Is it wrong that I don’t want to see the Carrie remake? That I didn’t like the movie and that it ranks up there as perhaps my least favourite of the well-written Stephen King books?
There are two kinds of Stephen King book; the really well-written and inspired ones, like _The Stand_ and _The Shining_ and the mediocre-to-awful ones that feel like he has to keep writing or die and this is what he came up with out of his perpetual motion typing. _The Dark Half_ maybe straddles the line, but others (like _The Dome_) don’t. If you think I’m wrong, just read about any review of any book he’s written in the last five years . Most of them say “Stephen King is BACK!” as though now he’s reclaimed his earlier glory instead of just churning out a thing or two every three months.
So what’s my problem with Carrie? I guess it’s that I strongly dislike the whole “periods are scary, motherhood is scary, faith is scary” theme. I can’t be the first woman out there who disliked having womanhood in all her seasons be the villain. I mean, I suspect that’s why it touched such a nerve–people ARE scared of women and were even more scared of women when the book came out. After all, we go to the hospital for Women’s Troubles but men get to have Prostate Surgery without whispering it or calling it Men’s Trouble. Why am I making a very stale feminist argument from 40 years ago? I don’t know. I guess maybe since they remade the movie I felt like I had to re-make my justification for not liking that particular story.
Carrie is obviously a novel that preaches, although it does so in a rather entertaining fashion. I wonder if there’s a metric that says how entertaining your story has to be for the message to hide effectively in the tale. I wonder this a lot when I read different didactic books. A Casual Vacancy, for instance. That book practically OPENS with “I am going to take the vanishing middle class to task for the oppression of the poor”. Of course I didn’t read more than 50 pages of that so I have no idea how it held up in the telling. But I suspect there was more of the same. It’s irritating when an extremely wealthy person derides the middle class for oppressing the poor. Like, really. A lot.
I suppose now is where I end up weaving the sidebar thoughts together with the main thought. (It had to happen sometime.) I think, as I think more closely about it, what bothers me most about Carrie is that it’s always been a story about a horror which is fully outside the author’s experience. I know you can’t write what you know and be interesting unless you’re living the life of Hemingway. (And even he, frankly, was not that interesting. Ultimately he was a drunk on an island with a bunch of weird cats.) Yet I also think if you are so fully-removed from the situation of your story it can be very hard to craft. I don’t know that Stephen King really understands getting your first period. I think he imagined a cartoon version of it and thew it onto paper.
I suppose this also explains my growing interest in speculative fiction. It’s more comfortable for me to vacation in a new universe than to accept ersatz versions of the one I currently live in.