes just glaze over when Victorian chicks bang dogs.
After 51 hours without his pain meds, Annie returns from her Laughing Place and won’t give Sheldon his Novril, even though he’s delirious with the pain. She won’t give him the painkillers, that is, until he burns the one and only manuscript of Fast Cars. That’s one hell of a shit sandwich!
Andrea: Notable: The horse race between the King of Pain, the I Got the Hungries, and Pretty Thirsty. That he just starts screaming to the empty house. That is making me shudder right now even in the reread. And of course, the fact that he also realizes he is going through Novril withdrawal. Then, to add insult to injury, he decides to look under the fucking blankets for some reason.
Pat: Give us more about this horse race.
Obviously, Paul is in a shit-ton of pain, so much so that he basically doesn’t even sleep for the whole first day, but then the hunger and thirst get so bad that he can feel them through the pain. And then eventually they catch up until they are just as bad. And just as he begins wishing for death, he realizes he’s feeling withdrawal symptoms as well.
Pat: Very compelling, but you didn’t explain the horse race.
People, the horses are those things she just described. It is a horse race of desires and needs. It’s kind of dumb, honestly.
Andrea: Wah wah wah
Pat: So back to it: the book-burning. Which shall be done, verily, on a portable grill she rolls into Paul’s room. He’s staying on the ground floor, obviously.
Andrea: No! Talk about when he looks under the blanket and sees his pulverized legs
Pat: We already did.
Andrea: Also, he drinks his pee at one point, so, there’s that.
Pat: There is also that.
Andrea: He also pictures Annie’s death a bunch, but then she suddenly returns looking like “a widow who just got fucked after a ten-year dry spell” Then finally, she makes him burn the thing. Which in this age of computers, i found myself thinking, “Wait, really? NO OTHER COPY? Really?”
Pat: This is not a contemporary novel.
Andrea: I know. But the idea was so foreign to me.
Pat: The age of being able to back-up is barely twenty years old. I’ve lost things I only had one copy of.
Andrea: TO ME. THIS IS ME AS A READER APPLYING MY OWN EXPERIENCE TO THE MATERIAL.
AS READERS DO.
Pat: Up until cloud storage start happening, it was still a possibility. Hell, I lost an entire flash drive and everything on it. See also, Wonder Boys.
Andrea: Ha now that you mention it that happened to Rob during his dissertation.
Pat: Yeah, it’s really only been a thing you could very easily not have happen since Dropbox came out.
Andrea: No way, I always emailed a copy to myself in college and whatnot.
Pat: Although, so it doesn’t sound endorse-y, I use Drive now.
Grady Tripp be tripping.
Andrea: I can’t believe Paul called her bluff the first time, and she left for another hour.
Pat: What’s annoying to me is that we’ve had these weird undercurrents of Paul’s memories throwing up bits of praise for his creativity and imagination through his life, and then he can’t come up with a single idea to get out of burning his book.
How about, “If you make me burn this book, I’ll never bring Misery back”?
I don’t think junk-sick is enough of an excuse.
Andrea: I mean, I think Annie is just stronger than he is.
Andrea: Yes. And in a stronger position. She has the upper hand, at least in this point in the book.
Pat: I don’t agree. She’s obsessed with Misery Chastain, and he’s the only one who can bring her back. This is a repeated point of power he consistently refuses to use.
Andrea: That’s true—I didn’t think of him using that at this point, and it’s never addressed, soooooo maybe he just didn’t think of it?
I mean, SK does make a point to show how happily rid of Misery he is.
Pat: The whole creepy mother-analogue she has going throughout the thing is godawful. She thinks she’s helping him not be a dirty birdie.
Andrea: Yes, it’s gross. She compares it to a mother keeping a kid from playing with matches, and the kid thinks she is mean for it.
Pat: Which is weird, since she’s forcing Paul to play with matches. She’s also BLACKED OUT the profanity in the manuscript, like she’s redacting classified information. This lady is bat-shit.
Andrea: To what level do you think Paul is a surrogate SK?
Pat: I really don’t know, because I could never come up with an analogue for Misery.
Andrea: What do you mean?
Pat: For the character, something he would feel likewise tired of. Unless Roland is SK’s Misery.
Andrea: Maybe? I don’t know if there is that tight of an analogue, but I more meant the “writer as put-upon hero who triumphs over adversity” narrative.
Pat: Uh… I mean, what adversity was King overcoming? Success?
Andrea: Drug addiction!
Pat: You’re equating this with a whole addiction thing?
Pat: Like, Annie Wilkes is addiction?
Andrea: I mean, I’m not equating necessarily, just speculating
Pat: And burning this manuscript is drugs and alcohol forcing King to torch what could’ve been a good book?
Andrea: Well sort of—it’s obvious he drew from his own experience as far as withdrawals, etc.
Pat: So maybe this is an allegory about writing Tommyknockers?
Andrea: I don’t think it plays out that neatly, but who knows.
Pat: I don’t know that it’s OBVIOUS. Did he have an addiction to painkillers?
Andrea: Alcohol/cocaine, I believe.
Pat: Here’s what I know about Stephen King’s addiction. He drank and snorted coke. At some point, probably around Tommyknockers, he stopped. Anything beyond that, I don’t know. I don’t think painkiller withdrawal and cocaine withdrawal are comparable, let alone when the guy on the painkillers also has massively mangled legs and the pain that goes with that. ALTHOUGH MAYBE THE LEGS ARE A METAPHOR FOR A CRIPPLE PSYCHE OH SHIT A PULITZER JUST FELL OUT OF THE SKY AND LANDED ON MY HEAD
Andrea: I don’t even know if withdrawal from cocaine is a thing. But the psychological withdrawal would be similar, no?
Pat: He was probably just painting the picture as he imagined it’d be. There may have been a through line, but I don’t really know. As far as the Misery/addiction thing, I’d say… possibly? I really don’t know, but I think that’s probably not a safe assumption to make.
Andrea: I’m glad we had this talk.
Pat: I mean, could look up withdrawal symptoms for both and compare them? I’m guessing painkillers are about a thousand times worse on both the physical and psychological side.
As a present for burning his book, Annie gives Paul his pain meds, and later, brings him two presents from town: a wheelchair and a super bullshit typewriter. He dreams of when and how someone might uncover the remains of his car and come looking for him, and how he might, in the leisure time until his rescue, murder Annie to death. Well, not as much leisure time as you’d think, no no no, because Annie would very much like Paul to write a new Misery novel.
Andrea: She put him in the wheelchair while he was passed out, an illustration of her brute strength. He starts having these elaborate fantasies about his car being found.
Pat: Andrea. Please. I am begging you.
Stop repeating things we’ve already said, unless it’s part of something you want to discuss. Because in my head, it reads like, “She is ignoring the summaries I’m writing here.”
Andrea: No, I am going to discuss it further. In that he pretty much dreams exactly what happens later, except Annie kills the dude that comes to the door.
