The Shining

The Shining

5 out of 5 Bloody Roque Mallets

5 out of 5 Bloody Roque Mallets

 

StephenKing.com Synopsis: Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and their young son Danny move into the Overlook Hotel, where Jack has been hired as the winter caretaker. Cut off from civilization for months, Jack hopes to battle alcoholism and uncontrolled rage while writing a play. Evil forces residing in the Overlook – which has a long and violent history – covet young Danny for his precognitive powers and exploit Jack’s weaknesses to try to claim the boy.

 

PART ONE

The Shining  First Edition Hardcover

The Shining First Edition Hardcover

It's nearly cliche that artists who finally get money and fame lose their edge. When poverty and fear of failure is removed from the equation they simply can’t produce at the level and with the intensity that made them successful in the first place. Stephen King is perhaps the exception that proves the rule.

It can hardly be argued that when he sat down to complete The Shining as his third publication in as many years with Doubleday Stephen King was on his way to becoming a wealthy man. His official publishing career may have only been two years old at that point, but it already included two smash hits and a legitimate Hollywood movie adaptation in the can and set for release. This could have easily been the point when King took the foot off the pedal a little and took stock of what he’d achieved so far. Surely, with a movie and book of short stories on the way, audiences could wait another year or two for a follow-up.

Instead, money and relative fame seemed to open something inside of him, seemed to boot up a kind of nightmare factory that worked round the clock, including the night shift. If ‘Salem’s Lot and Carrie had been down payments on the genius of Stephen King, then The Shining was the whole damn note paid in full. What he handed over to our collective nightmarescape in the fall of 1977 was nothing short of a horror masterpiece, filled to the brim with scares aplenty, and something wholly new to the King canon...pathos. It proved that King was capable of not only writing a ripping yarn, but also grounding his horror in the traumas of real life. The Shining is not the tale of a haunted hotel; it’s a story about addiction, familial dysfunction, spousal abuse, and ultimately, improbably, forgiveness. That the main action takes place in the Overlook is irrelevant, really; The Shining could have been set in any neighborhood in the US. Alcoholism and abuse don’t require ghosts to be terrifying.

Yet, the fact that King chose to populate The Shining with such a memorable cast of creepy-crawlies says a lot about the author’s state of mind at the time. He wrote a surprisingly gripping foreword to Night Shift (the book that followed The Shining), and one can't help but think King was writing about The Shining in the following passage:

"...the subjects of death and fear are not the horror writer's exclusive province. Plenty of so-called 'mainstream' writers have dealt with these themes, and in a variety of different ways - from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment to Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer stories. Fear has always been big. Death has always been big. They are two of the human constants. But only the writer of horror and the supernatural gives the reader such an opportunity for total identification and catharsis. Those working in the genre with even the faintest understanding of what they are doing know that the entire field of horror and the supernatural is a kind of filter screen between the conscious and the subconscious; horror fiction is like a central subway station in the human psyche between the blue line of what we can safely internalize and the red line of what we need to get rid of in some way or another.

When you read horror, you don't really believe what you read. You don't believe in vampires, werewolves, trucks that suddenly start up and drive themselves. The horrors that we all do believe in are of the sort that Dostoyevsky and Albee and MacDonald write about: hate, alienation, growing lovelessly old, tottering out into a hostile world on the unsteady legs of adolescence. We are, in our real everyday worlds, often like the masks of Comedy and Tragedy, grinning on the outside, grimacing on the inside. There's a central switching point somewhere inside, a transformer, maybe, where the wires leading from those two masks connect. And that is the place where the horror story so often hits home.

The horror-story writer is not so different from the Welsh sin-eater, who was supposed to take upon himself the sins of the dear departed by partaking of the dear departed's food. The tale of monstrosity and terror is a basket loosely packed with phobias; when the writer passes by, you take one of his imaginary horrors out of the basket and put one of your real ones in - at least for a time."


The Shining was a massive leap forward for King, and the horror genre as a whole. It signaled the next phase of his career, as he tried to hold tight to the tail of the rabid tiger he’d grabbed somewhere around 1975, eventually taking us all on a decades-long journey that would include some of the greatest monsters of all time.

