CBR11Bingo – Cannonballer Says
I haven’t read On Writing, Stephen King’s non-fiction book about his chosen profession, but I doubt I could learn more about being a writer from it than I did from Misery. At once an allegorical look at all that being a writer entails and a gripping story in its own right, Misery is a wonder. A perfectly constructed, unbearably suspenseful, have to make it to the end of this chapter before bed novel.
Paul Sheldon, an author stand-in if there ever was one, is riding high upon the completion of his new novel when his car skids off the road and overturns in a snowbank in the middle of nowhere, Colorado. Both of his legs are badly broken. When a woman named Annie Wilkes pulls him out of the wreckage and takes him to her country house to recuperate, it might seem like a lucky break. However, as his stay at Annie’s place drags on without her contacting the authorities and controlling his medical care herself, Paul realizes the precariousness of his situation and his caretaker’s mental stability.
Coincidentally, Annie turns out to be a big fan of Paul’s novels, especially the romance/adventure series featuring Paul’s creation, Misery Chastain. Annie is not happy when she finds out that Paul’s new book isn’t a Misery novel, and she makes her displeasure known in a scene which will probably give all aspiring writers nightmares.
As Paul struggles to find escape from the near-perfect prison Annie has placed him in, he must also find ways of placating her and getting her out of her dark moods. That includes agreeing to write a brand new Misery novel, just for her. Without the distractions of everyday life keeping him away from his typewriter, Paul flies through a new story, rediscovering the joy of getting lost in creation even as his captivity is never anywhere but the front of his mind. Confined first to a bed alone and later able to use a wheelchair, Paul is still not close to being able to save himself, and instead has to work hard to hold on to hope that his whereabouts will be discovered.
King wrings as much tension as he can out of a man confined to a room with a crazy person as his only companion. The pacing of the story is spot on, as Paul learns more about his captor in drips and drabs, finally piecing together a horrible picture. Chilling and entertaining, Misery is top-level King and a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a writer.