Whistlestop Blog

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep: the shock of the old is new again

More to the surprise of Stephen King than to a few million of his fans, a sequel was necessary to The Shining  (1977).  Doctor Sleep  is it.  We find Danny Torrance and his mother living in Tampa, Florida.  By page 5, bad things begin to happen, a legacy of The Overlook, the hotel in Colorado where John Torrance, husband of Wendy and father of Danny and writer with the worst writer's block ever, died in its explosion and burning.  This time, however, Mr. King is not just interested in an unhappy family (no more than Tolstoy was in Anna Karenina).  He is interested in casting a wider net for those with the shining, as he called it then, that ability to both see the world and its poor damaged humanity free of limits of time and mortality.  The gift can be both a blessing of empathy and a nightmare of pursuit by those who feed off of it.

Mr. King is on a roll recently.  Joyland, his almost-autobiographical novel of a New England carnival, was published earlier this year, a paperback original for his friends at Hard Case Crime, and we have received nothing but positive feedback from our customers.  The television series of Under the Dome, while wildly uneven in quality, is keeping his last big book in the public eye.  Whatever the execution of his books on screens both big and small, the ideas and the perceptions are usually there, and people are smart enough to be interested in those and to follow them up in the book.  And with Mr. King, the book is always, always better than the film.  He knows better than anyone else that what is in your imagination is always deeper and more real and scarier than any Hollywood production.