Monday, January 18, 2010



Carrie / Stephen King
New York : Pocket Books, 1999
Originally published: 1974
xv, 253 p.

A modern classic, Carrie introduced a distinctive new voice in American fiction -- Stephen King. The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge, remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.

I've never read any Stephen King before, so I got this over the weekend and ended up reading it in one sitting yesterday. It's not a long book, but that's still a pretty amazing feat for me.

What struck me in the first few pages of the novel was, "Wow. He's a pretty good writer." Even though I've read some of his articles and have respect for the man and his opinions (and even his writing style), I've always had this impression of his novels as "genre fiction" and therefore my expectations were low. It's a silly preconception to have considering a) I've read his nonfiction and know I like his style, and b) I read genre fiction, and even though many popular authors write terribly, not all of them do.

Anyway, I saw the movie version of Carrie a long time ago. It was on TV, and I remember flipping back and forth between it and other things. So I basically knew what happened, but honestly, who doesn't at this point?

Still, the novel remains engaging. In most novel-length (or movie-length) horror stories, a number of gory or terrifying things happen throughout. This isn't the case in Carrie so King solves the problem of dramatic tension by juxtaposing regular third-person narrative with fictional excerpts from books and newspapers covering "The Carrie White Incident", so that even though all the horrific events happen on prom night in the last part of the book, the sense of tension leading up to it is sustained throughout.

The novel is a bit dated 35 years later, but the story is still affecting. Carrie is still a gripping and disturbing story. I definitely plan on exploring more of King's work this year.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in high school I was a bookworm but King was one of the few things I could read without getting teased. I believe I've read all of his books up until the past 5 years or so. Carrie is a good story but The Stand is one of my favorite books of all time.


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