And it all began with the Overlook Hotel, the first of King’s pantheon of memorable baddies, and perhaps the most unsettling. Through the Overlook, King takes the concept of home and flips it on its head. The Overlook may not be the Torrance’s home per se, but it represents a new start, a place to heal and grow closer together, a place to call their own if only for a few months. That this new home turns so violently against them shows that while home may be where the heart is, it can also be where the pain and trauma of life hides as well. After-all, as the saying goes, wherever you go, there you are. The trauma was already there, hiding in plain sight within the Torrance’s stained marriage. The Overlook simply had to tease it out, wind them up, and watch the drama unfold.

And here is where we see King’s theory of horror at play. The Shining offers the audience a boogeyman, an external metaphor for the trauma of alcoholism and abuse, and a handy catalyst for the violence that unfolds. Real life is filled with lots of alcoholic fathers, plenty of abused wives and kids, plenty of murder, violence, and carnage, but the Overlook gives us something to blame it on. King takes great pains to remind the audience that Jack isn’t the one trying to kill his family. It’s the hotel. It's a haunted hotel as a metaphor for every howling drunken father looking for some external explanation for their wounded families, anything but the beast inside.

The Overlook is not, strictly speaking, necessary, but it makes for a damn good fairytale villain, and by embedding the medicine of this novel in so much tasty genre sugar, King created an instant classic. The Shining is the definitive haunted house story for our modern times, a story as ravaged by the trauma of abuse as by ghosts. The Shining is, in the end, a story about family, and for many that’s the most horrifying place of all.

 

PART TWO

The main character of The Shining is Jack Torrance and he is a writer. Or so we’re told repeatedly. By now, fans of Stephen King have simply accepted that his multiverse is populated by an unlikely number of writers. Nearly every major King novel has at least one fledgling or published author. Ben Mears, Jack Torrance, Bill Denbrough, Thad Beaumont, Paul Sheldon. The list of writers in King's work is practically as long as his publication list.

On the one hand, this is hardly surprising. After-all the most central tenet of writing is to write what you know, and Stephen King has only ever been a writer. His biography reads like the human equivalent of the Ursula K. Le Guin quote:

"When people say, Did you always want to be a writer?, I have to say no! I always was a writer."

Any thought of being something else, was barely entertained, and from all accounts Stephen King really wasn't all that great at anything other than being a writer. So maybe the author we should really be quoting is Russell Baker:

"The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any."

Stephen King was, and always has been, a writer, and he loves to write about them, dissect them, try to figure out what makes them tick. He's written some truly great ones too (Bill Denbrough, Gordie Lachance, and Paul Sheldon come to mind), which is why I found Jack Torrance's poorly-written writerly life so strange. 

BOOK COVERS

We're meant to believe that Jack Torrance is a writer, dedicated to his craft, mildly talented and able to walk in borderline high brow society. After-all, when we join him at the start of The Shining, he's published short stories, has an agent waiting on his unwritten play, and has a teaching job at a prep school in Vermont. It may have had the contours of Stephen King's pre-Carrie life (the teaching job, small published works, etc.), but King never gives Jack the love of writing that so many writers, including King, have. Jack doesn't ever seem to think about writing much, his dancing between short stories and novels and plays seems an odd choice, since nothing about Jack's past life suggests an interest in the theater, and more than anything he never seems to show much aptitude for it. 

It would be easier to chalk this up to a young writer writing about writing for the first time, except it wasn't. The main character of his previous novel, Ben Mears, is a writer, and a far more believable one than Torrance. In fact, one could argue that all four of King's first books are about writers: Carrie is largely written in the first person, Ben Mears is the main character in 'Salem's Lot, and Rage is told as a confessional from the viewpoint of the main character. So, by the time King sat down to write Jack Torrance, he not only had a ton of direct experience writing writers, but he also was fresh off the surprising whirlwind of going from "zero to hero." Just two years before sitting down to write The Shining, King had been literally battering out Carrie page by page on his trailer toilet, his typewriter balanced on his knees. King knew the struggle, viscerally.

So why is Jack Torrance such a limp writer, then?

