Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carrie by Stephen King

photo: First edition cover, from its Wikipedia page

So this is the first adult book I ever read, when I was 7.  Which possibly explains a lot.  When I finished reading this, I thought, "I can do this!  I can do BETTER than this."  (See my profile for more on this.)  I've been writing stories and novels ever since, proving myself right, and wrong, at less than even intervals.  The phrase "a crow among swans" has stayed with me, for some reason.  Frankly, it's in one of the few really well-written sentences in the whole book.  Now-famous story of how his wife saved this from the trash and made him finish it, thereby leading eventually to the $400,000 advance from Doubleday, is perhaps better than the novel itself.  Made me realize that I've always needed a woman in my life to support my writing the same way--and to welcome the task of sifting through my own garbage, both mental and physical.  Made "dirtypillows" a common word in my vocabulary.  Carrie's mom now seems like your typical right-wing conservative--very scary, indeed, and very prescient.  Some of those guys and gals out there today, including Christine the non-witch, make Carrie White's mother seem completely normal by comparison.

Stephen King himself says he's a bit embarrassed about this one, as he perhaps should be.  Obviously an underwritten novella pushed to barely novel-length by some "interviews," "articles" and crude desk-carvings.  Some of the scenes are brilliant, if not brilliantly written, but they clearly formed the vision of De Palma's movie, which was almost brilliant.  And it started the whole career rolling, didn't it?  (And not just for King, but for De Palma, Sissy Spacek and John Travolta, as well.)  Ultimately an okay read that showed great promise, which is what most first-time books this side of Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird usually are.


  1. Carrie may not be King's best written work, which probably led him throwing it into the trash in the first place, but the story has always resonated with me on a personal level. I think he mentioned in "On Writing" how he was never fond of Carrie nor could he ever relate to her, but why would a man in his 30s understand the mind of young tormented high school girl? Yet, he wrote from his own experiences (basing her on two misfits he knew himself during his school years) and managed to produce a unique story with memorable characters, mainly Margaret White. I agree this is one of those rare instances where I find the 1976 DePalma film exceeds the book. I find great pleasure in watching Carrie at least once or twice a year. But that says more about my own issues than anything else. And the story still rings true today since there is yet another remake in the works.

    1. As I mentioned in a previous review, King manages to tap into a vein with everything he publishes. In this case, it's getting back at everyone who done us wrong in high school---or, perhaps, in life at any time. I can think of a few people I'd love to drop a pail of pig's blood on. Who can't? Of course, that says a lot about us as well.