Pat: They’re not dreams, though, right? He’s doing his magical writer math to figure out the likely ways this might play out. Now that he hasn’t come up with any way to save Fast Cars from incineration, we’re back to being told Paul is the cleverest, most inventive dude ever.
Andrea: Do you have magical writer math?
Pat: If you mean do I constantly envision every possible branch from every possible action in my life, then yes.
Andrea: This is also where he deduces that he basically has six weeks left to live if Annie has the presence of mind to kill him and dispose of the body before the snow melts.
Pat: Back in the good old days when seasons had boundaries. Knew their rightful place.
Andrea: I got a kick out of Annie’s disdain for the antique store lady: “DIVORCED AND NOW SHE’S MARRIED TO A BARTENDER. THAT FUCKING WHORE.”
Pat: “Dartmonger! Her name ought to be Whoremonger.”
Andrea: Which doesn’t even make sense since a whoremonger is a pimp, right?
Pat: I would assume so, although fishmongers don’t generally rent out their fish for an hour at a time. So it might be more of a sex slave trafficker.
Andrea: I need to find a good fishmonger.
Pat: Why am I more comfortable postulating about whoremongers than I am about Stephen King’s addictions?
Andrea: Not to mention about SK’s sex life with Tabitha, which you have comfortably speculated on in the past.
Pat: Yeah, but that’s complete cartoonish speculation.
Here, with Paul incapable of sitting in the wheelchair for long stretches of time writing, you might have reason for some comparison with writing in general, and possibly writing versus addictions. Because he can only do it so long as the painkillers are working, and when it’s gone on too long and they’re presumably wearing off, he has to get the fuck out of that chair.
Andrea: It also incentivizes Annie to keep the meds coming.
Pat: I really, truly, don’t think there’s any point in the book where you can argue that Annie gives enough of a fuck about that sort of logic.
Andrea: True, but she wants Misery to live SO BADLY that she is willing to coddle Paul a little bit.
Pat: But that desire is nowhere near as strong as the desire to be fucking crazy.
Andrea: There is also a lot of writer nerdery in this section. For example, the paper thing.
Pat: I mean, that shit is important. I thought Uni Ball had discontinued my prized non-smear Jetstreams, and I considered cracking the world in half.
Uni Ball: Write Better. www.uniball.com
Andrea: I am not visiting the website for your damn pen.
Pat: I was pretending to be doing an endorsement.
Apparently, they are a Mitsubishi company.
Uni-Ball: Sometimes One Ball Is All You Need.
So I use these Jetstream .7mms, and I couldn’t find the clicky ones, so I bought a cap one, and then I found some clicky ones, but I’m sort of obsessed with the cap one, and I don’t know who I am anymore.
Andrea: Besides a curmudgeonly weirdo, that is.
Pat: Uni-Ball: You Done Los’ Y’Marbles.
People have this outdated idea of me as a curmudgeon, when in fact I like things more than most people do, and ignore the stuff I don’t like unless I can make a good joke out of it.
Andrea: LOL OMG
Pat: I hate you all.
Andrea: YOU ARE CURMUDGEONLY ABOUT THIS PROJECT ALL THE TIME
ALSO ABOUT EVERYTHING
Pat: Again: I’m making fun of your inabilities for comedic effect. That isn’t curmudgeonliness, that’s the gas that drives the engine of Constant Readers. You are the Margaret Dumont to my Groucho Marx.
You are my Annie Wilkes. Without the common sense.
Andrea: Yeah right, I don’t want your stank ass in my living room.
Pat: Or fashion sense.
Andrea: Are you seriously insulting my fashion sense? I just snorted til the cows came home.
Pat: See, this is what I’m talking about. He’s in her guest room. Annie doesn’t want him in her living room either. The prosecution rests. We recommend the full sentence: death by shut up.
Andrea: Soooooo confession: I am picturing Annie’s house as my parents house. I just realized this. Which probably harkens back to the first time I read it. With the bed in the living room when you first walk in.
Pat: Your parents’ house isn’t a one-story.
Andrea: WELL YEAH, that’s why it is a confession, duh.
Pat: Yeah, that isn’t at all right.
Andrea: I’m not good at spatial relations.
Pat: I didn’t occur to me that Paul wasn’t in a second-floor room until he starts rolling around the fucking house, but I think that’s forgivable. BECAUSE AT LEAST I WAS PICTURING HIM IN A ROOM.
Pat: I do not like that she calls him “a silly” for wanting the typewriter turned away when he’s not using it.
Andrea: What is your beef with him being a silly? Although I do support his POV.
This from a woman who was startled into thinking that Maple [the cat] was standing up and wearing clothes a few weeks ago.
Pat: I don’t like anyone using that dumb phraseology in general, but coming from her, it’s a shudder sandwich.
Andrea: I also like the detail about how Annie gets all flattered about him talking inside baseball with her. Any parts where she is inappropriately girlish make her seem even more grotesque.
Pat: “Inside baseball”? Elaborate.
Andrea: Like when he is telling her what a concordance is, and explaining about his process.
Pat: Oh, “inside baseball” is itself insidery speak.
Andrea: I don’t think that’s an uncommon phrase.
Which he needs to take pains to do in a non-condescending way, lest she take off in a snit.
Pat: She doesn’t need his cockadoodie inside baseball.
I bet you would love her breakfast of yogurt and a boiled egg.
I do eat yogurt pretty much every day, but OI have very specific yogurt requirements.
Pat: Yeah, I bet you do.
Not everything in the world is about BJs, Hipp
Pat: I wasn’t specifically talking about beejs. Just yogurt in general.
Paul is ready to resurrect Misery from his new spot by the window, but there’s a problem with the paper Annie bought: it smears. She’ll have to go to town and buy him some new stock, which she’s totally fine with! And that’s when she karate chops one of Paul’s broken-ass legs.
Andrea: This is never not shocking.
Pat: That’s what he gets for trying to trick her. With his cockadoodie paper.
Andrea: You almost get lulled in between her freakouts.
And then BLAMMO.
Pat: Also, this is the first intimation that there is some seriously fucked up shit in her past. But we get nothing more than “Everyone knows Annie Wiles is crazy,” and “They think I got away with it, and they are right.”
Partly so chilling because who the fuck says “they are” instead of “they’re.”
Andrea: She also apparently thinks that writing should not be called a business because it makes whore-business out of his “God-given talent.”
Pat: She is really into whores. She’s basically Mrs. White if she’d never had Carrie.
Andrea: Indeed. So after she karate chopps “the salt dome that was his knee,” she just peaces out.
AND LEAVES HIM IN THE CHAIR.
Pat: Not terribly surprising. That’s the least fucked-up thing about it.
Andrea: The thing she didn’t anticipate—or maybe she does? Is that Paul will summon the inner strength to use the chair to try to get to the pills.
Pat: I don’t know if I like the interior sports commentary going on while he’s rolling around the house looking for Novril and occasionally passing out.
