Written by: Matt Molgaard
Yeah, yeah: more Stephen King talk!
A fellow bibliophile and I were discussing upcoming horror releases recently, and while we had plenty of highly anticipated works to ramble on about, I noticed a trend in the direction my associate continually took: that being the “Stephen King Path”. After a long line of defense, in which Dean Koontz’s “The Moonlit Mind”, Joe Hill’s “NOS4A2”, Clive Barker’s fourth “Abarat” installment and Neil Gaiman’s deluxe edition of “The Books of Magic” all appeared at the forefront of my defense, I found myself relinquishing.
In all honesty I cannot think of a bigger, more relevant, higher anticipated piece of work on the docket than King’s sequel to the absolutely amazing novel, “The Shining”. “Doctor Sleep”, as it is to be called, has just about every pop culture media outlet talking up a storm. From literary sites to film sites, Doctor Sleep has wrangled more attention from the general audience than any legit genre novel I’ve seen in quite some time (I don’t even count crap like the Twilight novels). And the truth is, I completely understand the sweaty palms and the calendar checks: who doesn’t want to read a follow up to one of King’s undisputed masterpieces? The quality of the man’s work speaks for itself, and the quality of “The Shining” in specific certainly speaks testament to the potential that stirs in this storyline.
But the more we discussed King (I know I’ve spoken of the man quite a bit as of late), the more I began to question the impact a novel might actually have in today’s consumer landscape. People aren’t buying print much anymore, and ebooks are indeed purchased, but they’re pirated post point of sale with no hesitation by (seemingly) every other buyer alive. The times have changed, technology has evolved (I’m not certain I’d say in the best of manners) and theft has expanded exponentially, to put it mildly. “Blockbusters” seem near obsolete in the literary (and audio) realm these days. That factor has me questioning the potential impact of King’s forthcoming sequel. Could “Doctor Sleep” truly reel the fans back in, and could it actually influence so-called fans to dip into their wallets to support what promises to be a wild journey of the imagination? Especially knowing we’ll see a hardcover drop at around $30 long before we see a paperback release?
for that matter i wonder: do book sales even matter at this point?
Will “Doctor Sleep” not be read by quite a few million fans regardless of whether the book sales reach 100,000 or 10,000,000 units sold? Is King not already wealthy enough to buy everything that blossoming authors can manifest in their imaginations, and then some? Is the story not likely to receive a cinematic transfer (come on, we all know King’s print to screen ratio is off the charts) before long anyway? We know the answer to these questions, and we know that – barring a major brain fart – King is likely to conjure a piece of admirable art and walk away with millions in the bank account to accompany a serious sense of gratification having provided a rewarding follow up to one of his most prized treasures.
There’s always a chance king fumbles the ball: it happens to everyone from time to time. The relevance of this particular piece of fiction leads me to believe however, that King has travel great lengths to ensure fans get everything they could possibly hope for.
It’s more than likely Stephen King wins, and that’s the major moral of the story. But fans win as well. In truth, there’s no novel I’m anticipating more than “Doctor Sleep”. There’s no genre sequel slated to be released that I’m more eager to get my hands on; no life I’m hungrier to leap back into than Danny Torrance. And that stone cold, unwavering realization has forced me to succumb in debate.
I don’t think we’ll see a horror novel released inside the next half decade (if not more) that will garner more attention than “The Shining’s” sequel, and I don’t think we’ve seen a story released in the last 10 years that can claim to tote the pre-release hyperbole of “Doctor Sleep”. Note: We have seen some releases that far surpassed expectations as of late, such as Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, Scott Smith’s “The Ruins”, and Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones”.
I believe what it comes down to now is the experience of it all. Taking the tale in, revisiting the world of the Torrance’s (poor Danny’s got to be a serious headcase by now), remembering – on a tangible level – the shockwaves caused by “The Shining”. The Overlook Hotel. “The Shining” is a character study that still sits in the bowels of those familiar with the story, and it’s that power, that longevity and fan dedication that gives me no choice but to agree with my unnamed associate: there is no bigger novel release planned than that of “Doctor Sleep”, at least not when it comes to the macabre and sinister. King isn’t necessarily one to pursue story’s and venture into sequel territory: the fact that he’s opted to do so in this instance has me convinced we’re on the verge of being gifted something truly amazing.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve got to wait until September of 2013 to get our hands on the next massive blockbuster to hit book stands.
If you’re unaware of what “Doctor Sleep” is all about, you can check out the novel’s synopsis real quickly (below), but I’ve got to implore you to reserve your judgement for official release. I know this sounds like an outlandish twist on a bare bones tale of possession and haunting, but when it comes to the almighty Stephen King, you just never know how a story turns out!
The book’s synopsis reads as follows: “On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.”