Biblio-Files: The Shining

Random musings on the books in my life

I’ve mentioned I had an…untraditional childhood. We were Jesus people. Hardcore believers. When you’re on the edges of the fundamentalist Christian movement, you don’t allow secular entertainment in your home. Our music was Christian, our movies, our tv shows and our books were carefully monitored to block the path of Satan into our hearts. It wasn’t an issue most of the time, and most of what we were allowed to do was just good, wholesome kid stuff. Little House On The Prairie was big, The Chronicles of Narnia, of course, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgeson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery. These were my love and my escape.

We left the church after my 5th grade year. I started middle school and began to wade into the pool of secularism. I was 11 or 12, and naive as hell. I don’t remember each specific step out of the world of Jesus. It was a gradual thing, coinciding with a new school and puberty. Lots of changes were happening and the details have faded. Except my first horror novel, The Shining by Stephen King.

I don’t remember where or how I ended up with the book. It was a paperback edition, with a silver cover and the outline of a boy’s head. I’m not sure exactly when I read it – but I was 12 or 13. I remember reading it in my basement room, staying up past my bedtime. I’d shove it between my bed and the wall every morning, draping my comforter over it, making sure it was hidden. Even with the relaxed rules, I knew that Stephen King was still too far for my parents to allow. It was a secret, forbidden and all the more interesting for that. But mostly it was scary as fuck.

A lot of the plot has blurred for me. There’s still the topiary garden that’ll pop up in nightmares. When I think ok it now, I think of dread, the suspense of the inevitable. It opened a wonderful new world in my reality. A world of regular people, not good or bad, fighting against the inexplicable. I still love when a book can do this well. Give me a believable character thrown into an unbelievable struggle and I’m in reading bliss.

I quickly devoured every other Stephen King book I could find. It and The Stand and Carrie and Misery, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Christine. I was probably too young to really understand most of what I was reading, but I loved them completely. And now, a sequel to The Shining has just come out, Doctor Sleep. So, I’ve started to reread The Shining in preparation for it. I’m 40 pages in and hooked all over again. It’s been really difficult to write this while it’s sitting hear, whispering for me to blow off everything, rush home, crawl under the covers and read until I’m done. Thank goodness it’s Friday, I don’t think I’m strong enough to resist that urge much longer.

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