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review 2017-04-21 22:36
Misery - Stephen King

What could I possibly add to what has already been said about this astounding novel in the last thirty years? It is a bonafide King classic, an excellent entry in the man's oeuvre by virtually any standard of judgement. Kick-ass villain? Check. Tightly-wound plotting? Check. Believable situation? Check. Avoidance of cliché? Check. Likable protagonist? Check. Appropriate ending? Check. In Misery, King does what is so rare for authors to do (especially authors who are fifteen or so years into their career, as King was in 1987) — he gets everything right.


I have a very special relationship with this book. It was the very first thing I ever read by Stephen King, years ago. At the time, I had a friend who was a big fan of the guy and raved about his works whenever he got a chance. I loved to read when I was growing up, but I lost interest around the age of 13 or so. I had begun to outgrow the stories I loved as a (younger) kid and hadn't yet found anything I liked as a young teen. Finally, at the insistence of said King-loving friend, I checked the 'K' section at my local library. Lo and behold, I found a mess of his novels and didn't know where to start. Under the Dome was King's latest release then, and while it seemed interesting, I suspected I would never make it through its 1,000+ pages. Maybe one day, I told myself. After sweaty, anxious scanning of all the King titles on my town library's shelves, I texted my friend and asked for suggestions. He immediately responded with something I'll never forget: "They're all good. Just don't get Dreamcatcher. It sucks ass."


Alright! Feeling moderately liberated, I felt relief in the knowledge that I could check out any of the titles before me without worry of it being a time-waste (besides Dreamcatcher, mind you). Finally, I noticed a slimmer volume, its one-worded title in a font that looked like blood: MISERY, it said. The hardcover's art immediately gripped me, as did the goofy-ass author photo on the back — that photo still cracks me up, by the way. Say sorry, Sai King!

To the checkout counter I went, with Misery (and The Stand, if memory serves — though I did not even attempt that one before its due date) in hand. A few days later I went on vacation with my family to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We camped out.... in tents.... in an RV park. Oi. It rained almost everyday, and when it wasn't raining it was almost a hundred degrees. But that trip wasn't so bad — after all, I had Misery. I remember sitting in the tent I shared with my sister, holding the book in my clutches, eagerly drinking in the story by flashlight as the rain pelted down. Ah, good times. Funnily enough, it was not until a few months after that trip that I read another novel by SK.



That one — Christine — is what turned me into the fanboy I am today. But Misery laid the groundwork, and pushed me to expand my literary interests in the first place.

So what was it? What was it that I loved (and love) so much about Misery? Why, it's King's commentary on the writing process, of course. I'm a pre-published (he said optimistically) writer, which made this story more appealing now than it ever was before. While I don't write in the same genre as King — horror and suspense are not comfortable to me — his words of advice on the craft are endlessly fascinating, and so helpful. The stories and novels in which King deals with the arts and the impact it has on everyday life are my favorites, just because those are the titles I relate to most.


And let us not forget the vividly drawn characters — Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes. I love to write, therefore I dig Paul and can feel for him. Of course. However, I also have more than a little bit of Annie in me. I'm obsessive, lonely, paranoid, depressive, manic. Just being honest. I feel for her. I feel her pain, her turmoil, her ideology — even when she's wielding an ax or chopping up coppers with a lawnmower. What kind of person does that make me?


The reader can sympathize with all of King's characters, even the most despicable ones. That's the mark of a truly great writer, and it's a lesson I've tried to apply to my own stories. In fact, Annie is so well-realized that I'm always heartbroken over her death. I know she deserved it. I know that. But . . . still. It's a hard one, at least for me. I love Annie Wilkes.


So, yeah. This has been a shit review. Apologies! Didn't know what to say that hasn't already been said, so I decided to go with whatever came out. Hope you stuck around, and thanks for reading!


King connections:


Pg. 103 - Paul imagines the voice of his typewriter as being that of a 'teenage gun-slinger'.

Pg. 192 - The phrase 'off the beam' is thought of by Paul. Is that a Dark Tower reference? Almost certainly. The Drawing of the Three was released in 1987 too, so it was definitely on King's mind.

Pg. 194 - Events from The Shining, namely the Overlook Hotel burning down, are mentioned by Annie. And there's the fact that this novel takes place in Colorado, which puts this one firmly in the same universe as that which is occupied by the Torrances.


Favorite quote:


“As always, the blessed relief of starting, a feeling that was like falling into a hole filled with bright light.
As always, the glum knowledge that he would not write as well as he wanted to write.
As always the terror of not being able to finish, of accelerating into a brick wall.
As always, the marvelous joyful nervy feeling of journey begun.”

