Monday, May 12, 2014


When I started reading Stephen King, I decided I would not read another book by the same author. However, when I was about to finish the book I was reading, I amended my decision and became his Constant Reader.

This is my story of how I read Stephen King. This review is hardly important, because the book I am reviewing here is Stephen King’s novel, Misery, which is read, re-read and reviewed many a thousand times before I even read the book. However, for a true reader, each time a book is different. As they say, no one reads the same book again. What did you say? Oh, you have read Misery even before I was born? Yeah, I know. Let me state that I am jealous of your seniority in this business.

Paul Sheldon, the centre upon which all feral deeds are committed, is a popular novelist. He writes two types of books, in his own words, “Good books, and bestsellers.” In order to finish his latest novel, he takes off to a mountain hotel. A snowstorm hits hard on his plans to get back to New York, submit the manuscript to his agent, and set off on a secret journey to find himself.
Image Courtesy: Google

His car skids off from the snow-covered road, topples over, and crashes into a snow bay. His number one fan rescues him. You know what happens next. Annie Wilkes, the terrifying mother figure intends to keep Paul Sheldon in her custody until he writes a novel exclusively for her.

Thus, Misery Chastain, the protagonist of Paul’s bestselling novel series Misery, comes back from her tomb. Annie Wilkes addresses herself Paul Sheldon’s number one fan. She loves the Misery novels written by Sheldon. Although Paul remains as the central character of the plot, Misery is the story of the ex-nurse, Annie Wilkes too.

Stephen King weaves the elements of terror in such a way that the reader can find associations with the characters and events, even if there is a clear deviation from “realism” in this book. The non-real however, is not some sort of fantastical being as in another of Stephen King’s novel, IT, but a number one fan herself. How many number one fans would do all the deeds that Annie does to Paul Sheldon?
Paul Sheldon, Image Courtesy: Google

Well, I was speaking relatively.   

Misery is not just book about an author living in imprisonment with a manic-depressive woman. There are undertones of a mother-son relationship gone wrong in the apparent power struggle, where the mother intends to keep the son-figure under her full control, but the son needs to get out, find his own ways and life.

The first part of the book is titled “Goddess Africa”. Stephen King suggests the similarities of Annie with some pagan goddess among the African tribes known as the Bee People. Paul Sheldon experiences Annie Wilkes’ enforcements with a certain hypnotic acquiescence.

Mr. King successfully draws psychological observations regarding the mental state of the inmate. He lives like a bird in a zoo. Although, initially it feels lonely and discomforted at the new place of life, slowly the bird is acquainted with the conditions. In this state of mind, the prisoner starts considering the prison as his new home. Even though he gets clear chance to get out of there, Paul gets back to his room, feeling guilty of betraying Annie, the psychotic person who could apparently kill him.
Image Courtesy: Google

Finally, Misery is a ‘guide to writing’ within a fictional work. Mr. King rolls the drums to a high notch by giving the reader a clear shot description about how this process called writing takes place. Not its glamorous side, but the dirty mind games the writer plays.

An additional observation is that Paul, the writer had almost ended his courtship with his series titled Misery, the story of Misery Chastain, a beautiful Victorian woman. He is showing his frustration on Misery and the joy in writing his promising new book, Fast Cars. In a psychological reading, one can observe in Mr. King’s book, a very delicate relationship with an author, and his character. Paul is unable to forget or to disown his character, even though he badly desires so. The events and the response in his mind towards the latest events in his life, suggest that Annie Wilkes, his number-one fan is only his means to get to the end of Misery Chastain story. Paul Sheldon sets out to see how it all really ends in Misery’s life.

No cheating Paulie…  
Image Courtesy: Misery, the Movie, Google

Get the book here:

Let me know how you like it once you start reading Misery.

By the way, Misery was published after my birth, in 1987. So you can’t say you read it before I was born. Just saying.   

There is a movie with the same name and story. However, I loved the book best.

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