Miseryby Published 01 Nov 1988
|Publisher||New English Library|
Alternate cover edition here.
Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader - she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.
'Misery' is a gruesome story of torture with blood, guts, and a psychopath. It's a well told tale, the characters are well developed and the fact that there are only two of them never gets boring. It's a real page turner, in fact I finished it tonight after getting off the subway on the platform before I walked home. But, this book is more than just a thriller, just like King is more than just a pulp writer.
I read an article by the ever optimistic and cheerful Harold Bloom in college about how dismayed he was that young people like Stephen King so much. All the literature crtics I've read hate King and it seems like it's just because people actually enjoy reading his work. Yeah, Bloom, I said 'work' just like I would about Tolstoy's 'work' because Stephen King as damned hard worker. Think of all the books he's churned out over the last few decades. I'd like to see Harold Bloom show enough imagination to write fiction instead of just criticizing it all the time.
I'm actually new to Stephen King's fiction. I've read a few of the essays and articles he's written and a really great graduation speech he gave at UMaine awhile ago in which he extolled the virtues of our mutual home state, but this is only my 3rd novel by him. I like this guy, and I know why too. It's not just because he makes me scream and I have a hard time putting his books down, it's because King loves writing. He has a real and self-aware relationship with what it means to be a writer. He knows he's not Tolstoy or Faulkner, he doesn't try to write that way. He knows how to tell a good god damned story and he has a passion for it. I appreciate his self awareness as a writer and the fact that he ackowledges how difficult the whole process is while not making us feel like he's somehow superior because he's figured out how to do it.
In 'Misery' it's almost like we get to watch King write this story. He doesn't just set us up for a crazy story and watch us discover things about his characters, it feels like he actually comes with us and makes the discoveries at the same time we do. That's what makes a good storyteller. And I don't give a damn if Bloom likes him or not.
Honestly, who among us hasn’t gotten frustrated with their favorite writer and felt like holding them prisoner while forcing them to write the exact book that we want?
Well, don’t do that because it would be wrong! What kind of twisted freaks are you people?!?
Paul Sheldon is a best selling author who just ended his popular series of romance/adventure novels by killing off the lead character, Misery Chastain. After finishing a new novel at a Colorado resort Paul has a car accident and awakes to find that his legs have been shattered, but that he’s been saved by his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes.
Unfortunately, Annie turns out to be more than just a little crazy, and when she learns that Paul killed Misery in the latest book she demands that he write a new one that brings back her favorite character. Held captive by a madwoman, Paul is almost helpless to resist the physical and psychological tortures she uses to get her way while insisting that it’s really for his own good.
This book seems eerily prophetic of King’s career in some ways. Uncle Stevie hadn’t yet frustrated readers of his Dark Tower series with long delays between books, and yet he absolutely nailed the self-righteous fury of a fan who feels somehow cheated out of what they deserve. You gotta think that later on King worried that he had some version of Annie out there just waiting to chain him to typewriter to finish DT. He was also years away from suffering his own enormous physical trauma after being hit by a car, but he still makes you feel every agonizing moment that Paul suffers from his accident and at Annie’s hands. Like Paul, King would also have the experience of returning to writing being a matter of overcoming physical pain but also finding it to be a way to escape it.
One of King’s biggest strengths is that he knows the power of a good story, and this plot serves him well by really letting him dig into that. Annie’s obsession with Misery is something that probably almost every reader can relate to, but what’s really interesting is how Paul’s need to tell the story becomes just as compelling as Annie’s threats. The set-up lets Uncle Stevie explore the whole notion of just why we gotta know what happens next as well as the rules that make it a satisfying resolution or a cheat.
I could make a pretty solid argument that this is King’s best book. He was very much at the peak of his powers here, and either the simple two person structure of the story or good editing kept this at a normal novel length. That’d become a rarity in his bloated books after this, and it does feel like King at his most disciplined. In Annie Wilkes he crafted a character worthy of being included in a Villain’s Hall of Fame, and he makes good use of her as a figure who can be terrifying, sometimes tragic, and weirdly humorous at times.
However, I’m not saying it’s my favorite King book. (Probably The Stand or the last Dark Tower hold that honor.) Why wouldn’t his best book be the one I enjoy most? Because he did just too good of job on making us feel Paul’s pain. Sure, this is a book about a man who suffered a terrible accident and then found himself brutalized at the hands of a psychopath so it makes perfect sense that Uncle Stevie would want us to ache along with Paul. Yet, it’s very hard to spend an entire book with a main character who is almost always at some level of agony without feeling worn down by it. It’s necessary for the plot, but it also makes it a slog at times.
