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Week In Review

The 168 Turnaround: The Shining Sequel

THIS WEEK: Sep. 25 – Oct. 1, 2011

The Week At Large
Boobies:  apparently not appreciated by all farmers—superstar Rihanna’s boobies to be more precise.  Early this week, a Northern Ireland farmer demanded the singer leave his property after he spotted her topless while filming a music video for her latest single, “We Found Love.”  Speaking of singers who are often admired for their alluring physical attributes, Shania Twain can now breath a sigh of relief, what with her alleged stalker suddenly standing up in court and declaring that he was changing his plea to guilty.  It’s because of these kinds of crazy people that many artists avoid the public.  Such was the case with popular American/Canadian novelist John Irving (The World According To Garp), who has recently had a change of heart and joined Facebook.  This alone wouldn’t amount to much, except for the fact that it was on Facebook that Irving announced the release of his thirteenth novel, In One Person, which will hot book store shelves in May 2012.

The Close Up
It’s no secret—I’m a big fan of author Stephen King.  I’ve read every novel he’s ever published, and will damn near fight to the death defending his literary might (that’s right, literary might).  With that said, however, I don’t think his most iconic works, such as Carrie and The Stand, are his best works.  As far as I’m concerned, King was at his best when he wrote Bag of Bones and Hearts in Atlantis in the late nineties.

Author Stephen King

King’s third novel, however, is the exception.  First published in 1977, The Shining is truly a ghost story to be reckoned with.  And please don’t confuse the novel with Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation.  I like the film, but it’s a cold beast with no heart.  The novel, however, is a story of considerable warmth and strong character development.  Forget this “horror” business; think of The Shining as a tragedy with supernatural elements.

And so when news hit that King is almost finished writing a sequel to The Shining, I couldn’t help but cringe…just a little bit, anyway.  This new book, titled Dr. Sleep, finds the young Danny Torrance now in his forties and working as an orderly at a hospice for the terminally ill.  Somewhere along the line (King’s been a bit vague on the details), Danny encounters The Tribe, a malicious group of people who are similar to vampires, only instead of blood, they are drawn to a person’s psychic energy.

As a reader, I generally don’t enjoy sequels; nine times out of ten, I prefer stand-alone novels.  But, again, there are exceptions.  For me, the best sequels are those that can stand on their own because they are written from a different perspective and in a different style than the original story, and have a unique and compelling story that broadens our understanding of the central character(s).

King's 3rd novel

Believe it or not, outside of The Dark Tower Series, King has written only one other sequel.  And if you’ve read that sequel, Black House, then you know that it is a very different novel than its predecessor, The Talisman (incidentally, both novels were co-written by Peter Straub).  And, really, Black House is a great novel all on its own.

So, yes, I cringed upon hearing of a sequel to The Shinning.  Though I hate to say so, part of me did wonder (like many others, I’m sure) if King had finally run out of ideas.  To be honest, however, I truly suspect that he hasn’t.  Like Black House, Dr. Sleep sounds like a new perspective from a familiar character, and a perspective that is likely more nuanced and thoughtfully composed.

In the end, I guess it comes down to a matter of faith.  As you might guess, I do have faith that Stephen King still has a few more good stories to tell.

But what of the inevitable Hollywood film adaptation of Dr. Sleep?  Like the child who’s just watched his first monster movie, I’ll close my eyes and pretend such horrors don’t exist.

The 168 Turnaround is a week-in-review column, a place for me to reflect on the week’s most interesting pop culture news items.  If it mattered to me or I think it might matter to you, then it will be here.  If I’ve overlooked an important news item, or if you have a comment or question, please leave a response below.  Thank you for reading.

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