This last month we read Elevation by the King of Horror, Stephen King. The book is more novella than novel and when I announced the selection, most members were glad the book was short. Stephen King is the author of 62 novels, 20 collections, 32 novellas, and 11 non-fiction works, including On Writing, which was required reading in my younger daughter’s ninth-grade English class. King graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 with a degree in English. After graduation, he worked in an industrial laundry and then as a high school English teacher. His first major publication was Carrie in 1973. Even if we haven’t read any Stephen King, is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Carrie? A google search reveals that 83 films, television series and other remakes and adaptations have been made from King’s work.
So what did we think of Elevation? Most everyone liked the story. We found it easy to read, uplifting, and thought-provoking, even if a bit vague with details. Our first responder listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author. He found it a good book and particularly liked this well-placed summation, “She remembered something she’d read in college—Faulkner, maybe: Gravity is the anchor that pulls us down into our graves. There would be no grave for this man, and no more gravity, either. He had been given a special dispensation.”
Our second responder found three messages worth noting: The importance of friendship, making a difference the way Scott did for his neighbors and the town, and elevation as a good description of dying. Another of us liked the book and the characters but wondered, what did it really mean? It isn’t clear, although as the discussion bounced about the table, most felt that Scott’s acceptance and eventual ascension was his reaching a state of Nirvana. We wondered at descriptions of the book as “eerie” because none of us found it creepy at all.
One of us is a huge fan of Stephen King and felt a personal tie because so many of his works seem to reference places in Colorado, her own home ground. She considers his books less horror than weird, although she remembers reading Salem’s Lot in little bits because it was so scary. She believes that Stephen King trusts that his readers are smart enough to take what they need/want from his fiction.
We found plenty to discuss. After reading several blogs about the book, I had learned that King has been making some seriously anti-Trump tweets on twitter and I wondered if this book is his effort to practice what he preaches. I had found Scott Carey’s acceptance of his demise to be eerily similar to suicide and wondered if anyone else had considered this. Mostly, we were moved by the positive messages in the story. Scott elevated people all around him. His enemy, Deirdre, became his confidant. Were the numbers in the story significant? One of us particularly appreciated how she felt invested in the characters, unlike Magpie Murders! Another member remarked that the hallmark of a well-written book is that you don’t notice it—and we agreed that he is a good writer. We ended the discussion talking about closure and someone pointed out that the cover of the book shows the fireworks set off by Scott as he ascended.
Stephen King dedicated the story to Richard Matheson, who wrote The Shrinking Man and whose protagonist is also named Scott Carey. If any of us had read that book, or seen the movie adaptation, we might have had even more to discuss! As always, connections abound: Several members remembered a recent article about students standing up for a fellow student and reporting a substitute teacher for anti-homosexual shaming. Keep reading, think about it, discuss it, stay connected!
- Other Works Discussed:
- I am sure we discussed some, but I don’t remember anything other than what’s mentioned in the journal!
When I googled “which author is King of Horror?” the picture and biography of Stephen King appeared. At the library he is the go-to author when people ask for horror, but I never before wondered if his name helped him gain this moniker!
Elevation, listed as a novel, is 160 pages. In comparison, The Standis 1200 pages long and ITis 1184 pages!
Web accessed 12-12-2019: Looking past the general google search, I liked this list of his adaptations, https://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-king-novels-and-stories-adapted-movies-tv-shows
Random House Dictionary definition of Nirvana: “a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world.” Web accessed 12-12-2019: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nirvana?s=t
2018Publishers Weeklyreview referenced on the lvccld.org website: “In this surprisingly sweet and quietly melancholy short novel, King (The Outsider) weaves an eerie, charming tale of the ways that strange circumstances can bring people together.”
“What’s most surprising about “Elevation” is that this would seem the perfect moment for King to twist the fury of his Twitter feed.” Web accessed: 12-12-19: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/stephen-kings-halloween-book-is-shockingly–heartwarming/2018/10/29/82bc41f6-db1d-11e8-b3f0-62607289efee_story.html
“The political divisions running wild through the country are absolutely part of the story, which in the end turns out to be a wish-fulfillment tale in which people actually are able to be friendly despite their differences. All it takes is for the right spark to come along.”—Bryant Burnette. Web accessed 12-12-19: http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2018/11/a-brief-review-of-elevation.html
“Classmates act as boy with two dads draws sub’s wrath.” The Associated Press. Salt Lake City. Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV) – December 2, 2019 – page 4