The most obvious answer is that Jack's alcoholism is actually the defining trait of his character, and writing was merely his occupation. King could have just as easily made Jack a drunken barber who needed to get away and get clean. In some respects a more salt of the earth profession would have made him a better character since it would have gone a long way toward explaining how he can reshingle a roof, take care of a boiler, and perform elevator maintenance. That's a surprising array of handyman skills for a college-educated, prep-school teaching playwright. 

But, if you chalk Jack's writing career to a literal case of King just "writing what he knows," and focus on Jack's alcoholism as his defining trait, then the book makes a lot more sense, and the character of Jack Torrance is far less frustrating. After-all, not barely a page goes by without Jack thinking about alcohol, whether from regret or desire, and that's the sort of obsession a writer has for the written word. Jack thinks about writing far, far less than drinking, and it's really only once he discovers the scrapbook in the basement that he starts to show anything resembling fire for his writing. Even that spark is shortly drowned out, though, by the rising action of the novel, as fear, regret, mistrust, and violence overwhelm Jack's nascent history book. Even when he cares, he just doesn't care enough to be believable.

Unfortunately, there's no way around it. Jack Torrance is one of the least believable writer characters King has ever written.

 

PART THREE

The Shining was the first of King’s books started and completed after the success of Carrie, and it’s the first with its genesis rooted firmly in new experiences. Carrie was a rush job attempting to silence critics of his supposed misogyny. ‘Salem’s Lot was an idea he’d had percolating for years, and Rage was started when he was in high school. But The Shining found its origin when King and his wife, Tabitha went away to an old stately hotel in the Colorado mountains so that King could clear his head and find inspiration in a new climate. Inspiration he found aplenty in the supposedly haunted hotel, and the slightly creepy room 217. Yet, like the book’s main character, most of the true inspiration for the book King took with him to the hotel. As a father of three young kids, a growing but hardly secure literary career, and the beginnings of what would become a decade long battle with alcoholism, the Stephen King of 1976 bears more than a little resemblance to Jack Torrance. And it’s the autobiographical nature of The Shining that gives the novel so much of its punch.

Whether he saw it at the time or not, The Shining plays like a literal projection of the worst case trajectory or King’s life at the time. Sometimes he drank too much, and he had a job that allowed him to drink during the day. He must have been terrified that his newfound fame could disappear as quickly as it’d come. And above all he had three young children hanging around, and King himself as stated that some of the inspiration for The Shining was his experience with the frustrations of young parenthood. He didn’t need to have broken Owen’s arm for his subconscious to put the piece of his life into an order that adds up to Jack Torrance.

King himself has stated as much:

"Sometimes you confess. You always hide what you're confessing to. That's one of the reasons why you make up the story. When I wrote The Shining, for instance, the protagonist of The Shining is a man who has broken his son's arm, who has a history of child beating, who is beaten himself. And as a young father with two children, I was horrified by my occasional feelings of real antagonism toward my children. Won't you ever stop? Won't you ever go to bed? And time has given me the idea that probably there are a lot of young fathers and young mothers both who feel very angry, who have angry feelings toward their children. But as somebody who has been raised with the idea that father knows best and Ward Cleaver on 'Leave It To Beaver,' and all this stuff, I would think to myself, Oh, if he doesn't shut up, if he doesn't shut up... So when I wrote this book I wrote a lot of that down and tried to get it out of my system, but it was also a confession. Yes, there are times when I felt very angry toward my children and have even felt as though I could hurt them. Well, my kids are older now. Naomi is fifteen and Joey is thirteen and Owen is eight, and they're all super kids, and I don't think I've laid a hand on one of my kids in probably seven years, but there was a time..."

THE MOVIE

This is probably why the character seems so uncomfortably visceral. The reader spends a great deal of time inside of Jack’s head, and no matter how dark things get, King does a masterful job of justifying Jack’s thought process, even as he actively subverts it by showing us Wendy and Danny’s “outsider” perspectives. Jack struggles violently with his anger and alcoholism, and King takes us along for the unhappy ride, showing us what that fight looks like from the inside. He may literalize Jack’s demons in the third act, but those physical haunts only pack a punch because of the first two acts, where we see how tenuously Jack is grasping at sobriety. We know he shouldn’t be in that hotel, and so do Wendy and Danny, but we also know that he can’t leave, that too much of his pride and self-worth is tied to succeeding through the winter. The fact that he’s doing this for his family, sincerely so, makes the horror of his unraveling all the more tragic. From the moment Jack decides to take the job at the Overlook, he has no more choice in the matter. He’s a pawn, and all he can do is play the role appointed him.

