The Shining Book Club Wrap Up

A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
edited April 2016 in General
Okay, I'm sorry I missed last week's thread.  I was sick and I had a bunch of stuff going on, but I wanted to finish the Club out because I finished the book in a marathon session that lasted until Wednesday at 3am and resulted in the worst night of sleep in my life (especially since I had to get up at 6am to pack the kid off to school.  Bad life decisions all around).

I don't think this book was good for my mental health, but I consider the book excellent to the extent that it's diminished (I think) my enjoyment of Kubrick's movie version.  Now, some things in the movie that are excellent are not in the book at all (such as the waves of blood and "all work and no play..."), and some things that are excellent in the book didn't make it into the movie and I understand why (the topiary and playground scenes, mostly), and some things that are super important in the book are nailed in the movie (such as the ballroom scenes, and Jack being locked in the cupboard), but ye gods, did they not due any kind of Justice to the characters of Jack and Wendy, which ultimately really neutered the family dynamic and what a tragedy it all was.  

The POV of five year old Danny was heart breaking, everyone, without exception, and in particular towards the end his child-heroism got my lip quivering many a time.  

I though the conception and execution of Danny's psychic powers in the novel felt really good, and I'm kind of glad Jim decided not to do the audio book, because I don't know how in the hell they'd nail that kind of super-stream of conscious stuff when read aloud.  King uses fonts and italics and brackets and all kinds of things to tell us what is going on without really handholding.  

I was surprised at how creepy reading this book in a dark room is I foolishly did 90% of my reading just before bed, with only a single LED bulb for light.  At many points, especially with Danny's experience in room 217, and Jack's revisit, and the aforementioned playground scene, it wasn't easy getting to sleep those nights. 

I was blown away by how sympathetic King made a child abusing recovering alcoholic.  The fact that a lot of the things were auto-biographic probably helped a lot, and once again I am so thankful that for all my myriad flaws and problems, I so far have managed to steer clear from substance abuse,

Questions I still have.  Did Jack and Al actually kill someone that night they were drunk driving?  Crazy theory; is it possible the Overlook actually engineered the accident from afar to bring Danny and his family there for the winter?  I wouldn't think so, but when I found out Al was on the board and spent time there and the hotel seems telepathic to an extent I wonder...

Is Doctor Sleep as bad as people say? My kindle copy had 3-ish sample chapters that I found very creepy and almost pulled the "buy now" trigger on the spot.

I really want to hear a commentary or read something from someone that has read and watched the movie and is a fan of both, preferably with inside knowledge, explain why some of the cuts and omissions in the film are there.  I read some things that indicated the person that helped Kubric on the screen play (Diane Johnson) found many of them painful, and I wonder why Kubric went ahead and did them, seeing as he had nearly a 3 hour film to work with. Does anyone have a book or commentary or something they'd recommend.

What did everybody else think?  


  • elgat0elgat0 Clearwater
    @A_Ron_Hubbard, I assume this was supposed to be titled The Shining Wrap up.  I can empathize with the heebie jeebies reading this novel caused you.  I read it in when I was 20 years old and it caused me to lose some sleep.  It didn't help that I was in a remote Vacation Cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.

    I read Dr. Sleep when it came out.  It was a rather tame story, but it does have some good emotional beats with Danny's character as an adult.
  • Kim_EKim_E Atlanta
    There was an episode of Friends where Joey kept his copy of The Shining in the freezer because it scared him so much. I think of that every time the subject of how scary it is comes up.

    I think I actually appreciated all the character set-up and psychological stuff from the first third of the book as much if not more than when the scares came at the Overlook. I also thought it was masterful how King tracked Jack's descent - it sort of snuck up on me, until he made that phone call to Ullman and I realized how far gone he already was. Little repeated gestures like rubbing his lips were really effective.

    And if fictional people could sue,  the character of Wendy, especially, would have an airtight case against Kubrick and Shelley Duvall for defamation. She was flawed and made her mistakes, but book-Wendy was absolutely fantastic. 

    I bought the audio book of Doctor Sleep but I haven't started listening yet. Even if it's not great, I found myself wanting to check in with Danny, Wendy, and Halloran.
  • I read Doctor Sleep, and I really liked it. I don't want to get spoilery, but I wonder if a lot of the hate comes from people who wanted Danny to be a larger version of the 5 year old in the Shining. He's a grown up who has survived the Overlook and lost his father who he deeply, deeply loved - and who loved him. He's flawed, but I liked that he had to work through it.

    There are some villains who were sorta wtf for me, but I liked the rest.

    Now: why did Halloran have to die
    In the film? That really bothered me because it wasn't necessary at all.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    gjulleen said:

    Now: why did Halloran have to die
    In the film? That really bothered me because it wasn't necessary at all.

    I honestly wonder if it has to do with it being a horror film and someone feeling like there had to be an actual death (outside of Jack's) in a horror movie. Because now that I think on it--there are plenty of horror elements, but no one else actually dies in the film. Just conjecture on my part.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    elgat0 said:

    @A_Ron_Hubbard, I assume this was supposed to be titled The Shining Wrap up.