Andrea: Agreed, that’s annoying.
I was totally fooled by the fakeout when he passes out and wakes up to her voice, but it’s a dream.
Pat: This is the first of many times he will jimmy that fucking lock with a hairpin. I don’t know what it is, but you date a girl for a week and your house is infested with bobby pins.
Andrea: It’s true. WAIT WHO ARE YOU DATING FOR A WEEK?
Pat: Sometimes, I’m talking about things in general. Things I know from past experience. It doesn’t mean it is happening RIGHT NOW
GOD DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW TO READ?
Andrea: I thought you were slipping it in, all casual-like.
Pat: That’s what she said.
Andrea: This part was super effective with tension and scarieness. It was a true nailbiter.
Pat: I don’t know if we’ve discussed this, but I hate things where people are in danger of being caught.
Andrea: Yes, agreed. I also don’t like things when people are being embarrassed à la Meet the Parents.
Pat: Not as much as I hate sitcoms where, in the first five minutes, a character does something stupid, and then spends the next 25 minutes doing dumber things to cover up the first thing, until they’re finally found out. But still.
Andrea: The other really cool thing about this part is we get more of a glimpse into the inner workings of Annie Wilkes, through the eyes of Paul, as he sees the rest of her house for the first time.
Pat: “The place smelled musty, unaired, obscurely tired.”
I don’t know what the fuck “obscurely tired” means, but I dig it.
Andrea: Yes. Tired in such a way that you’ve never experienced that sort of tired before? IDK
So then after much pain and hemming and hawing and worrying and shoving, he finally gets into the damn bathroom and there’s nothing in the meds cabinet. BUT THEN OH THEN, he finds a gigantic carton of various drugs just hanging out on the floor.
Pat: It’s on the floor of the closet, isn’t it?
Yes, yes it was.
Andrea: It’s like a “water closet.”
Pat: So no, the version your memory remembers is not believable, which is okay because that’s not how it was written.
Andrea: No toilet.
Pat: It’s a “linen closet.”
Andrea: But medicine cabinet and sink.
Pat: But thank you for playing the home game poorly.
Andrea: But he says there is a medicine cabinet in there
Pat: Okay, so let’s review. You want to know if I think it’s believable that there was a mess o’ pain meds on the floor of this water closet. I say no, it is not believable.
Andrea: The believability I was questioning is whether Annie would be so careless.
Pat: It’s described as a completely normal bathroom, with a tub (where the mop bucket is), a medicine cabinet, toilet, sink, and a linen closet full of meds.
How is it careless, precisely?
Andrea: Because Paul can and does get to it, obviously.
Pat: She’s a recluse. No one visits her house. Paul is wheelchair-bound, and she probably has a good idea that the wheelchair won’t fit through his door.
Andrea: Okay, true. But still, it is the first time there is a crack in her plan I think, one of the first times things don’t go the way she expects.
Pat: Of all the ludicrous circumstance in this book, that she put her stockpile of stolen painkillers in the bottom of her bathroom closet is scientifically at the bottom of the list.
Andrea: What do you think is most ludicrous?
Pat: Well, Mr. Trebek, I’d have to say that the most unconscionable coincidence is the one this book is based on: that Paul Sheldon crashes his car, 1, that he happens to do it when no one knows exactly where he is, 2, that he does it on a road that’s one of the few his most rabid and psychotic fan uses, 3, that no one else comes upon him before she does, 4, meaning he had to be driving on a road that fucking NOBODY USES SO WHERE THE FUCK WAS HE GOING ON IT, 5.
Andrea: *golf clap*
Pat: That shit stretches the anthropic principle to the max.
But back to the other wrong thing you said.
You really think Paul getting out is a “crack in her plan,” that “things don’t go the way she expects”? Based on what we know later about the “ceramic gewgaws” that Paul jostles and tries to put back perfectly, and the piles of pain meds he tries to fuss to make it look like he hasn’t been in there, I have to think she absolutely considered the possibility that Paul would get out and wander around, which was fine because he couldn’t get out of the house or call anyone, and so she either set it up so she’d know if he fucked with things (again, we find out later that that is exactly what she does with her photo album), or else she is just INORDINATELY eagle-eyed.
If we were discussing this chapter-to-chapter, I’d be inclined to agree. But we already finished the book, and we know for a fact that Annie thinks of EVERYTHING. She proves nearly impossible to out-fox.
Andrea: Which makes her even more sadistic than meets the eye, because she is actually kind of setting up traps for him to walk into so she can punish him.
Pat: I don’t think it’s as clear as her trying to punish him. I think she’s distrustful and is making sure she knows if he’s being a cockadoodie sneakypants.
Andrea: One of the few parts of this book that made me laugh: “Get moving, idiot. You have no time to enjoy being stoned.”
Andrea: Super chiller part: When he realizes she doesn’t actually have a phone.
Pat: FUCKING CHRIST MILLER I ALREADY BROUGHT THAT UP.
Andrea: I KNOW YOU BROUGHT IT UP BUT WE DIDN’T DISCUSS YET
Pat: Are you stoned at this very minute?
Andrea: Of course not.
Pat: Apparently I didn’t bring it up.
Sorry about that!
Andrea: OH SNAP IN YOURO FUCKING FACE
I AM DOING A TOUCHDOWN DANCE RIGHT NOW
Pat: So yeah, she keeps up appearances. FOR WHO I DON’T FUCKING KNOW
NO BUT FOR REAL WHAT IS THE GODDAMN POINT?
Andrea: Annie doesn’t have a phone, which leads to his weird fantasy about people calling her and yelling about her being taken all the way to Denver. This revelry is interrupted by a car, so he has to haul ass back to bed. For real, though? If i was him I would have just flung myself on the floor and cried.
Or hell, taken all the damn Novril.
Pat: It’s just a car coming NEAR-ish the house. Which I don’t think he’d fucking hear anyway. And if he threw himself down and it wasn’t her, which is wasn’t, he’d never get back in. And then he’d really have to cry.
Andrea: She just got through the door, and the boxes of Novril are still on his lap
Pat: He plays it off brilliantly, with lots of pathos. And she buys it. Or she doesn’t, but pretends she does.
Andrea: Is there a more nurse thing to say in the world than “your color is very hectic?”
Pat: Yes. “Did you poop real good?”
Andrea: So this section basically raps up when he stuffs the boxes under the mattress and then sleeps for 14 hours. Ominously, it’s snowing. FIN.
Pat: Which of course will further bury his car and signals that the spring thaw isn’t as close as he had hoped.
Andrea: And he notes that he doesn’t care if he dies or gets permanent brain damage from the extra dose of meds.
Part two starts with the first fucking chapter of Misery’s Return. Or Miser’s Return. Whichever.
Pat: I don’t care and I will not discuss or summarize anything from that novel.
Andrea: ALLOW ME.
Pat: Just type “shitbird” about a thousand times. That’ll do it.