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review 2016-11-17 17:08
Choose Your Own Misery, The Holidays by Mke MacDonald
Choose Your Own Misery: The Holidays - Mike MacDonald,Jilly Gagnon

This was an interesting and non-traditional format for a book. You get to pick what direction your story goes. I found it a little fun and annoying in turns. What I chose was a pretty short story. I would say that this guy had a few pretty rotton days. It's complicated by that guy not being real decisive. I received this book for free and I voluntarily chose to Review it. I've given it a 4* rating

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review 2016-08-17 19:23
Choose Your Own Misery: The Holidays - Mike MacDonald,Jilly Gagnon

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

If you are of a certain age, you remember, most likely with fondness, those Chose Your Own Adventure books. You know where you flipped to different pages depending on what action you chose to do. (You also most likely remember games like Zork and King’s Quest where you typed in commands). Those books seemed to end most of the time with the reader being eaten by wild dogs, trapped in a sewer, imprisoned by Santa Claus. In other words, a very messy ending.

But that was part of the charm.

Something that MacDonald and Gagnon seem to realize. This is a Choose Your Adventure for the Real World. In other words that holiday that should be fun but is so loaded with everything from family drama, perfection stress, and what not – Christmas. The pair of authors not only parodies the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but also how people fuss during the holidays.

It’s not a perfect book – the basic assumption is still that the reader is straight male, but that’s part of the parody. MacDonald and Gagnon incorporate that beautiful into various jokes. Play attention to the names that they use as well.

Wonderfully funny.

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review 2016-08-05 23:04
Teacher Misery: Helicopter Parents, Special Snowflakes, and Other Bullshit - Jane Morris

Morris recounts her experiences as a teacher over the course of several years.
At first, I found myself amazed that any teacher had to put up with the behaviors of students, parents, and educators, that the author described. Truly horrifying to have to go to work and deal with that!
Eventually though, I found myself becoming weary of the author's stories. I had to ask myself, why did she go into teaching in the first place? And if she found no joy in the teaching, why did she stay so long? It just seemed that she was a bit mean-spirited, and I ended up wondering if it was truly the students or just her perceived perceptions of them?
Either way, I found the book to be exhausting. I hope that the author finds something rewarding to do with the rest of her life.
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

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review 2016-07-25 02:41
Misery - Stephen King

I call myself a Stephen King fan (not his number one fan), but I had somehow never read Misery. Oops. I have seen the movie several times, though, if that counts. I found a copy of the book at a used bookstore and started reading it immediately. It did not disappoint.


Most of you know this story, right? A bestselling author, Paul Sheldon, gets drunk and crashes his car in the remote mountains of Colorado. He wakes up in the home of Annie Wilkes, his “Number one fan.” In exchange for saving his life, Annie wants Paul to write a book especially for her. If he doesn’t do it correctly, she has a fondness for amputating limbs . . .


“I am in trouble here. This woman is not right.” – Misery


Annie Wilkes is one of the most iconic horror villains (and most intense bookworms) of all time. There’s a good reason for her infamy: She’s completely terrifying! From the outside, she doesn’t seem threatening. She’s a frumpy middle-aged woman who’s scared to say a curse word. But once Paul and the reader get to know Annie, her unpredictability becomes unsettling. Any tiny thing can get her angry. She’s freakishly strong and not as simple-minded as she acts. The suspense in this story builds slowly, but there’s always a sense of anticipation. Annie is so violently insane that the reader never knows what she will do next. Each of Paul’s missteps causes him to lose a body part.


This book is surprisingly self-reflexive. I wasn’t expecting that when I started. It’s a book about books and the writing process. Paul is a 1980s Scheherazade who must please Annie with his stories to save his own life. Misery is basically a 300-page love letter to the writing process. Well, it’s a love letter interspersed with gory amputations and murder-by-lawnmower, but it’s still a love letter.


Annie takes everything from Paul. She strips away his smoking and drinking habits and prevents him from leaving her house. She destroys his body and gets him addicted to painkillers. The only thing she can’t take from him is his desire to create. Writing gives him a reason to live and allows him to mentally escape from his horrible situation. Even though Paul is in constant danger, he writes the best book of his career because he needs to write to stay sane. Writing is safe. It’s the only thing he can control. The reader can really feel his passion.


“In a book, all would have gone according to plan . . . but life was so fucking untidy — what could you say for an existence where some of the most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren't even any chapters?” – Misery


Misery is fiction, but it provides insight into the mind of an author. If you don’t care how books are made, you might find parts of Misery slow. There is a lot of writing-talk. Luckily, I like that kind of insider knowledge, so I have no problem with it. It feels very honest.


In addition to being about writing, this book is about obsession. I’ve never really thought about how obsession can be both a positive and negative thing. Paul’s obsession with writing heals him while Annie’s obsession with Paul destroys him. They use their obsessions as weapons against each other. It’s an interesting battle-of-wills. The one who wins is the one whose obsession is strongest.


Like most Stephen King books, this one is hard to put down. Annie and Paul are well-developed characters who are eerily realistic. Their relationship is ferocious. The plot took a little while to get going, but once I was hooked, I read most of the book in one sitting. It’s compulsively readable.


The scariest horror stories are the lifelike ones. What I love most about Misery is that it’s easy to imagine something like this happening in real life. 


Misery isn’t my favorite Stephen King book, but it’s pretty high up on my list. I’m glad I finally had a chance to read it.

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