Misery by Stephen King

12Jan07

Synopsis:
A writer suffers a car wreck and finds himself in the tender loving care of his number one fan.

Review:
It’s so hard to separate Misery the book from the movie, particularly because Kathy Bates’s performance is so indelibly iconic. However, the movie leaves out a key story element–the actual book that Annie Wilkes forces Paul Sheldon to write. Annie is furious that Paul’s newest novel kills off her beloved Misery Chastain, and orders him to bring her back to life. As Paul works out how to resurrect Misery from the dead, he wrestles with the mechanics of storytelling and finds himself awed again by the mysteries of creation.

So many of King’s protagonists have been writers, and it was reading what King had to say about writing that made me realize how much I wanted to write myself. The most enjoyable part of Misery is watching Paul fall in love all over again with a character and genre he’d grown to hate, simply because he’s having so much fun writing. It inspires me to hit the keyboard and keep pushing forward on my own work.

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4 Responses to “Misery by Stephen King”

  1. I never saw the movie, but really liked the book. You’ve got me curious, though, wondering what the movie is about if not that.

  2. It’s basically just a straightforward thriller. Worth it for the performances, mostly.

  3. This is my very favorite King novel, and the one that I encourage everyone to read when King’s name comes up. The novel-in-the-novel is entertaining, and I was really happy with Annie (even though she’s completely nuts) for explaining to him exactly how his first effort was a “cheat”, and making him start over. Even though I’ve only read it once when it first came out (late 80’s?) I still remember so many scenes in great detail. Yeah, I’ve seen the movie and liked it OK, but I know I’m remembering King’s novel because I’m recalling scenes in his prose style.

  4. That exchange is like a master class in writing, and King sets it up so expertly by letting us assume that Paul Sheldon is a hack writer. When we read the first chapter of Misery Returns, it’s filled with romance novel cliches and laden with clunky exposition. Then, after Annie calls him out for cheating, King lets Paul realize that she’s right by thinking it through. His rewritten first chapter not only works, but the writing is much stronger, and it reads like a lost book by Daphne DuMaurier. We realize that Paul deserves to be a best selling author, and this whole sequence gives us conflicted allegiance. We want Paul to get free, but we also want him to finish the book–even if it means staying with Annie Wilkes.


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