This boner Ian is all whimpery, and we find out it’s because Misery didn’t even die even though OMG IT WAS SO CLOSE. They actually use the words “wee bairn.” They make out. Annie is all hot and bothered, but this does not stop her from realizing that this is A CHEAT, PAUL, GAWD.
Pat: Yeah, this whole thing of figuring out that Misery wasn’t really dead at all, and that they had buried her alive but in a bee-stung coma took for fucking EVER. You can’t take that long with shit like that when the audience already knows what’s up. Maybe King was going out of his way to show what complete tripe the Misery books are.
Andrea: Maybe. But then we go into this looooong part that was kind of boring where Annie explains cliffhangers. Paul has to fake interest. I would be so bad at being Paul.
Pat: Well, she’s describing “chapter plays.” Which I believe we would just call serials now.
Andrea: She freaks the fuck out about this one time where Rocket Man goes off the cliff in his car or something and then in the next episode he is back like nothing happened. Sounds like she was a lovely child.
Pat: She’s very into the idea of playing “fair.” A strange concept given what we know about her.
Andrea: True, but it’s a weird pathological fairness bent to her screwy conception of the world.
Pat: That’s what I goddamn meant, you cockadoodie.
Paul realizes that Annie is absolutely right about the first chapter of Return, that he cheated.
Andrea: Yes. And that he knew it all along, but he doesn’t know how to get out of it. Possibly because he’s too doped up to think straight.
Pat: That’s the thing about good criticism. It’s not telling you something you didn’t already know—it’s telling you something you knew on some level and let yourself get away with. The best writers learn how to not stand for their own bullshit.
Paul stares all depressedly at his typewriter for a few days, which he believes is mocking him, and considers the fact that he may need to wean the hell off the massive amounts of Novril he’s taking.
Pat: The part where he’s back to trying to fix that first chapter and is writing lines like, “Misery turned to him, eyes shining, lips murmuring the magic words Oh you numb shithead THIS ISN’T WORKING AT ALL!!!” is exactly the kind of stuff that riddles my notebooks.
Pat: I once circled an entire page and wrote “THIS IS STUPID” in huge, thick letters.
Andrea: OMG, I can’t stop laughing at that for some reason.
So then, in case Annie’s explanation wasn’t enough, we get Paul’s whole mind-trip about why the story was a cheat, with that camp game “Can You?” BS.
At this point, the book started to feel slightly tedious for me.
Pat: I didn’t think so. It had been verging on tedious before, but this is where it started to be okay. It started to seem like this otherwise UNTENABLE tension could sustain itself for an entire novel.
Maybe it’s because of all the writerly insights. The bit about the difference between TRYING TO HAVE AN IDEA and GOTTEN AN IDEA.
Andrea: I like the tension.
Pat: She actually has to stop him once he gets going. Because he has no ability to rein himself in when the juices get flowing.
Andrea: I can mostly do without the writerly stuff, although I will say that it is a neat shift that the tension moves to him trying (and failing) to have an idea.
Pat: Now we have the new first chapter of Misery’s Return, which you can deal with.
There is an unusual scratching in the graveyard. Oh shit, Misery Chastain was buried alive. A bee stung her and it froze her heart or something, but then she came back to life. Why couldn’t this have happened to Macaulay Culkin? Seven chapters of this is a little excessive. but luckily, Annie approves, even if she is hesitant about some of the more gruesome details. Still, she tells him to carry on.
Pat: Explain the weird mother thing that led to this discovery.
Andrea: I can’t remember exactly.
Pat: There was the thing where only ONE OTHER PERSON had ever had this death-like response to a bee sting. And it turns out that she was Misery’s secret mother or what the fuck ever.
Andrea: I can’t tell if he is making direct fun of V.C. Andrews, but it seems like he is. Less incest though.
Pat: I don’t know who that is. The name looks familiar. Maybe I saw it in the Romance shelves when I worked at B&N?
Andrea: Flowers In The Attic.
Pat: Flowers For Algernon?
Andrea: No, Flowers in the Attiic. Kids get poisoned in attic by crazy mom. Bro and sis bang. In later books they are married. She always had secret relatives in her books, and they always had dumb, Misery-esque names.
Pat: This sounds like the inspiration for Game Of Thrones.
Andrea: Perhaps. It was huge in the ’70s/’80s. A new lifetime movie just came out with Kiernan Shipka as the main girl and Heather Graham as the mom.
Through some twist of fate I actually didn’t watch it though.
Pat: Anyway, seven chapters of a novel within a novel is fucking excessive. And you thought I was annoyed by Gordy’s short stories in The Body.
Andrea: I agree. Too much, Paul.
Pat: Why are you blaming Paul? Paul isn’t writing Misery. He’s not the one putting a novel inside of a novel. He probably knows better than to do that.
Andrea: Oh man, I just realized that Annie suggested that the bee sting was the reason for the premature burial.
Pat: “Shall I go on?” he asked.
“I’ll kill you if you don’t!” she responded, smiling a little.
I’m sure only smiling enough to not look like she means it as much as she does.
Andrea: Yeah. Paul finds this unsettling. He also has a little bit of power over her now since she wants to see how the story ends. And since he’s giving her cliffhangers with each chapter.
Someone finally comes to the house, but doesn’t come in. It is a dude from the town, there to tell Annie that her house is in arrears over overdue property taxes, and she is a silly cunt of a woman. Paul tells her how it really is, gets into the everyone-is-against-Annie vibe, and convinces her to let him pay off her back taxes.
Andrea: He also takes this as a worrisome sign that her mental-ness is getting worse. AND plants the seeds of paranoia that they are trying to run her out of town. Which maybe they are.
Pat: And then it’s time to clean up the scuff marks from his last sojourn outside of his room.
I’m a big fan of the sentence, “What the fuck, friends and neighbors.”
Andrea: Agreed. While he’s cleaning, he has freakout because he realizes he’s looking forward to writing Misery’s Return, and compares himself to that dang African bird again.
We skip through three weeks in which Paul Sheldon, noted enjoyer of alcohol and various Controlled Substances, is particularly productive. Of course, he has fuck-all else to do and fuck-all ways to go anywhere. It’s all good. Even Annie is in high spirits. That is, until she is not. The sounds of Annie slapping the shit out of herself, steadily and forcefully, carry across the house to Paul’s room. He still doesn’t know what town he’s wound up in, but he knows what town it ain’t: Funville.
Pat: Hereabouts is where she finds out that Paul can get into the chair on his own, and so she says he can fill in his own fucking ns. Also, she squeezes a rat to death in her bare hands. Yeesus.
Andrea: That is so gross, when she takes her lip and just pulls it out with her nails, and it’s all bloody. HUGE SHUDDER. Plus she’s all nasty and covered with food. UGHHHGHGHHGHGH. That part is so foull.
But possibly even more disturbing is how she is totally zoned out and catatonic.