Perhaps King felt that way himself, or perhaps he sensed something of his future, but to a greater or lesser degree Stephen King was writing an alternate version of himself in Jack Torrance. Oddly enough, if he’d only heeded the lesson from his own book maybe King would have had a better time in the 1980s. Of course, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten books like Misery or It or Cujo, and purely from a fan’s perspective, I’d say everything worked out.

***

When news of Chris Cornell’s suicide started making the social rounds, most news stories were accompanied by quotes from friends saying they were shocked he’d taken his own life. They said that the last time they’d spoken with him he’d seemed in good spirits and was excited about the tour and making new music. This is a common refrain in the wake of suicide, the shock that someone could seem so happy one day and then take their own life the next. It’s counterintuitive, goes against our common perception of depression and hopelessness as a black cloud that hangs over someone, that can be seen and felt.

David Foster Wallace said it best in his ode to depression and drug dependence, Infinite Jest:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

Suicidal depression isn’t a black cloud hanging over someone, it’s a fire inside, which grows and grows until there is no choice but to jump. That those around them rarely see the fire is a testament to that person’s strength and to the immense societal pressure to always “appear normal.”

And drugs just make the fire worse. They make it harder to accept the fire and live with it. They make it harder to keep perspective on living with the fire, and they make it easier to make rash decisions, to consider and follow through with things that might have seemed unthinkable in the sober hours. That drugs and alcohol are so often an ingredient in the suicide recipe should come as no surprise. Many drugs, especially alcohol, are depressants, keys to unlocking the darkest thoughts in one’s psyche. And to someone already battling the fire, alcohol can be like opening the door to a backdraft. It can make decisions black and white, come or go, stay or jump.

Make no mistake, Jack Torrance is a struggling alcoholic suicide, and King gives us a front row seat to the thought process that leads so many to take their own lives. As Jack stands in the shed, with the spark plugs to the snowmobile in his hand, struggling against the shitty cards life has dealt him, he is incapable of seeing the gray in his situation. He only considers the downside of leaving, and the positives of staying, projecting his present into the future until he can see no their option than sticking out their disastrous winter accommodations. It never occurs to him that nothing about either future is a given, and that the safety and well-being of his family should be his top priority. It’s the logic of alcoholism, of the never ending present, of the will to destroy that takes hold of him and makes him susceptible to the corrupting influence of the Overlook.

Jack Torrance is an angry, depressed man, carrying around immense guilt and shame. He’s a recovering alcoholic with obvious suicidal impulses. The Overlook is the equivalent of an enabling friend who hangs around, offering drinks, prodding and pushing. Sadly, Jack does what so many other depressed people do under the influence; he makes an irreversible decision based on the closed-loop logic of shame and alcohol, effectively ending his life because the fire was too hot and he couldn’t imagine a world without it. That the Overlook, and Jack, ends the book in flames is the final insult. In the end, the fire wins.

 

PART FOUR

Stephen King’s writing can be awfully depressing sometimes. That is hardly news, given that he’s the world’s most successful horror author, and horror is by its very nature a depressing genre. Yet, Stephen King himself has always been a joyful, bright star in the literary universe. He rarely drags people publicly (Trump and his cronies excluded), he gladly shares the spotlight, he’s written multiple love letters to his profession and other stars in it, and he’s managed to maintain an insane amount of normalcy in his life given his status. So, for a casual observer there can be a jarring discrepancy between the work and the man making the work.

Yet, if you pay attention, King buries down-home rays of sunshine into his work. It’s one of those Kingisms, weird idiosyncrasies that are peculiar to Stephen King (like the curiously ubiquitous blue chambray shirt, looking at you Derry Public Radio). In a ton of his novels there are one or two characters who pop up that are simply good, salt of the earth people that seem neither broken by the horrors of the world, nor bothered by the horrors in the story. In the average horror work, when a seemingly good person shows up in the rising action, they almost always end up being part of the evil or get killed (Texas Chainsaw Massacre has one of the classic examples), yet in King’s work these characters almost universally aid the protagonist in some small, but appreciable way. It’s as though King can’t help but let his fondness for simple tastes, and his unwavering belief in the good of humanity, shine through in his work.

