Stephen King,
(Doubleday, 1974; Signet,
1981; Pocket, 2002)

As with virtually everything Stephen King has written, this is enjoyable reading. It is also a quick-read for anyone who is intimidated by the length of some of the author's later works.

I think the basic premise of this story appeals to many people because Carrie is, in many ways, the ultimate underdog, a girl terrorized by an insanely religious mother, victimized and persecuted by her peers, and alienated from the world around her. Everyone in life has been a victim or a bully, and I think the story of Carrie White does impart an important lesson to the folks out there who are treating someone they know the way that Carrie's classmates treated her. For those of us more sympathetic to Carrie's plight -- the high school outcasts, the poor, the unpopular, the nerds, etc. -- the story really matters here. Many of us daydream about the revenge we will exact from those kids who made fun of us all those years ago, and Carrie shows us that revenge is not all it is cracked up to be. Carrie's "triumph" costs many innocent people their lives, and it doesn't really do a whole lot of good for Carrie herself.

You don't need me to tell you why you should read or re-read this book. This is Stephen King. By this point in time, unless you are just coming of age, you have already read this book if you are one of King's legions of fans or even if you were ever curious about this man's phenomenal success. Even more of you have probably seen the movie. While the movie was pretty faithful to the book, not even the magic of cinema can convey the true weight and atmosphere of this (or any other) book. Carrie is also King's first published novel. This is very important to would-be writers -- clearly, King was still learning his craft when he wrote this novel, and thus the process of reading it provides any potential writer with a great learning experience.

The format here is significantly different from King's more mature work. The story is told through several "voices," including a third-person account from a "survivor," extracts from research articles and newspaper items based on the events, as well as a more traditional author's voice. Thus, we get several perspectives on the characters and events. The story is not as fluid as it might be because we switch from one viewpoint to another as the tale unfolds.

While I much prefer the style of King's later works, especially in terms of getting inside a character, King still infuses Carrie's world with realism and believability, proving that he can create masterful atmosphere and mood with any number of literary tools.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 21 May 2005

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