So since this is the first book I’m covering, I figured I should go over the format a bit. I’m not going to review the books. I’m instead going to talk about points I found interesting, and I really do want to hear from people in the comments what they think about the book. So I highly suggest having read the book before reading the post, but if you don’t care and just want to hear what I have to say, then you can do that too. I’m not going to just do fiction, but will cover non-fiction as well. I hope that all makes sense, so here we go.
Now Carrie is Stephen King’s first novel. I was a little worried that knowing how it ends from having seen the ‘76 film would make it less enjoyable, but King doesn’t bury the event as a surprise for readers towards the end. Instead, it is clear from the beginning what’s going to happen to Carrie because the format is documentation style mixed in with shifting limited third. I often enjoy documentation style narratives, such as Dracula (the book), but Carrie‘s style is more similar to the movie District 9 than it is is to Dracula, because of the mix of limited third. The documentation style is often interesting because it brings to mind that you can’t know for certain if the characters writing are being perfectly honest. Diary is still a presentation of the self as opposed to the actual self. And official documentation has a lot of white spaces. More traditional narrative style typically tries to fill in those white spaces and present sides of the self that the character may wish to hide in all ways or is not even aware of. The blend that King uses in Carrie is interesting because it often seems that what people wrote is the same as what they felt and thought, at least consciously. It almost makes me think that at the time of writing Carrie, King felt that people were very honest about who they are. But I won’t go so far as to say that that is strictly true.
Before reading Carrie, I had read both Danse Macabre and On Writing by King. King brings up Carrie quite a bit in On Writing, describing the two young women who inspired the character. And reading the book and knowing about those two women, I couldn’t help but think that King is quite possibly the most empathetic writer I’ve read thus far. I also felt like the alienation, isolation, and the hatred that grew out of those two feelings could be applied to how mass murders are developed in the real world. If you think about it, Carrie is a mass murderer. We feel sorry for her, mostly because we can literally feel and hear what she is feeling and thinking, but we can’t do that in the real world. Real world mass murderers are most often male because women tend to internalize emotional turmoil, but this whole book is built around a mass murder, who happens to be female and telekinetic. Importantly though, she’s also telepathic. Mass murderers are typically in so much emotional pain and feel that no one can possibly understand what they are going through and one of the goals of the act is to make others feel as much pain as they do and to make people finally see them. These are all things Carrie experiences and does. She does it better than a real world mass murderer because of the telepathy. Everyone knows Carrie is doing this, because she has the power to make them know. Everyone can feel her anger, because she has the power to make them feel it. And finally Sue feels all her pain, even the pain of her death, because Carrie has the power to make her. King does a beautiful job of showing that Carrie is a person, a human being, not some unknown monster that hides under beds, waiting for the moment to hurt someone because it gives it pleasure to do so. I loved this. If Carrie could have gotten the help she needed, if she had more friends, if she had a better home life, none of this would have happened. It’s a powerful idea. In fact, it empowers our society with a responsibility about mass murder.
Now, did King mean this giant idea I’m having to be applied to real life mass murderers? I have no idea. It’s just my takeaway and it seems very applicable to the United States today. But I’m interested to know what you guys thought about it and these ideas. Leave some comments and I will think about them and reply in a new post.