This week’s book recommendation is Misery by Stephen King. This is the first recommendation I’ve made for a book by Stephen King, which seems strange considering how influential he has been in the writing industry for the past fifty years (almost, his first book, Carrie, came out in 1973). When I was a young, stubborn fool, I fell into a regrettable pitfall of human thought and refused to read any of Stephen King’s books simply because he was so well known and popular and everyone raved about his writing (including a few of my friends). I grew older and out of such naive thinking but still didn’t read any of his novels until I was in college. The first book I read by him was his book On Writing (which is amazing for anyone wanting to know more about him and know his thoughts on the subject). I’ve only read a few of his other books so far, and one of them was Misery.
Misery is the story of Paul Sheldon, a writer who finds himself held captive by an insane super-fan (the word fan does stem, or is a shortening of, fanatic). He is forced to write the revival of a character he recently killed off. A character that made Paul a popular novelist and who was the center of a long series. A character that Annie Wilkes loves so much that she goes to unimaginable lengths to make sure the character comes back in an acceptable way. This book is also somewhat two-fold. You get the “real” story of Paul and his predicament (for lack of a better word) and the story Paul is writing which is enticing in itself.
Stephen King mentions in his book On Writing that the fictional pain drug in Misery called Novril, and the book itself, were both slightly metaphorical of his own addiction to cocaine. Misery was written in 1987 (I believe Mr. King had defeated his addiction by that time if my memory serves me right).
I had the pleasure of seeing Stephen King in person last year (it’s okay to be jealous). He is the first I’ve checked off my authors-to-see-in-person bucket list. It’s hard to check these off when not many touring authors come to the St. Louis area.
Though I have not yet seen it, I know there is an excellent movie adaptation of this book starring Kathy Bates and James Caan. Even though I haven’t seen it, I’m always biased and suggest you read the book even if you’ve seen the movie.