    Good grief, I'm slipping.
  • I loved Dr. Sleep, but it is a very different book from the shining (which is where I think a lot of the hate comes from). There are a lot more supernatural creatures and events from the start.
  • Forgive me if I've mentioned this in a forum before...even though I am not at all a horror fan, I am a huge Stephen King fan.  I truly think the guy is a story telling genius.  The Stand is amazing!!!!!

    And I recently listened to "It".  I had first read it years ago when I was in my early twenties on a train ride from N. Cal to Montana and it had scared me to death.

    So a couple of months ago I thought hey, I'll do the Audible version.  Suffice it to say the passage of time has apparently not toughened me up much when it comes to Kingl.  One night I had to go up and check on our generator...grown woman, flashlight, hauling ass up the stairs outside...nuf said.

    Seems like you all enjoyed the Shining.  Yay!

  • @A_Ron_Hubbard

    I don't have inside info- but I have the feeling there were hours and hours and hours of film that got cut.  My little brother was actually Danny's extra up in Glacier Natl Park where they filmed the drive to the Overlook.  And he was up there for weeks.  And almost none of that made it in the film. I think I've heard or read over the years that he would often end up with huge amounts of film to edit, way more than most directors, but I can't remember where.  I do though think by this point in time Kubrick was pretty aware of himself as a genius, I suspect he may have thought  on some level he was improving on King's work.  
  • DanielDaniel Bangor, Maine
    I hope we can do more books on here in the future. It would be nice to have a podcast with feedback, but we'd probably want Jim involved so it's not a solo cast. I'd always be happy to read more Stephen King, but I'm probably biased since I live in his hometown.

    I've always enjoyed the film version of The Shining, but I think it fails to make Jack a sympathetic character. At the same time, many things that come to mind when I think of The Shining aren't present in the novel, such as the girls in the hallway, the blood-filled elevator, "All work and no play..." and so on. Finally, as iconic as the film's hedge maze is, I love the topiary animals that move when you aren't looking at them, much like Doctor Who's Weeping Angels.

    Has anybody watched the miniseries? I've heard that it follows the novel much closer than Kubrick's film.
    S. SmithDaveyMac
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited April 2016
    @Daniel , I've seen most of the miniseries. The screenplay was written by King so it is much closer to the book. However, it struggles with the much the same things that many of the things King writes for screen. His dialogue is waaaaay stilted. What seems okay on page does not remotely come across as normal in spoken word. The special effects are pretty shoddy. It was that time in the 90s where CGI was just getting going, so it was used everywhere--but not particularly well or convincing. Steven Weber does as good a job as he can, but its hard line to walk between over-acting/hammy and being a convincing, alcoholic/possessed crazed person. Ultimately I'm not sure he has the chops to do it, or if he does, it wasn't written well enough for him to show that.

    However... @S. Smith mentions the audio book of IT. Weber does a fantastic job reading that audio book. His version of Pennywise is pretty awesome.
  • @Garthgou81

    Shit...I read "Pennywise" just now and got a tiny chill.  LOL
  • I, too, regrettably read large chunks of this book right before bed and that was always a mistake. The scariest bit for me was Danny with the hedge animals. Totally understandable why that stuff was cut from the film, but terrifying on paper. It came across pretty cheesy in the miniseries. 

    My enjoyment of the film definitely went down on my first watch after reading the book. It has some amazing stuff, but I remember being really disappointed that there was no build-up to the Jack's craziness and the Wendy character is just a really poor adaptation of what she is in the book. 

    As to Dr. Sleep, I know I've been somewhat critical of it in other threads, but I still think it is totally worth a read. Danny is a really fascinating character and I love seeing where ends up as an adult. I, too, read the preview chapters in The Shining and that's what got me to pull the trigger. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into some of the issues I have with the book, but again, I certainly would recommend it.

    Lastly, I would love to see more Bald Move Book Club threads in the future.
  • I wanted to, but in the end decided not to re-read the book as I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping, and thought perhaps I shouldn't add another reason to that. Just wanted to pop in and say I'd also like more book club threads, but maybe something a little less terrifying. :)
    S. SmithDaveyMac
  • ThankthePasserThankthePasser Louisville
    edited April 2016
    Dr Sleep is worth a read. Its fascinating to see the person Danny grew up to be, what he does for a living, and his own struggles with substance abuse and the past. There is a truly terrifying part involving an old friend from the Overlook. The problem is the story loses "steam" towards the end and feels a little anti-climactic. The villians get a little cheesy. Definitely worth the read though.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    edited April 2016
    DaveyMac said:

    I, too, regrettably read large chunks of this book right before bed and that was always a mistake. The scariest bit for me was Danny with the hedge animals. Totally understandable why that stuff was cut from the film, but terrifying on paper. It came across pretty cheesy in the miniseries. 

    Yes, fuck everything that was going on in the dry leaves of the "cement circle".  I definitely did not take two hours to get to sleep after reading that. 
  • With the better CGI available now, it's possible to pull off the hedge animals now.  Perfectly  understandable why Kubrick opted to change that.
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