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Misery by Stephen King

Misery (edition 1998)

by Stephen King

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9,290128323 (3.95)208
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1998), Edition: 1, Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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Misery by Stephen King


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Paul Sheldon is a novelist who has earned his fame writing romance novels about an up-tight Victorian named Misery Chasten. Paul has grown tired of this series and wants to break free of this cast of characters he has grown to despise. He finally manages to end the cycle he has been pigeonholed into by killing off the title character Misery; freeing himself up to take his writing in a new direction. In celebration of his new found freedom, he has a wee bit too much drink and crashes his car in Colorado. Unfortunately for him, he was found. Found by his #1 fan, Ms. Annie Wilkes. Thus begins months of torture for Sheldon as he is held captive by Annie until he resurrects his own creation and brings the Misery series back to life.

I prefer Stephen King novels where he has a larger cast of characters to work with. In Misery, we spend nearly the entire novel in Paul Sheldon’s head and we miss out on the multiple character interactions that occur when there is more of an ensemble cast. King makes the physical and psychological torture palpable, but for me Sheldon’s inner monologues grew a little stale.

The novel is well written and extremely disturbing. Annie Wilkes could be one of the most evil and villainous characters King has created (at least at the time this novel was published). Fans of psychological horror will enjoy this book. Not my favorite book by King, but absolutely worth the read. ( )
  JechtShot | Jul 13, 2016 |
I didn't finish this book, but in this case, that's something of a compliment.

I'm a reader who's usually pretty good at keeping a certain emotional distance as I read, but "Misery" got right under my skin. Paul's suffering was so intense I finally had to stop reading.
  Jeslieness | Jun 14, 2016 |
Excellent, suspenseful, violent, PAINFUL. I love how King took the idea of a writer being kidnapped and kept captive by a "#1 fan." Anne Wilkes is a fascinating, mentally deranged character. She really shines in this book. Some of the scenes were horribly disturbing and the protagonist, Paul, is written in dire straights kept captive in the bed due to his weakness, being drugged, and then being physically maimed. The very end with the hallucinations and the paranoia wrap this up wonderfully as a horrifying experience. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Stephen King never disappoints. Misery is, of course, a horrifying tale of a writer trapped and tortured by a lunatic. But, it is also much more...it is a semi-autobiographical tale about King himself. The struggles he faces as a writer, including crazy fans, the pressures of producing more novels, and the battles of drug addiction are all alluded to in this crazy tale. He is one of the true masters of horror, and this also includes discussing his own personal horrors with us as well. ( )
  rsplenda477 | May 15, 2016 |
After reading ‘The Stand’ while I was still in school I became a huge fan of Stephen King, and read most of his subsequent books up to ‘Thinner’ (published under his pseudonym of Richard Bachman). I am not really sure why I stopped reading him then. Perhaps I become less enamoured of fiction involving the supernatural in general. I had also been a keen reader of science fiction up until my early twenties, though that was another genre I largely left behind.

In the last couple of years I have rediscovered Stephen King through his excellent books ‘Mr Mercedes’ and ‘Finders Keepers’, both of which feature Bill Hodges and his posse, and are straight crime novels. The latter of those featured an over enthusiastic literary fan, and the reviews offered a lot of comparisons to King’s ‘Misery’, published almost thirty years earlier.

‘Misery’ is a great book, utterly gripping from the outset, and while the villain of the work is a larger than life character, everything is grounded in the real world. No intrusions from the supernatural, though the horror is still there in the shape of a twisted character driven by obsession and psychosis. The plot is fairly simple but completely captivating.