Pat: I think it’s worse when she opens up about her Laughing Place.
“Sometimes I do laugh when I go there.”
“But mostly I just scream.”
Andrea: Yeah, I don’t really like seeing into Annie Wilkes mind, although for the story it’s super effective and creepy as hell.
Pat: You kind of have to see into her mind. Because Paul has to.
Andrea: I’m not saying I don’t like it, because I really love this book. I’m just saying it’s disturbing as hell.
Pat: We need to know who we’re really dealing with here. So far, we’ve only had glimpses. And if I’m right, when she leaves right after the rat-squishing, that’s when Paul finds out the depths of her madness.
Andrea: Yes, agreed. It’s good that he sees it, because it galvanizes him into action.
Paul’s out of the room again with Annie at her Laughing Place, and he checks all the doors. No such fucking luck. But come on, there are fucking windows. He might be in pain, but if she’s gone for at least a day, he could crawl to someone’s house no problem.
Pat: Especially if it’s a matter of life and death, which of course it is.
Andrea: Do they say where the nearest neighbor is? Pretty far right?
Pat: Far, yeah, but he’s been doing it up with the typewriter curls. He could just heave the fucking thing out the window and then crawl out. Roll his way to freedom. Point is, in his situation, most motherfuckers would get it done because they have no choice.
Andrea: This section contains what is by far the grossest scene in the book—the horrible binge wreckage in the kitchen.
Pat: Please describe for the readership. They’ve earned it.
Andrea: OH GOD. ALL I CAN THINK OF IS GRAVY.
Annie just goes apeshit in her catatonic state and eats everything in the kitchen, then leaves the dishes forever. It stinks, it’s full of ice cream, pie, jello, soda bottles, and, most improbably, a fucking gravy boat that she’s been drinking straight chicken gravy out of. It’s a waking nightmare.
Andrea: And there’s no goddamn silverware.
Pat: Yo, on the real, I love gravy. I would drink it out of a gravy boat. Straight up, no chaser. But even this description of it is beyond the pale.
That’s real talk, Andrea.
Andrea: That’s disgusting. You’re a foul creature.
Pat: You don’t like eggs. You’re a mutant.
Would you like to run down the things Paul finds out by poring over Annie’s scrapbook?
Andrea: 1. Her brother was also named Paul.
2. Annie is 44 and born on April Fool’s Day.
Pat: Oh god, yesterday was Annie Wilkes’ birthday?
Andrea: 3. She set a fucking apartment fire that killed three kids, these brats that she used to babysit for, in a creepy bit of foreshadowing a few chapters ago.
Pat: These brats and the whole family, it should be noted, were also Against Annie. See also: cockadoodie.
Andrea: 4. When she committed said arson, she was 11 years old.
5. She killed her dad by making it look like he tripped over a pile of laundry and fell down the steps. She was 14.
Pat: This is an ongoing theme with her, as the next few items will show.
Other than the theme of “Triflin’ Ass Bitch.”
Andrea: Um, 6. She killed her nursing school roommate pretty much the same way. Except with a dead cat this time. A cat that she poisoned.
7. Then she starts killing old folks at the hospitals she works at. She kills a few at each place and then moves on steadily west.
In Denver she kills one person, and then, 8, gets married.
Pat: She’s a catch, for sure.
Andrea: And then it tapers off until she gets divorced a year and a half later.
Then she kills a SHITLOAD OF PEOPLE.
Pat: It is literally measure in loads of shit.
Andrea: And then, oh Christ, she gets moved to the nursery. And starts killing newborns. Five in two months. Which of course raises suspicion.
Later that year, she’s tried for murder and gets off.
And then kills a hiker. And then the last clipping is of Paul.
Pat: The hiker story is seemingly very similar to what happened to Paul.
Andrea: Even though this is such a classic horror thing—the reveals of all the past crimes à la Blackbeard’s wife finding all his other wives heads—it’s still really effective. I think because he makes her even crazier than you expected with the killing starting when she’s so young and then not just old people, but infants as well.
And the sheer number.
Pat: Man, I didn’t even know about Blackbeard. Are you secretly some sort of pirate story scholar?
Andrea: NO. I think it was in a book I read when I was a kid.
Pat: Here’s the question: so you’ve got these fucking old people kicking off unexpectedly. Although no old person that’s in a hospital could really be said to kick off unexpectedly. And it’s sick, definitely. But it’s not evil.
And then Annie switches to infanticide, and suddenly, it’s like OH SWEET CRUMBS OF JESUS, SHE’S A MONSTER.
Andrea: Well, right. If it was JUST THAT, in some sick way she could be justifying it as that she is an angel-of-mercy figure. While yes, she is taking a human life, there is something more monstrous when it is children.
Pat: Right, although we’re made fairly certain that’s NOT the case. So this all makes me think this absolutely bonkers thought: they say that when an old person dies, it’s like a library has burnt to the ground.
Andrea: Whoa. I never heard that.
Pat: We’ll ignore the fact that you apparently have not been on this planet before.
Pat: In that respect, it’s almost worse than a baby dying, which would be like a Chinese restaurant menu burning up. But then again, the Chinese take-out menu has the potential to grow into a library.
Andrea: Did you just make this up?
Pat: Does it SOUND like something I’ve been pondering very long?
Andrea: Chinese takeout menus are pretty extensive
Pat: I’m going to stop us before we get too deep into this metaphor.
Andrea: It would be more like the Five Guys menu where there’s only a couple choices.
Pat: Five Guys: Tastes Like Infanticide!
This is why we have no sponsors.
Andrea: Oh idk why I didn’t think of this before, do you want to go to Rehoboth with us this summer?
Pat: Sure, even though it sounds like some monster from folklore.
AND AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, THE REHOBOTH ATE THE TOWNSFOLK
Andrea: So Paul reads all the way up to his missing person article, and then he cries a lot.
Pat: Stephen King uses Repetition! It is super effective!
Andrea: Yes! And then he is listening to wolves of mortality howl in the dead of night and resolves that he must kill Annie.
Pat: Here’s some awkward phrasing: “trying desperately hard.”
Andrea: Yeah. That goes directly against SK’s adjective/adverb advice in On Writing.
Pat: Annie is still gone, and her animals are fucking starving and freaked out.
Andrea: This reminds me of the creepiest thing I ever heard about Michael Jackson. Toward the end of his career, he fired most of his staff and the zoo animals at Neverland Ranch just starved.
Pat: I don’t know what to do with that information.
Andrea: Why don’t you try stuffing it?
This cracked me up:
“If animals could talk, Annie, they’d tell you who the real dirty birdie is around here.”
Pat: The true creepiness of Annie’s vernacular is how sickly and sexually repressed old-timey it is. “Dirty birdie.” “Cockadoodie.” You can imagine her telling some burly dude to put his dirty birdie in her cockadoodie butthole.
Andrea: Always with the sexual repression, SK.
Pat: Or maybe I’m alone in feeling that.
