by Stephen King
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It | Needful Things
In Misery (1987), as in The Shining (1977), a writer is trapped in an evil house during a Colorado winter. Each novel bristles with
claustrophobia, stinging insects, and the threat of a lethal explosion. Each is about a writer faced with the dominating monster of his
Paul Sheldon, the hero of Misery, sees himself as a caged parrot who must return to Africa in order to be free. Thus, in the novel within a
novel, the romance novel that his mad captor-nurse, Annie Wilkes, forces him to write, he goes to Africa--a mysterious continent that
evokes for him the frightening, implacable solidity of a woman's (Annie's) body. The manuscript fragments he produces tell of a great Bee
Goddess, an African queen reminiscent of H. Rider Haggard's She.
He hates her, he fears her, he wants to kill her; but all the same he needs her power. Annie Wilkes literally breathes life into him.
Misery touches on several large themes: the state of possession by an evil being, the idea that art is an act in which the artist willingly
becomes captive, the tortured condition of being a writer, and the fears attendant to becoming a "brand-name" bestselling author with
legions of zealous fans. And yet it's a tight, highly resonant echo chamber of a book--one of King's shortest, and best novels ever.
On The Flap
Stephen King is arguably the most popular novelist in the history of
American fiction. He owes his fans a love letter. Misery is it.
Paul Sheldon, author of a best-selling series of historical romances,
wakes up one winter day in a strange place, a secluded farmhouse in Colorado. He
wakes up to unspeakable pain (a dislocated pelvis, a crushed knee, two shattered legs) and
to a bizarre greeting from the woman who has saved his life: "I'm your number one
Annie Wilkes is a huge ex-nurse, handy with controlled substances and
other instruments of abuse, including an axe and a blowtorch. A dangerous psychotic
with a Romper Room sense of good and bad, fair and unfair, Annie Wiles may be Stephen
King's most terrifying creation. It's not fair, for example, that her favorite
character in the world, Misery Chastain, has been killed by her creator, as Annie
discovers when Paul's latest novel comes out in paperback. And it's not good that
her favorite writer has been a Don't-Bee and written a different kind of novel, a
nasty novel, the novel he has always wanted to write, the only copy of which now
lies in Annie's angry hands.
Because she wants Paul Sheldon to be a Do-Bee, she buys him a typewriter
and a ream of paper and tells him to bring Misery back to life. Wheelchair-bound,
drug-dependent, locked in his room, Paul doesn't have much choice. He's an
entertainer held captive by his audience. A writer in serious trouble. But
writers have weapons too...
Misery is a nightmare only Stephen King could have, and one only Stephen
King could render in such gruesome detail. Nice of him to share it with us.
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