So it's definitely among King’s best, but it's also one I haven’t read it nearly as many times as some of his others because it’s simply too damn tough to get through at times. Still it’s a 5 star ride if you grit your teeth and keep reading as Paul keeps on writing.
Damn, I can never get over that one scene!!! She's bat sh•t crazy!
Happy Reading! 🎃👻
To celebrate completing a novel, writer Paul Sheldon goes on a champagne-fueled drive in the Rocky mountains. He winds up in a near fatal car crash, but never fear. He's rescued by Annie Wilkes, his #1 fan...
I watched the film version of Misery in those antediluvian days before Goodreads, hell, before the Internet, and decided to finally read the novel when it showed up on my BookGorilla email one day. It was $2.99 very well spent.
Misery is a tale of obsession, addiction, and obsession. I wrote "obsession" twice but it's a such a big theme I thought it was justified. Annie Wilkes is obsessed with her favorite series of books starring Misery Chastain, written by that dirty birdie Paul Sheldon. Paul is obsessed with finishing the book Annie has demanded of him and probably addicted to writing. Also to codeine.
I've said it before but I'll say it again. If Stephen King wasn't addicted to scaring the bodily fluids out of people, he'd be a literary writer of some renown. The guy can flat out write. Just because he cranks out a best seller more often than most of us go to the dentist doesn't mean he's the real deal.
The scariest horror stories are the ones that could actually happen and Misery is one of those. Who among us hasn't had visions of being held captive when driving through a remote locale? Annie is so much more than the scene-chewing maniac she could have been. She has dimension and believes she's in the right, which is the mark of a great villain. Her background is very fleshed out and my heart sank as I learned her past along with Paul. How the hell was he going to escape that monster?
Paul's journey is painful, both to him and to the reader, thanks to King's skill. I had to make sure my foot was still attached a couple times. Annie puts him through hell and he finally gives her a taste of her own medicine but the ending is far from happily ever after.
As is usually the case, the book was a notch better than the movie. I've been easy with the 5's this year but I'll give this one a cockadoodie 5 out of 5 stars just the same.
My whole life people have had a hard time handling my obsessive passionate personality. I don’t ever just like things- I’m either completely enamored with it or not all that interested. It’s just how I was made. My obsession with Harry Potter is seen as “excessive” and I’m constantly made fun of for my fondness of it. I get asked “aren’t you a little old for that” almost regularly and I have given up trying to respond because I really don’t feel it necessary to explain myself to anyone.
I am also ridiculed for my obsession with Stephen King. I find his writing to be nothing short of amazing and people who aren't fans of his just think he writes “that horror and gore crap”. Surely a serious reader can’t be a King fan. According to a lot of people I know it works the same way when flipped around- a King fan cannot be a serious reader. Well, I will tell you I am both. I am a King fan and and a serious reader.
But, I’m not always a serious reviewer.
For you all I have compiled a list. This list is my defense:
Reasons Why I’m NOT the Real Life Annie Wilkes
1.) I would never harm Stephen King in any way, shape or form. Not intentionally anyway- I may accidentally harm him by tripping over my own feet in a rush to get to him and crash into him causing him to fall through a window. Or I might tackle him from behind in an attempt to hug him fiercely. I might even bite him just to see if he’s real. BUT I would not hurt him.
2.) I have never killed anyone. (I think legally I am required to say that…)
3.)I don’t have an unlimited supply of any type of narcotic. I have a cousin who’s a doctor, but he’s of the Straight and Narrow variety.
4.) I don’t have…..
lapses in my thoughts.
5.) I understand the severity of an addiction and understand fully that King has struggled with it in his past, therefore I wouldn't get him hooked on a painkiller to make him completely dependent on me.
6.) I wouldn’t want to have Stephen King in my home. Don’t get me wrong, I have a beautiful home, but his house is way fucking cooler. I mean- gargoyles on a wrought iron gate that looks like a spiderweb?! HOW fucking awesome.
7.) Being that I want to be in his house so bad, I would just like to sneak in a back window and hide in a cupboard and live in his house without him knowing for as long as possible. I’d sneak a shower in his shower, smell his clothes, lie on his side of the bed, lick his typewriter…you know those kinds of things.
8.) I want to be friends with Stephen King- not make him fear for his life. I think if he were to meet me he’d be completely charmed by my glowing personality and welcome me as one of his own by saying: “Welcome to the family, kid!” or something along those lines.
9.) I’d order take-out instead of making him eat all that soup in the event that he was in my home. We could eat Chinese food while watching old horror flicks together. BFFFL.
10.) My final point- my name is Stepheny, not Annie, so I can’t be her.
All around this was a great read- you should totally check it out.
And for the record, Stephen King, you have nothing to be afraid of.
Your Number 1 Fan.