Andrea: Cornball alert: He sets part of the Misery book in Africa.
Pat: Wooooooould we call that “cornball”? Or just hokey?
I’m going with hokey.
Andrea: Let us not digress into the intricacies of the difference between cornball and hokey.
Pat: It does pretty successfully conjure up images of really old silent films with stereotypically, anthropologically dubious African scenes.
When he isn’t dreaming of Misery in Africa, Paul fantasizes about how he will kill Annie, although he comes up with no real workable ideas. He’s so tuckered out from all his VIVID IMAGININGS that he dozes off, just in time for Annie to come back and NECK NEEDLE his ass. In the neck, not the ass. For a supposedly clever dude with a super imagination, he sucks at coming up with ways to murder his captor.
Andrea: I like that one of his ideas to kill Annie is to somehow mount the typewriter over the door so it hits her in the head.
Pat: How about taking a screw out of the bed or desk or chair or something and jamming it in her fucking neck? How about THAT happy-crappy?
Andrea: Maybe he was watching Home Alone.
I mean, my big idea was to smack her in the head with the typewriter, but I guess that would be unwieldy.
Pat: It’s MASSIVELY heavy, dude.
Andrea: SO then after she returns and she’s just sitting there having a chat with him with matches in her hand, it comes out that she got rid of his car.
Pat: But first! She tells him what lovely blue eyes he has.
She’s gotten rid of the car, which was one of the few strands of hope he was clinging to, and she mentions the dirty hippie hitchhiker by name, and she reveals that she knows he read her scrapbook. Game over, man. GAME OVER.
Andrea: BUT she says that she’s still going to let him finish the book so he knows she is not planning to kill him, just punish him which is obviously way worse.
Pat: And she’s knows he’s been getting out of his room. She’s known for a while, and she still just let it happen. Which is fucking creepy because she had no fear that he’d get out of the house.
So even that little triumph of his was only at her whim.
Andrea: Then she frigging evokes God who she thinks is on her side apparently. She uses the old string across the doorway trick which I assumed only works in cartoons.
Pat: We also learn that Pomeroy the Hitchhiker was banging Annie. Double shudder with cheese.
“You killed him,” Paul said…
“Well, I guess it was something like that. I don’t remember very well. Just when he was dead. I remember that. I remember giving him a bath.”
WHAT THE SWEET TEA CHRIST
Andrea: Obviously Annie is seriously mentally ill, but there’s not really any speculation here about what her specific diagnosis is. Just good old fashioned crazy.
Pat: I think psychotic is a good bet. Dissociative? She has fucking fugue states where she kills people and self-harms and whatnot.
Is “batso” in the DSM?
Andrea: One of the most disturbing things in this section is that she uses the word “lovers.”
Pat: Yeah, what the fuck is it with that word and the people who use it?
Andrea: Also, “I washed… well… what was left of him.” It immediately evokes hairy Will Ferrell in the hot tub in that SNL sketch.
Pat: And the ones who do seem to use it like it’s some badge of sexual courage, when the truth is, saying “We were fucking” is a bit more sexually liberated.
Y’all weren’t loving, you were fucking.
And if you were making love casually, you’re dorkholes.
Andrea: Do you watch Mad Men?
Pat: I would more say that I suffer it.
Andrea: Did you see the new one?
Andrea: So, I imagine that Roger and his orgy crew use the word “lover.” That is all.
Pat: Yeah, well, they’re dickholes.
Annie refers to her being sneaky about knowing Paul was getting out of his room by saying, “What a fooler I am.” Which, come on. If the situations were reversed, she’d call Paul all manner of ’50s oaths for being a sneak.
Andrea: OMG. THAT MADE MY SKIN CRAWL.
King’s use of weird language for Annie is pretty ingenious.
Pat: She can do no wrong, and everyone else can do no right.
The whole conversation is pretty calm throughout, until he’s like, bitch, you left me to suffer and starve. And then it’s full-tilt crazy-pants. She thinks he got into the fucking SHED. The SHED, Andrea!
Andrea: I KNOW! The other weird thing is that he’s stoned and laughing the whole time. Which I guess is preferable to not being stoned in this situation.
Pat: It’s a fucking weird counterpoint, but it works.
She’s so insanely calculating in this part. Well, all over the book. She’s losing her mind over him getting upstairs and into the shed and all these delusional things, then circles back around to how many times he left, and for what. And then’s she like, SO WHAT ABOUT THIS BUTCHER KNIFE, CAPTAIN COWLICK?
Andrea: She also just casually throws out that she gave him a “pre-op shot.”
Pat: Yeah, and he goes into what I can only call a “Survivor Type” mental spiral.
THEY TASTE LIKE LADYFINGERS
“Because the principle doesn’t change if you were out seven times, or seventy, or seventy times seven. The principle doesn’t change, and neither does the response.”
This is like, the scene everyone remembers from the movie. Even though I love the movie, the book is way more effective because you get her weird logic and crazy.
Pat: This is a real Shining moment, but in reverse. I was expecting what the movie taught me to expect: that Annie was about to put a piece of wood between his legs or whatever and bash his legs in with a sledgehammer.
Pat: Because in the movie, she doesn’t just axe off his foot, does she?
Andrea: No, she just shatters his legs again. Maybe it was easier to film? Not sure why they changed it.
Pat: This… this was surprising. Actually, truly, surprising. And almost too horrifying, partly because she gives no indication what she’s about to do. She could do anything. And then it just comes all at once.
Andrea: A-ha! After refusing to speak about his motivations for writing Misery for two decades, Stephen King finally came out and stated that it is indeed about his battle with substance abuse. Kathy Bates’ character is a representation of his dependency on drugs and what it did to his body – making him feel alone, separated from everything, while hobbling any attempts he made at escape. In his statement he said he didn’t come out with it at the time because he wasn’t ready and because he was afraid it would detract from the story.
Didn’t I say earlier that I thought that was what is was about?
Pat: You say that about literally EVERYTHING.
“Don’t worry. I’m a trained nurse.” BITCH YOU’RE DOING SURGERY.
Andrea: Not only does she cut off his legs, she cauterizes the stumps, which reminds Paul of a pig roast on his honeymoon.
Pat: Sorry, his “legs”?
She chops off his foot. That’s it.
Andrea: In the original idea for the novel “Misery”, Annie planned to kill Paul Sheldon by feeding him to Misery the Pig, and take his skin to bind the book he’s written. The title would have been The Annie Wilkes 1st Edition.
Pat: Well, that’s dumb. That’s a dumb idea.
Andrea: Okay, apparently it was changed for the movie so there wouldn’t be as much gore.
Pat: She doesn’t chop off his legs in the movie either.
Andrea: Also, they filmed but cut the scene where Annie runs over the cop with a lawnmower.
Pat: What are you TALKING about?
Andrea: THEY MADE IT A SLEDGEHAMMER IN THE MOVIE
SO THERE WOULDN’T BE AS MUCH GORE
Pat: Would you get off of Wikipedia and return to the conversation?
