I was honestly surprised to see that King keeps returning to Castle Rock. I thought he was done with his fictional town, but he keeps coming back. There's some nice callbacks to former novels and to his latest "Gwendy's Button Box" too. The main character in this one, Scott Carey bugs me a bit though (one of the reasons why I gave this just four stars). He decides he is going to force his friendship on a woman that doesn't want it (for good reasons) and there seems to be a slightly messed up message by King here that all things can be resolved when other people see you as human. Okay now I am wondering why I am giving this four stars. I just dropped it to three.
"Elevation" follows Scott Carey that is undergoing a strange change. He is steadily losing weight, but doesn't appear to be. He is not very worried about It (unlike most people) because it seems as if Scott is a bit...bored by life right now. His wife has left him and the cat. He has a big job dealing with reworking a department store and will have a lot of money he doesn't know what to do with it. And he has two neighbors (Missy and Deirdre) living next to him that he fixates on after their dogs keep using his lawn as a 24/7 dumping ground. When Scott takes a photo proving that the dogs are using his lawn, his neighbor Deirdre cold shoulders him even more than possible and Scott decides he is going to do what he can to make people in the town stop treating her and her wife like pariahs because lesbians are okay as long as they don't shove it in people's faces by being married. Yes this is a sentence that is said in this book.
I can't help it, I know I was supposed to like Scott. But he bugged me. It's implied due to what is happening to him, Scott fixates on Missy and Deirdre to help them so he doesn't have to worry about himself. I think it's just because Scott didn't like the idea of anyone disliking him. He defends Missy and Deirdre at the local diner and then goes to their vegetarian Mexican restaurant and has another mini-showdown with Deirdre. At that point I was just wondering where King was going with things. When Scott bets Deirdre he will beat her at the town's race in order once again to try to force an interaction there I started going "well isn't he a NICE guy" to myself. Seriously, I was getting Ted Mobsy vibes from Scott. That wasn't a good thing.
I get why Deirdre was hesitant to even be friends with people in Castle Rock. I really do wish we had an epilogue by Deirdre years later or even had her POV in this book since I thought her voice was more important than Scott's.
Scott's wife is referenced, but never heard from which I thought was a miss by King.
We do have Scott's friendship with Doctor Bob Ellis and his wife though. Eventually King shows that apparently all you need are food and wine and people will sit aside all of their prejudices (sarcasm)
The writing is typical King though there are moments when you can tell he wanted to call Donald Trump a few names. There are references to the latest election and how the town of Castle Rock voted. And to the messed up former Governor of Maine too (that guy was a hot mess). I did like how King was realistic that his fictional town wouldn't just be some liberal sanctuary in the midst of a state of red.
The flow was good, though at times I found my mind wandering. I think having the whole race showdown took something out of the story.
The ending was sad though. I felt a bit lonely and marveled a bit at what happens. I think if King had kept it to straight fantasy with some horror mixed in, this would have been a strong five star short story.