THE MINISERIES

As with other aspects of his writing, The Shining represents the awakening of this particular quirk. There are no redeeming salt of the earth characters in Carrie or Rage, and the few good people in ‘Salem’s Lot get morphed into vampires in a classic horror turn. But in The Shining, we get treated to a double whammy of old fashioned, good-ole-boy deus ex machina in the form of the two gentlemen who come to Dick Halloran’s aid on the climb to the Overlook. In a normal horror story, a mysteriously convenient snowplow operator would be an evil agent of the Overlook, but in King’s work he gets out, offers some helpful tidbits to Dick, and then points him in the direction of his friend in town who just happens to own snowmobiles for rent. Then, when Dick gets to the snowmobile dude, he just happens to be super alright with lending his last snowmobile to a strange man without enough money trying to get to a closed hotel because of reasons. This is a King novel, so of course he does.

Far from being obnoxious or cloying, these brief moments of old fashioned decency are one of the hallmarks of Stephen King’s work. He seems to genuinely love people and the characters in his book in a way that is uncommon in horror writers. He is, by all measures, a joyful writer of horror, and that joy finds a way into his work even in the most dour of tales.

I suppose you can take the writer out of Maine, but you can’t take the Maine out of the writer.

 

PART FIVE

The apocryphal genesis story for Stephen King’s first published novel Carrie begins with King being accused of writing stories about and for men. He was supposedly accused of being unable to write believable women or stories about women. His reaction was to write a blistering tale of female rejection and revenge, focusing on the decidedly male-gazey metaphor of menstrual blood as the centerpiece of his thriller.

Given the milieu of mid-1970s misogyny into which Carrie was written and published, and the obvious good faith effort King put into the book, Carrie can be claimed as at least a partial win for the writer. He certainly proved he can write believable female characters, and female-centered stories. Carrie passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors (an impressive feat for the time, and, frustratingly, now), and instantly launched a female icon into the horror pantheon, existing in that liminal space between hero and villain women are so often denied in popular fiction.

You could hardly argue that Carrie is some sort of feminist manifesto, though. It’s clearly written by a man, and there are some slightly cringey moments, not least of all the constant drumbeat of menstrual blood. It’s not that menstruation is off limits, but the theme definitely deserves an eye roll for the sheer obviousness of it, as though vaginal blood was the first thing that popped into King’s head when he thought of women.

ARTWORK

But the most “problematic” of Carrie’s moments is the sexual and physical violence Billy Nolan uses to breakdown and control Chris Hargensen. His use of horrible, unforgivable language, and overt rape threat make him a decidedly awful character. On the one hand, there is certainly an argument that the language and rape is a necessary-ish part of the Billy Nolan character, both setting him up as the true villain, and offering a sort of sad tragedy to Chris’s story arc. On the surface this is perhaps true, and if Carrie were the only King book one were to ever read, would probably be a sufficient explanation.

This becomes more difficult to defend, however, once one broadens one’s reading to the wider King canon. By the time King released The Shining, he’d introduced the world to several memorable female characters, and somehow fully 75% of them wind up dead in horrific ways, have story arcs that relegate them to love interests, or get threatened with wildly abusive language and physical violence. Specifically, the frequency and seeming glee with which the word “c**t,” and sexual violence in general, is hurled at female protagonists is somewhat alarming given King’s obvious feminist and pacifist bonafides off the page.

With no character is this more frustrating than with Wendy Torrance, arguably the first truly believable female character in King’s canon. Despite the focus on Jack’s alcoholism and Danny’s visions, the hero of The Shining is Wendy. She’s a tragic hero, in the vein of the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, doomed to fight in vain against a more powerful enemy in order to buy time for her son. The strength and resolve Wendy shows throughout the book, especially in the third act, is powerful, and it’s the gravitational center of the narrative. Even when we’re with Jack, he’s often commenting and reacting to Wendy’s presence. She is the character with weight, and all other characters must contend with it. Even the Overlook implicitly understands this, realizing that Wendy must be eliminated for the plan to be completed. Jack is a useful idiot, Danny is the MacGuffin, and Dick is a narrative feint. But Wendy is the star holding the narrative together.