It’s like talking to an Alzheimer’s patient.
Andrea: I WAS RESEARCHING ABOUT SOMETHING WE WERE DISCUSSINNG
Pat: You were distracted after the one question I asked, and then ignored everything I wrote after because you are the WORST.
I do not understand why Paul didn’t try to leverage his way out of losing the foot.
“You take my foot, I’ll never finish the novel. You’ll have to kill me.”
Something like that.
Andrea: I assume because she would just torture him into writing it anyway. It’s not like she’s gonna say “Oh, okay,” and kill him quickly.
Pat: She might have. The point is, in that situation, you would try anything. Say anything. And he just kind of gibbered and screamed.
Andrea: Do you think it would have been more effective if he had bargained?
Pat: If he had at least TRIED, yeah.
Andrea: I don’t know. I think it was a pretty realistic reaction of someone in his situation to fucking just panic.
His toes were still spasming when she picked up his foot to get rid of it.
Finally, Part III. The denouement approaches. And if you thought the excerpts from Miser’s Return couldn’t get any worse, now they’re missing the n’s.
Andrea: APPARENTLY SK really had a typewriter missing the n’s.
Pat: This is an important lesson, kids, in that personal details do not necessarily translate to interesting story details.
Especially when you are actually leaving them out.
Pat: Also, don’t fucking put excerpts from fictional books in your book.
Just don’t. Please.
It’s not as effective as you think.
Andrea: Unless they are awesome.
Pat: Name one time it was ever awesome.
Andrea: I sort of liked the part in that one book about the Mexican kid who hated his family.
Pat: …whut. I don’t remember it, so it must not’ve been that good.
Andrea: That might not have even been SK. My brain is addled.
Pat: Jesus Christ, woman.
So the big development here is that Paul’s typewriter has now lost its E.
Andrea: I just totally skipped the parts with the missing letters.
Pat: You’re the one who’s supposed to summarize the novel excerpts because I refuse to read them twice.
Andrea: Also, the Misery-as-bee-goddess thing was stupid.
Pat: He’s completely cowed now, by the way, and won’t even bother Annie with the continuing disintegration of his typewriter. All because of the axing.
Because writers remember everything, Paul. Especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels, not amnesia. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is that ability to remember the story of every scar.
Andrea: That harkens back to when he noticed the scar on his severed foot from when he stepped on a piece of glass as a kid.
Andrea: So this part, where he drifts into his memories to try to figure out how to end the book/get free is pretty tedious.
Pat: I mean, look, it’s a constant failing of his. Dickens was worse. At some point, we become the assholes for having unrealistic expectations of King.
But yeah, it’s not great. I scanned very quickly through the passages from Miser’s Return.
Andrea: It’s interesting how Annie’s hobbling of him even scares her a little bit. Like, this is the furthest she’s ever pushed anyone.
Pat: It’s a little less tedious for me because I get a little validation out of seeing another writer’s mental processes.
Pat: There is, I think, a certain degree to which… wait, that is an awful sentence. Let me restart.
Andrea: I mean, parts of it are interesting, like when he talks about “the gotta.”
Pat: You can tell throughout the book that Annie is aware of her fugue states, her black-out rages, and that she’s kind of snowing over it in her head because they scare her, because the last thing she wants to be is cockadoodie.
Andrea: I like how he just casually drops in at the beginning of the next chapter, “One day not long before the thumbectomy.”
Pat: Which, let’s be honest, is a weird way to start a section about having sundaes.
Andrea: “When Annie’s treatin’, you best be eatin'”
Pat: Sundaes, then madness again.
She wants him to tell her the rest of the story. Which is just not how writing works.
Andrea: She gets all thunder-cloudy pissed, but he manages to talk her out of it.
Pat: But not before she tosses out the book’s first and only use of “nigger.”
Andrea: Context please.
Pat: She wants to know if that “nigger Hezekiah” really knew about Misery’s father or some such. She actually apologizes in the end!
Annie gets all crazy again and cuts off Paul’s thumb, which is kinda glossed over in comparison to the foot, but she USES AN ELECTRIC KNIFE. And then she makes him a damn birthday cake, like you do. Both Annie and Paul are losing their damn shit.
Pat: But first, the arduous story of Mrs. Roman D. Sandpiper turning her house into a Misery theme park.
Andrea: Oh god, that part was boring.
Pat: We don’t even really get an explanation of why she took his finger, do we? We’re just left to assume it was because he had refused to tell her what was going to happen in the story before he wrote it.
OH GOD THE THUMB IS IN THE CAKE WTF
This was like a weird surreal nightmare.
Pat: It was a nightmare. Wasn’t it?
Andrea: Yes, to which he wakes up from to see a Colorado police car outside.
Pat: And he’s so cowed he won’t even scream, the pansy. And when he does muster the courage, he screams, “AFRICA!” like he’s writing a fucking Toto song.
Andrea: Enough with the Africa thing, SK.
Pat: And she takes the cross from the grave of one of her cows and impales the trooper in the back. Wheeeee!
Andrea: Before he dies, he yells, “OH SHIT IT’S YOU!” to add insult to injury.
Pat: She just… she just keeps pulling the cross out and then ramming it back in. Ass, legs, crotch. Jesus.
And yet, this dude is still alive! But then what happens, Andrea? Because Annie has walked away again.
Andrea: Even though he’s still alive, he doesn’t manage to shoot her before she runs him over several times with a goddamned lawnmower.
Pat: Right. over. his. head.
Again, just out of mortal fear, you’d think he’d get one shot off. But like Paul the Amputation Appeaser, no dice.
“You bitch,” he said.
“Crazy bitch, isn’t that right?” she asked, still smiling.
“Oh yeah—you’re crazy,” he said.
“Well, we’ll have to talk about that, won’t we. When I have more time. We’ll have to talk about that a lot. But right now I’m very busy, as I think you can see.”
At least it’s out there now, Paul! And good thing she’s busy scooping the dead trooper’s bits up into green garbage bags!
The other gross part is when it talks about how she buried the dead cow.
Pat: Please to describe.
Andrea: Um, she chained it to her tractor and dumped it in the grave. It came apart in half.
Pat: So, when she comes back to his room after dragging the trooper’s body into the cellar: “She went behind him and propelled him across the room, out the door, and down the hall.”
Sorry, she just kicked his wheelchair out of the room when a few months ago it was such a tight squeeze it left scuff marks? Is the wheelchair losing weight in its captivity?
Andrea: I do not know. Totes don’t care about this kind of minutiae.
Pat: You have a tiny brain.
Andrea: Also, propelled doesn’t mean she let go of it. She might have been running with it.
Pat: Still, unlikely.
Andrea: Wilkes is a mythical beast. She do what she want.
Pat: So then! Annie decides it’d be a good time to relocation Paul to her cellar, because she can get market rate for that room he’s been hogging all those months. Paul has a roommate! The dead state trooper!
