Pile of Shame time: I have never watched The Shining all the way through.
(I’ll wait a moment so those of you who know me can gasp dramatically. Perhaps faint a little for good measure.)
Oh, I’ve seen clips. I’ve seen parodies of it. I’m well aware of the basic outlines of its plot and of its most famous scenes. I’ve more or less watched it without really watching it…
But I’ve never sat down to actually watch it from beginning to end.
Eventually I expect I will remedy that, just so I can cross it off the list. But for some reason, the other day I was browsing my library app and it recommended the original novel to me.
Why not? I thought. What the hell.
And so last night I started reading.
I’ve always had sort of mixed results with Stephen King; I respect his position in the horror canon, but he’s never really clicked for me in long-form writing. I’m not sure what it is that puts me off, exactly. Perhaps it’s passages like the one in the first few chapters where the caretaker, showing Jack around the Basement Of Ominous Pipes And Conspicuously Mouldering Paperwork (with possibly Chekhov’s Furnace; we’ll see), delivers a spectacularly misogynistic little anecdote about an older woman who came to the Overlook Hotel. She brought a boy-toy, you see. And drank a lot. And it didn’t end well for anyone, from the sound of it.
I am not certain whether King wants me to feel visceral disgust toward the woman, the caretaker delivering the speech, or both; for now, I grimace and continue reading.
It is remarkable how very 70s the book is, immediately. Just a few pages in there’s a reference to English Leather, which I only have the dimmest memory of vaguely seeing an ad for somewhere once upon a time. (That specific ad pre-dates me, as does the book. But I am gratified not to be the only person who looked up that commercial because they saw it flit through Jack’s mind and wanted to make sure they weren’t imagining this was a cologne brand or something.) There’s a reference to Uncle Wiggily, which I think my grandparents had an extremely antique copy of, and which seriously makes me wonder why Jack’s mind went to that game rather than, I don’t know, Battleship.
And then of course there’s the obvious things: A radio with a list of frequencies to tune to instead of cell phones (but oh the glorious lack of need to justify why someone’s phone isn’t working, am I right, writers?) The…paper-ness of everything; filing cabinets and inboxes and outboxes that were actual boxes and little personalized notepads you kept in your pocket, with an actual pen.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. I guess we’ll see.