Carrie – Stephen King

Everybody hates Carrie.

Poor Carrie White.  She gets it from everyone and she can’t even find solace at home.  Her Mother is a straight-up monster.  What happens when you push someone to their brink?  What happens when they have telekinetic powers?

A few years ago, I stepped into a used bookstore and I picked up a beautiful 40th anniversary edition from the UK publisher, PS Publishing, for $7.  Turns out it’s a limited printing (less than 1,000 copies) and is often listed for sale for hundreds of dollars online.  Not a bad deal!  Housed inside a decorative slipcase, the book has a handful of illustrations inside and both a foreword by author James Lovegrove and afterword by journalist Kim Newman.

I’ve been reading Stephen King books for some time now and for whatever reason, I’ve always put off Carrie.  I don’t think there is a particular reason.  Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve already read it as I know all the beats of the narrative.  There have been several movies, it’s been parodied endlessly in popular culture and it’s considered.. average?  Given that we’re on the brink of the spooky season and I need some horror to read, I figured, why not?

I thought the story was what it was.  By that, I mean I basically knew how this was going to go from the beginning and very little surprised me.  Is that a fair criticism?  Probably not.  Carrie’s mother, Margaret, is still a horrific human being that made my blood boil.  Turns out an easy way to get me to dislike a character is either make them an overbearing, guilt-tripping parent or a religious fanatic.  King, of course, had to make her overweight as well, considering he can’t seem to help himself with that trope.

The story itself felt like maybe it would have been better served as a novella, but it was still somewhat short (I finished this one in a day).  I think what lifts it above being just average was the decision to include excerpts from newspapers, books written by characters that survived Carrie’s path of rage and transcripts from inquiries and investigations.  Was anyone else doing this at the time the book was written?  I can see that being what attracted publishers right away.

Anyway, Carrie was alright.  Thanks to Tabitha for fishing this one out of Uncle Stevie’s trashcan so we could get The Shining, The Dead Zone and other truly exceptional work.

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