The Shining

For my cheerful, light-hearted, postpartum reading, I decided on The Shining by Stephen King.

As my husband and I like to joke with each other, compared to the existential horrors we now call reality, nothing is scary anymore. LOL

In fact, the weird part is how open and honest the characters are about their dysfunctions, and no one calls social services on them or prescribes anti-psychotics. WTF?

This is the second Stephen King novel I’ve ever read (the other being Misery, which is also set in snowy Colorado), and I have to say that he knows how to suck the reader in; I don’t have to force myself to pick up the book. On top of that, he uses enough run-on sentences, interrupted paragraphs, and other random grammatical weirdness that I don’t find myself spacing out and skimming over the words without really understanding them.

The dialogue is corny at times, but since the book was written in the 1970’s, I think it’s more a reflection on that particular decade than anything else. It also annoys me that none of the characters seem to have any sense of self-preservation. It’s hard to feel bad for them when they were very much asking for it.

I know enough about violence that the climax is too unrealistic to be remotely scary.

Because of those existential horrors we now call reality.

About Writing, Alice and the Warden

Damon Rake

Obligatory link to Alice and the Warden

The night that I named all of the characters, I browsed through a database of surnames, came across Rake, and thought that it felt right for Damon’s character. The next day when I showed everything to my husband, he laughed his butt off and pointed out that one of the definitions of a ‘rake’ is: “a man who behaves in an immoral way, for example by having sexual relationships with a lot of women.”

Oh. Right. That’s probably why I thought it fit. Kept it anyway.

So yes, I know, but it wasn’t intentional.

Damon is thirty years old, straight auburn hair about cheek length, and brown eyes. He’s attractive, and deliberately goes for the ‘hot bad boy’ image, but his lifestyle is catching up with him and his looks are wearing out.

Damon’s background is fairly stereotypical: he grew up with a deadbeat mom and her steady string of boyfriends, many of whom were abusive jerks. Got into the party scene young and never made it to high school. Likes the freedom of a motorcycle, never thinks about the future, and has an almost narcissistic preoccupation with image. His moral structure is hedonistic and self-serving, and he’s full of a lot of anger and hatred that results in antisocial behavior.

Damon is smart. He’s good at reading people, and has an intuitive understanding of how to exploit and manipulate their weaknesses. He doesn’t make very many mistakes.

While he saw Alice primarily as an asset to manage and utilize, he was genuinely fond of her. In his mind, he rescued her from neglect, took her under his wing to provide for her, and gave her a purpose. Because of this, he kept her around for much longer than he ordinarily would have, until he thought that she was becoming too much of a liability for him to keep control of. He was aware that he was slowly destroying her, but was too nihilistic to stop.

He views Alice’s transformation as a betrayal of him and everything he taught her, but is secretly glad that she found somewhere stable and safe to land.

In about twenty years or so, he’ll have reformed enough to maintain contact with his daughter, Alicia. But that will be a long journey for him.