In many ways, The Shining is the story of Wendy coming to grips with the specter of her mother’s animosity, her guilt about her sister, and finding the strength she needs to walk away from the abusive people in her life and stand on her own. It’s the story of a battered wife learning to stand and fight.

Which is why it’s all the more problematic to have so many horrible things said to her. It’s not that it’s strictly-speaking “out of character” for demon-possessed, drunken Jack Torrance to shout horrible, misogynistic things at his wife--after-all, it’s Jack’s latent misogyny and paranoia over his own masculinity that enables the Overlook to get such a stranglehold on him--but it’s the laziness of the insults. It’s like the menstrual blood all over again. As though the only thing King can think of to insult a woman is to call her a c**t and a slut and threaten rape. It’s almost as though he forgot the hero of his tale was a person, with a complex backstory and plenty of a more potent Achilles' heel than her mere womanhood. I mean, Jack is Wendy’s husband. He knows all her deepest secrets, fears, and desires, yet the worst he can think of to hurt her and bring her to heel is to call her a c**t.

That’s lazy writing and also frustrating given the heightened tension that could have come from a more emotionally complicated third act. King set up all the narrative pieces and then seemed to forget to tighten up Wendy’s storyline, leaving her as the foil to Jack’s rage, instead of making her growth a more central plot point. In the end, King centered the storyline of the male characters instead of the natural hero of the novel. As much as I love Stephen King (I started a darn fan site, for goodness sake!) it’s hard not to see his handling of Wendy in the final act, and his generally dodgy track record with female characters to that point in his career, as possibly a smidge of casual misogyny.

It’s sad, really, because it’s one of the only black marks on this otherwise flawless novel. Wendy deserved better, and so did we.

 

READERS NOTES

  • In Chapter 44, King mentions that The Beatles song "Ticket To Ride" is playing in the background, which makes it the second time in four books that a Beatles song plays in a King novel.

  • In Chapter 49, it's mentioned that Dick Hallorann has seen little of winter, which is odd since he was stationed in Derry, Maine while in the army.

  • In the chapter titled "REDRUM" King specifically mentions that Wendy runs up 19 steps, 19 being a fairly important number in the King multiverse. Also, 2+17 = 19. Speaking of room 217...why the heck did Kubrick change it to 237!?

  • There is a distinct Alice in Wonderland feel to the Overlook. For one, the moving topiaries seem straight out of Lewis Carroll. For another, the use of the roque mallet is a strange choice, almost comical. In fact, Wonderland is specifically mentioned at one point, so maybe it was ligering there in the back of his mind.

  • When Jack discovers the scrapbook in the basement, there are a few clippings from the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

  • When the Torrance family visits the pediatrician in Sindewinder, I found it super strange how nonchalant the doctor is about Jack once breaking his son's arm. I guess it was perfectly cool to break your kids' bones in the 1970's.

  • Even though it rarely shows up in the classic iconography of the book and movie, the alien nature of insects is a repeated theme running through the book. There's the obvious scenes with the wasp nest, but also at the end when the Overlook goes up in flames, it's described that a dark, insectile shape emerged from the hotel and blew away like a cloud. This is obviously not the only time that King uses insect or arachnid forms to represent ultimate evil. In It, Pennywise's truest form is a spider-like creature. The same goes for The Crimson King and Mordred in The Dark Tower. This makes sense given how influential H.P. Lovecraft and his eldritch horrors were on King's work.

  • Easily the most tragic part of The Shining is that Danny's powers are what make it possible for the Overlook to control Jack. Dick Hallorann notes when he first meets Jack that he is functionally dead w/r/t to the shining, which means the Overlook can only reach him by using Danny's immense powers as a sort of amplifier that makes it possible for Jack to tune into the Overlook's deadly frequencies. No Danny, no crazy, drunken Jack.

 
Mike Hanlon, Dick Hallorann, and Stephen King's Magical Negroes

Mike Hanlon, Dick Hallorann, and Stephen King's Magical Negroes

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