Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Setting up some Misery for a Frightfall reading time

With October fast approaching, the time to sign up for the Seasons of Reading Frightfall Read-A-Thon is at hand. The guidelines are pretty simple, all you have to do is choose at least one scary book to read and discuss during October 5 and 11.

You can, of course, read more than one but I tend to narrow my focus here, due to the many TBR piles that I tackle(not to mention a special fall reading list that I put myself on).

Like I've done before with these readathons, I am going to reread a book that I haven't touched for quite a long time. I was thinking of borrowing a newer one but that might not work out for the time period in question here, besides any excuse to reread a book is a good one, in my opinion.

So, my pick for this Frightfall event is Stephen King's Misery, the 1987 thriller about a commercially successful writer who longs to be taken seriously and one of his Constant Readers who is deadly serious about him staying true to the stories she loves.

 The book has been on my mind lately, as a Broadway production is about to begin a limited run on stage. The script has been adapted to the stage by William Goldman(who also wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film version) and stars Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. While I'm not able to see the play, it does sound like a smart idea to turn this particular King story into one:

I remember when I first read the book, how very stage bound it seem and I mean that in a good way. One of my reading kicks in my youth was reading plays and the limited setting of Misery, along with the two character struggle for control that makes up the story, felt like it could be easily adapted for the theater.

The movie version does aid the casting for the play, as Bruce Willis can be seen as a likely candidate as Paul Sheldon due to James Caan, who originated the cinematic role, being a similar type of actor. The pressure will on strongly on Laurie Metcalf, however, as fellow stage dynamo Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her fearsome role as Annie Wilkes, the ultimate "Number One Fan":

Misery was seen as change of pace for King, as the fear factor here didn't come from a supernatural force or paranormal ability gone wild. The terror was simply a woman gone way over the edge, channeling her mental turmoil into a deluded love of a fictional character and it's creator.

You could see this as a slam against escapist fare but I really don't think that was the point trying to be made. King was channeling his own issues about fame, writing and overzealous fans,some of whom he ran into along the way.

I will be looking at some of that as I reread the book, along with the nature of celebrity fixation that borders on the dangerous there in fiction and film. Folks obsessing over the faces they see on TV, films and nowadays online have become an instant go-to for either the horror or thriller genre, sometimes even veering into dark comedy such as the 2000 movie Nurse Betty did, with it's heroine burying the shock of witnessing her husband's murder by willing herself into a character on her favorite soap opera:

That might turn into a whole other discussion but in the mean while, I do look forward to Misery. Annie Wilkes has become one of our most memorable modern day villains, the kind that gets quoted for such lines as "He didn't get out of the cockadoodie car!" and is on the AFI list of iconic cinematic menaces.

Her everyday nature is what is truly chilling, as her cheerful attitude hides a multitude of hideous thoughts and actions. You might run into someone like her in the supermarket or at your local book club, never suspecting the dark side of her soul.

 If the story was told from her point of view, she would no doubt frame her time with the captive Paul Sheldon as a romance novel come to life, one that wouldn't exactly end like a Hallmark channel type of happily ever after movie. No, it would be more suited to Lifetime, a channel that Annie would probably shun, preferring her own take on true love as terrifying as that would be:

1 comment:

Autumn said...

Hi, I am just stopping by as one of the people doing the #FrightFall read-a-thon this year. I haven't had a chance to read Misery though I have watched the movie and loved it. I may have to pick it up from my library one day and see how good it is.