1.07.2014

Stephen King: The Man's Got Tremendous Heart

Doctor Sleep is further proof that Stephen King is one of this generation's (or any generation's, for that matter) most cherished storytellers. 

The novel is filled with touching insights into the frailty of the flawed--a population of humans that, thankfully, encapsulates all of us. It tells the story of Abra Stone and Danny Torrance, and I'm not writing those names out of order. If it weren't for Abra's tremendous gifts, the True Knot would still be out there on I-4, clogging the left lane and stopping at every rest stop to sniff out some steam snacks.

King's observational gifts are highly tuned here, and he masters the greatest trick of the seasoned surrealist--to render the familiar distant, strange, or menacing. The short passage in which he describes the Knot--they're denizens, characteristics, behaviors, and appearance--is chilling. The idea of ancient evil masked in such benign clothing is well done, and Rose the Hat is one of my all-time favorite villains. 

King knows what it's like to have been, if not derailed by addiction, at least a little bit waylaid by it. His coverage of Danny's recovery, his constant struggles with his illness, and his final redemption are authentic without ever becoming patronizing. There's a lot of realism here, and it just shows how large the author's heart is. 

All writing is deeply personal, but much of it never leans toward revelatory. Doctor Sleep does, even if it's not King's rock-bottom moment that's on display here. This is a book for anyone that's been kicked around a bit (and not necessarily by addiction, but by any number of life's conundrums), but found the strength to stand and do something important.

As Casey K. will no doubt attest, sometimes that "something important" is just getting through another day.

Another fantastic story. Can't wait to see what's coming up next...

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