Best-selling novelist Paul Sheldon has just completed his latest novel and celebrates by drinking rather too much champagne and then, ignoring warnings of an impending snowstorm, attempting to drive through the Rockies. The storm takes hold and he skids off the road. Fortunately, he does not hit anyone else, but, less fortunately, he is badly injured in the crash and passes out in the wreckage of his car. The next thing he knows he is in bed with horrific injuries to his legs. His rescuer is former nurse Annie Wilkes who, it turns out, is a huge fan of Sheldon’s books, particularly those featuring his character Misery Chastain, an adventuress in Victorian England. The series of novels featuring Misery has been immensely successful, far outselling Sheldon’s other books. He had, however, come to hate the character, seeing her as a millstone preventing him from the proper exercise of his literary skill, and in the most recent volume he had succeeded in killing her off. As it happens, Annie Wilkes has only just started reading that latest book.

Sheldon is unsure why Annie Wilkes has not taken him to hospital, and gradually comes to realise that she has only the most tenuous hold on sanity. This becomes apparent as her disgust at the fate that Sheldon directed towards Misery Chastian, which provokes a dreadful rage which she takes out on Sheldon, withholding the painkillers that she had, thitherto, been dispensing to him. Annie’s fragile grasp on reason becomes increasingly evident, and Sheldon is pitched into a dreadful ordeal as he tries to placate her while wondering how (or even if) he can escape.

The book treats a lot of serious issues: mental health, obsession, the art of writing and addiction. Sheldon offers all sorts of insights, presumably channelling King himself, into how he develops a plot, fleshes out characters and constructs a book. He also shows great self-awareness as to his own qualities, and the frustration that his ‘potboilers’ featuring Misery consistently outsell his other, more serious’ works.

The book was published in 1987 around the time, as I understand, that King’s family stage a major intervention to address his own addictions (alcohol, various prescription medicines and other illegal drugs). Sheldon proves an interesting vehicle for analysis of these problems – he had already been a drinker and smoker, and owing to the circumstances of his imprisonment by Annie Wiles he can feel himself becoming addicted to the powerful painkiller that she feeds him.

The novel is a great success. King maintains the tension throughout, and there is a frightening plausibility about the whole story. I just feel rather sad that I didn’t read it nearly thirty years ago when it first came out. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Apr 22, 2016 |
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When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche
Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery.

-- Montaigne
It's no good. I've been trying to sleep for the last half-hour, and I can't. Writing here is a sort of drug. It's the only thing I look forward to. This afternoon I read what I wrote. . . . And it seemed vivid. I know it seems vivid because my imagination fills in all the bits another person wouldn't understand. I mean, it's vanity. But it seems a sort of magic. . . . And I just can't live in this resent. I would go mad if I did.

-- John Fowles

The Collector
"You will be visited by a tall, dark stranger," the gipsy woman told Misery, and Misery, startled, realized two things at once: this was no gipsy, and the two of them were no longer alone in the tent. She could smell Gwendolyn Chastain's perfume in the moment before the madwoman's hands closed around her throat.

"In fact," the gipsy who was not a gipsy observed, "I think she is here now."

Misery tried to scream, but she could no longer even breathe.

-- Misery's Child
"It always look data way, Boss Ian," Hezekia said, "No matter how you look at her, she seem like she be lookin' at you. I doan know if it be true, but the Bourkas, dey say even when you get behin' her, the godess, she seem to be lookin' at you."

"But she is, after all, only a piece of stone, Ian remonstrated.

"Yes, Boss Ian," Hezekia agreed. "Dat what give her powah.

-- Misery's Return
This is for Stephanie and Jim Leonard, who know why. Boy, do they.
First words
umber whunn

yerrnnn umber whunnnn


These sounds: even in the haze.
"I'm your number-one fan!"
Then he would look at the blank screen of his word processor for awhile. What fun. Paul Sheldon's fifteen-thousand-dollar paperweight.
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Book description
Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader - she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work-just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don't work, she can get really nasty... (0-451-15355-3)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451169522, Mass Market Paperback)

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 unpredictable muse.

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. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

After a car crash, writer Paul Sheldon is saved by his number one fan. She brought him home, splinted his mangled legs, and all he had to do in return was write a very special book, one all about her favourite character. Because if he didn't, if he was bad, she would be cross - very cross.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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