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The Green Mile (1996)

by Stephen King

Series: The Green Mile (1-6)

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12,219162511 (4.26)1 / 306
Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:Masterfully told and as suspenseful as it is haunting, The Green Mile is Stephen King's classic #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks.
Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk "the Green Mile," the lime-colored linoleum corridor leading to a final meeting with Old Sparky, Cold Mountain's electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities over the years working the Mile, but he's never seen anything like John Coffey‚??a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about John Coffey‚??a truth that will challenge his most cherished beli… (more)
  1. 40
    Different Seasons by Stephen King (sturlington)
    sturlington: If you enjoyed The Green Mile, you should read King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, contained in this collection.
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Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
Almost thirty years on, I'm finally reading this as a single novel. The first time, I read it in the monthly installments that came out, and enjoyed the heck out of it.

But this time? This novel has struck me like no other King novel. King has scared me. King has tugged at my heart. King has shown me evil and good, wonder and despair. He's made me laugh and made my cry. He's created characters that I loved and characters that I've despised, and even characters that have been incredibly close to people I know in real life.

He has never written a book that's affected me the way this one does. Even reading it for the second time, knowing some of the twists at the end, King's writing, his story, his storytelling, his characters, his situations...they hit me.

When a book hits me like this, I literally feel my mind splitting into two different, but equally active modes:

The first is the Reader, who still continues to move through the story, immersed in the story, and enjoying every word as it carries me on the path that King has woven. This is the part of me that's deeply affected.

The second is the Writer, who steps back a bit and sneaks over to that curtain and lifts it to take an admiring look at the inner workings of the story, the mechanics that King built so carefully and put in place to make this entire machine work so well. This is the part of me that's impressed and also trying to learn from it.

King has always been good at creating his everyman characters. They aren't rich, they aren't overly exciting...they're just you and me, but thrown into extraordinary circumstances. He's also been pretty good at creating those meaner characters, the bullies and the brutes. He's also created a lot of very good exceptional characters, Carrie White, Danny Torrance, Charlie McGee, Johnny Smith, and he's done it again with John Coffey. So, it's not these that make this novel special. They're what make it a King novel.

I think it comes down to two things.

The first is the incredible set pieces that King builds into this novel. Coffey with the two girls in the field. The first death of Mr. Jingles. William Wharton's arrival. The very bad death of Eduard Delacroix. Coffey with Melinda. Coffey with Percy, and Percy with Wild Bill, and two more scenes toward the end of the novel that enter into spoiler territory. I don't know that King's created a novel and packed such powerful scenes into it since maybe THE SHINING or IT. His novels all have one or two, but nine or ten? No. So, that's one. King was on fire with this one.

The other is how much King was able to dig into life and death and the consequences of both. How he was able to talk about the influence and indifference of God. And how he was able to build such nobility and pathos into his flawed characters that it literally hurts to see them in pain.

I don't think King ever wrote another novel like this, one so deeply affecting. But I will say, to anyone who ever doubts the man can write, this will always be the one I'll point to to prove them wrong. ( )
  TobinElliott | Feb 17, 2024 |
Former prison guard and nursing home resident Paul Edgecombe tells the story of John Coffey, a prisoner that he looked after back when he was the head guard on Death Row (the "Green Mile") in a Depression-Era penitentiary. Coffey is a giant of a man, but simple-minded, and has been convicted of raping and killing two young girls. There are lots of story lines, ranging from a severe urinary tract infection to a magical mouse, but the main show involves Coffey's supposed guilt, and a special power that he seems to possess. I won't spoil any more of the plot.

All of King's novels have a type of character who is a straight shooter, and a moral person, and brave, and ready to mix it up if honor so dictates. This character type is presented too abundantly in this work for my taste, and I just felt like a lot of the devices were over-the-top in asking for our involvement. For a setting and group of characters that presents so many opportunities for moral shading, I just felt like there was too much black and white.

That said, this novel has a lot going for it. There are several interlocking stories and subplots, and they all gel together very nicely. I also found the ending, which takes place in the frame story at the nursing home, to be unusually satisfying. And the narrator, Paul Edgecomb, really is a very likable fellow, and seeing him at two different stages of his life really makes the reader think about aging, and the elderly.

So many of King's novels deal with a battle between spiritual forces of good and evil, but this book almost seems to be more about magic, and the change is refreshing. There are fewer explanations for the phenomena that we see, but that preserves an air of mystery and wonder about them happening. Sometimes explanations are nice, but I think that in this case, King makes a wise decision by leaving some things open for interpretation. ( )
  b00kdarling87 | Jan 7, 2024 |
There are very few books that have made me absolutely break down and sob, and this was one of them. The story is so real; I've never wanted to reach into a story and help so badly before. Stephen King has penned a masterpiece with this book. ( )
  xxMOONLITsky | Aug 30, 2023 |
* all reviews come from web comments*
Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with ‚ÄúOld Sparky,‚ÄĚ Cold Mountain‚Äôs electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he‚Äôs never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs...and yours.
  TeacherCarrieP | Aug 28, 2023 |
another all time favorite King book for me. yes the movie is amazing as well and i dont think you can go wrong with either.

the characters are great and and even knowing the out come this book will tug on your heart strings for how tragic this story can get. its also not a long book but it some how manages to fit in so much great contend which is impressive.

so you want a great prison drama and you never read a King book before. i think this book is a good gate way into Kings work and proves that he is more then just a horror writer. i know many people who are not a fan of horror and still think thats all what King does but this book will change those peoples minds if they read it. ( )
  XanaduCastle | Aug 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
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[Introduction] Wednesday night . . . early September . . . the end of a long, late summer day.
[Foreword: A Letter] Life is a capricious business.
This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain.
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Atonement was powerful; it was the lock on the door you closed against the past.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This isn't actually just one volume, but a collection of six separate parts of the whole...
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Fiction. Literature. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:Masterfully told and as suspenseful as it is haunting, The Green Mile is Stephen King's classic #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks.
Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk "the Green Mile," the lime-colored linoleum corridor leading to a final meeting with Old Sparky, Cold Mountain's electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities over the years working the Mile, but he's never seen anything like John Coffey‚??a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about John Coffey‚??a truth that will challenge his most cherished beli

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At Cold Mountain Penitentiary, along the lonely stretch of cells known as the Green Mile, killers await death, whilst their guards watch over them. Good or evil, innocent or guilty, none of them have ever seen the likes of brutal new prisoner John Coffey, seemingly a devil in human form.
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