Stephen King terrifies most when his stories most closely reflect everyday life. In Misery, King weaves together two familiar memes, throws in a couple of over-the-top bits of nastiness, and produces a novel which can terrify on two levels.
The story begins with Paul Sheldon waking in a strange place in incredible pain.
A few days before, Paul had typed the last page of Fast Cars, which he thinks is his best novel, way superior to the “Misery” series that made him rich and famous.
Somewhere in the Colorado Rockies, Paul crashed his car. He’s had the misfortune to be rescued by his “number one fan,” an ex-nurse.
Annie Wilkes can’t wait for Paul’s next book.
When she learns Paul killed off that novel’s lead character, Annie insists he write a novel just for her in which Misery Chastain doesn’t die.
Despite the blur of the pilfered drugs Annie feeds him, Paul realizes she’s a pathological killer and he will be her next victim.
The pathological killer in medical settings was already a familiar and terrifying figure in the ’80s.
Nearly 40 years later, we’re now getting accustomed to the other terror in King’s novel: The adoring fans determined to control the artists they idolize.
by Stephen King
Viking, 1987. 310 p.
1987 bestseller #4; my grade: A-
©2019 Linda G. Aragoni