Andrea: Who he is envious of because he escaped Annie, even though he’s all dead and chopped up.
Pat: “You must think Annie’s in a real poopie-doopie mood today.”
She also tells him he’s lucky she didn’t cut off his “man-gland.” Which: the penis isn’t a gland, is it?
So she must mean testicles. But then why wasn’t it “man-glands”?
To which Andrea replied, “I don’t care about that kind of minutia. My brain is the size of a pea!”
Andrea: You would think that someone so repressed wouldn’t go into a field where she is exposed to man-glands all the live-long day
Pat: And cockadoodie.
So Annie is off to ditch the trooper’s car and body near her Laughing Place, with a diabolical Pepsi bottle tossed out along the way to corroborate her story that he was there, took a Pepsi, and left. She’s gonna bike back from her Laughing Place because she desperately needs the exercise and to give Paulie Boy some time to think about What He’s Done. She can’t even leave a light on for him to write by! This is bullshit!
Andrea: How far is the Laughing Place?
Pat: Who knows. I thought you didn’t care for minutia?
Andrea: I wanna know if it is plausible that she is biking back.
Pat: Clearly it is. It’s in the book.
Andrea: I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOVE IS
I WANT YOU TO SHOW ME
Pat: “You’re going to have to write faster, Paul.”
Andrea: Ugh, and she shows him the gun loaded with three bullets in case anyone else shows up. Things are not looking good for Paul.
Pat: “Either way, it’s almost over, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Paul said. “Almost over.”
Andrea: She has meticulously planned out her strategy for when the cops come back, down to leaving a note in the fence saying she’s at an antique fair.
Pat: Here’s a fun fact: the bike is a motorcycle.
Andrea: She also refers to the people she murdered as “brats.”
Pat: She calls him a brat, too, because he’s annoyed she won’t leave him paper to write with or matches to see, etc.
Andrea: a;lsdkjfa;lskdjf the rats the spiders UGH
I don’t even like my own basement in the daytime with no Annie Wilkes.
We are saved from another chapter of Miser’s Return mid-stroke by another approaching car, which we are doubly thankful for because it was fucking printed in its ORIGINAL LONGHAND. The two troopers come and go, and Annie is shocked—shocked!—to find that Paul doesn’t make a sound.And then a news crew shows up, and Annie offers to give a comment on the vanished trooper with her double-aught shotgun! And later she digs furrows in her forehead with her fingers to indicate that everyone wants blood from her. Hooooooboy.
Andrea: Low point of the book: when Paul tells Annie that the manuscript is going to be “very hot stuff.”
Pat: Yeah, that is some fucking cornball shit right there. Annie also tells the news crew that she doesn’t care if they’re Johnny Q. Jesus Johnnycake Christ. Which, come on, don’t give your kid “Johnnycake” as a middle name if his first name is “Johnny.” Or at all.
Then some local police come by. And some gawkers are showing up at her house as well. It’s not really clear why. Things drag on, and Paul asks if he could possibly have a cigarette when he’s finished the manuscript, which Annie says is something Don’t Bees do.
Pat: Shades of Mort from Drawing Of The THree.
Andrea: OMG Don’t Bees. WTF Annie? What a weirdo.
On THE SPECIAL DAY, Annie brings Paul caviar, and here it comes: Paul burns the manuscript with the one match Annie gave him for his one cigarette. While she watches. Predictably, she reaches for the burning manuscript, and Paul reaches for the typewriter, which he is explicably able to throw at Annie’s back. She falls onto the burning manuscript! Hahaha! Paul hops on for a quick ride on the Annie Wilkes mechanical bull, and then he starts jamming burning paper into her mouth.
Andrea: The burning paper bit is pretty fucking cool.
Pat: After all that, the bitch still manages to get to her fucking feet. Unbelievable.
Then she falls, hits her head on the mantel. But then she opens her eyes again and gets to her feet.
I mean, come on, Annie.
They struggle, she falls limp again, he closes the door, her fingers start grabbing under it, then go limp again. I mean, fucking hell.
AND THEN HE FALLS ASLEEP
PAUL, GET A GRIP
Andrea: Stupid Paul fell asleep at the worst moments throughout this book. He wakes up and starts freaking out that she isn’t really dead.
Pat: This whole is-she-still-alive thing was nerve-wracking.
Andrea: I was just gonna say that. Even though we know she isn’t, when he’s creeping through the dark house thinking of all the places that she could be…
Pat: I certainly didn’t know for sure at that point.
Andrea: I just looked over my shoulder in my office. My desk backs right up to the wall.
Pat: That bitch just would not die.
Andrea: After all that, the last couple chapters seem kind of compulsory.
Pat: Very much so.
The two state troopers from way-back return, find Paul tooling around the house. He tells them what the fuck’s been up, and they go to check Paul’s room for Annie. THEY FIND NO ANNIE.
Pat: Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Perhaps she’d been hid by a smooth criminal.
Andrea: I kinda wanna listen to that song now.
So, it’s over: Paul’s book—surprise! he didn’t burn the real manuscript!—is fast-tracked for publication, his legs have been re-broken and re-set, he’s got a limp, he’s drinking constantly and writing little, and he thinks Annie is going to show up constantly. We get a false ending where she totally does, and Annie chops his head off, and it rolls away. BUT PSYCH GUYS, she’s really dead, which is Good Fucking News because she died after having crawled out of Paul’s window and made it all the way to the shed, where she died clutching the chainsaw she was about to end Paul with.
Paul discovers he still has it in him, despite all the pain and booze and pain pills. We are meant to understand that A WRITER’S NEED TO WRITE does not care if you’re ready or willing! Or drunk! Or are missing a foot and a thumb!
Andrea: As a writer, did you buy that?
Pat: I do and I don’t. The URGE is constant, sure. It’s maddening. But if that all had happened to me, I’d have no problem not bowing to it for a good long while.
I’m good at avoiding it even when I’m just tired.
Andrea: I felt so bad for Paul in the end. Even though he escaped, this was by no means a happy ending.
Pat: Nope. His entire life is wrecked. And he still joneses for the Novril.
All in all, a good book. Surprisingly good. I don’t know if the surprising goodness changed what I would think about it if it hadn’t SEEMED like it was going to be so fucking dull based on the premise.
I probably won’t ever re-read it.
Andrea: I like it a lot. It also has the distinction of one of the best ever SK movies.
Pat: I haven’t seen the movie is years. I may have never seen it all the way through. You know how I am with gory stuff.
Andrea: It’s actually not at all gory. Except for that one scene, and I’m pretty sure they don’t actually show much.
Pat: Is that it? Are we done discussing?
Andrea: I think so.
Pat: But… there has to be other stuff to discuss about this book.
Andrea: Nope, that’s it.
Pat: But… I don’t want to read Tommyknockers.
Andrea: Well, you’re going to cockadoodie have to, Paul.