In Short: Bestselling author Paul Sheldon is saved by his number one fan after crashing his car in a snow storm. Sweet Annie Wilkes helps nurse Sheldon back to health while he writes the next installment to her favorite book series. Bahahahahaha.
Why I Read Misery: For Care’s Misery Readalong! I can’t pass up a good King readalong. If you want to join us in some King-sized fun, we’ll be reading Salem’s Lot this fall (I think October).
Thoughts in General: Even though I never saw the movie in full, it’s hard to ignore Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes when reading Misery. This one is written in third person so we don’t get to see Annie’s inner thoughts (which I so wish we could read this account from her perspective!), but Stephen King does a fantastic job of capturing her cookadoodie insanity–Annie really is everything that is frightening about Misery. Paul Sheldon is a dud in comparison and one of my least favorite of King’s protagonists.
Misery had a slow start for me and there were bits that I tuned out–I’m never a big fan of a story within a story (in this case, the book Sheldon is writing for Annie), but once the book picked up…I’d say right around the mark that we all think we know based on the very famous scene in the movie…there was no slow down until the very end. And while I think King sometimes struggles with his endings (I mentioned this a bit in my Pet Sematary post), I think Misery is my favorite ending of all. In fact, it might have propelled my ranking in my overall King hierarchy if the whole book had been more like this (vague, I know).
Less vague: One thing that King does well is to perfectly portray fear so that it is draped like a cloak over it’s readers (or at least this one). You know that feeling when you enter an empty and dark room and your mind tricks you into seeing something that isn’t there? The way that your body reacts–pin prickles on your neck or a cold sweat? King describes this feeling so well that I sometimes feel paralyzed when reading these accounts in the book. While I’m a chicken and don’t necessarily like being scared, there’s also something so delicious in these moments of reading. For me this is how IT was–those opening moments of the book when the little boy is walking down the stairs to the basement–classic fear! This type of moment popped up in the end of the book and I would have loved to have had more of this throughout the whole of the book.
There’s another brilliant moment in the book when Paul Sheldon is considering the mania that certain readers feel about the characters in the books they read–they mourn when they pass away as though they are real. This made me think of the books I’ve read where I laid in bed and sobbed after closing the last pages–grief stricken over what happened to my characters. I loved the way that King described this feeling and it made me feel just a little bit less alone in my bookish nuttiness…not that I’m quite the Number One Fan that Ms. Annie Wilkes is!
Bottom Line: A fun and frightening ride! If you’re looking for an introduction to King, this is a great place to start–there isn’t any horror, though there is some horrific stuff that happens in the book–it’s more of a thriller than one that will keep you up at night. Misery will keep you on your toes and it’s short enough to devour quickly. So glad to have read this one!
Notes on the Audio: I mostly listened to the audiobook so that I could devour Misery more quickly. I listened on 1.5x speed and Crouse did a fine job of narrating, but there were weird musical interludes instead of chapter breaks and I found it difficult to pop back and forth between audio and book because of this. I can’t understand why the actual chapter numbers weren’t announced in the audio production!
And a video that was shared on the twitter #MiseryRAL thread. After getting to know Annie, I was brought to tears by this video. If you’re not familiar, it might not have the same effect…Scott just looked at me like I was crazy. But see it out…the ending is the best (you could fast forward the first 30 seconds or so).
Have you read Misery or seen the movie? You up for Salem’s Lot this fall??