Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Carrie - Stephen King (Audio)

I've been reading Stephen King since I was in middle school, and continued right on through my adult years.  As recently as last year, I was completely blown away by 11/22/63!  The guy just keeps improving with age!  This year I jumped on board with Fizzy Jill's "The Shining" read along which was a real blast from the past, and I reread his very earliest work of short stories "Night Shift".  I'm really getting into this! So why stop?  

Ti recently listened to "Carrie" on audio, and I was compelled to do it too.  In fact, did you know this was his very first book, published in 1974?  And who doesn't love that movie with Sissy Spacek?  It sounded like good fun to me.

Synopsis:  Carrie White has always been the butt of the joke, the misfit of the class, for as long as she can remember.  Her single mother is fanatically religious and extremely protective of Carrie, which doesn't help matters.  Throughout Carrie's childhood, she has shown occasional signs of a special power...the power to move inanimate objects...particularly when she is under stress.  Then Carrie gets her first period, at the age of 17, in the showers after gym class, and panics because she thinks she is dying (her mother never explained these things to her).  The other girls humiliate and ridicule her, and this triggers a change in Carrie that takes this power to a whole new level.

One of the offending girls, Sue Snell, feels bad about her behavior in the showers that day, so she pleads with her boyfriend, the very popular Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom.  Despite the violent protest from her mother, Carrie accepts, innocently assuming things are looking up.  Unfortunately, the other kids in the high school cannot let Carrie enjoy her night, and plan the ultimate prank that will result in a prom that will change everyone's lives forever.

My thoughts:  I read this book so long ago, and I am glad I experienced it again...this time with audio...so I will be fully prepared to see the new remake this October.  It is another perfect example of how King can create suspense in subtle ways (similar to "The Shining"), not by just outright scaring the bejesus out of you.  I know many people hesitate to read any of his work because they are afraid they will never sleep again, but often he is so much more craftier and more literary than that.

I think the beauty of this book is how he slowly builds up to the climax of prom night.  Throughout the story, he reveals reports, interviews and book excerpts from "after" that analyze what exactly happened and why, and only slowly and vaguely building up to the ultimate horror of the night in question.  If, as a reader, I knew nothing about the plot, this technique would have driven me mad with anticipation!  As it is though, who DOESN'T know how it ends?  The scenes from the 1976 movie starring Sissy Spacek are iconic.  

That brings me to the biggest beef I have, and that is with the movies.  Overall, I think the 1976 version is a pretty good representative of the book, with one major exception.  In the book, Carrie is described as being overweight and homely with an acne problem.  But here is how they cast the part in 1976 with Sissy Spacek and again in 2013 with Chloe Moretz (Hugo, Dark Shadows, Let Me In).   
Sissy Spacek
Chloe Moretz

Maybe it's me, but it seems like something got lost in the translation.  It is the same frustration I have when you read a book about a woman who is struggling with a weight problem, and the cover shows skinny model legs.  Do they think we won't go see a movie unless the ugly duckling is actually pretty hot?  If I were King, I wouldn't have been too happy.  That aside, Spacek took weird and made it her own, and I'm sure Moretz will do her thing as well.

A few words about the audio production:  The cherry on top of all of this is that Sissy Spacek narrates the audio.  The person who knows the material inside and out, and brings a certain nostalgia to the experience.  By the way, she narrated "To Kill a Mockingbird" and knocked it WAY the hell out of park on that one.

Audiobook length:  7 hours and 24 minutes (304 pages)

4.5 out of 5 stars     


bermudaonion said...

I'm one of those people who are scared to read King's work but have had a hankering to read this one. I've actually seen the movie so I would kind of know what to expect. By the way, I was too chicken to see the movie all at one time so I saw it in bits and pieces.

Darlene said...

I have also being reading King since in middle school and loved his books. This one is on my list to listen to as well after Ti said it was good. I was hoping my library would have it but they don't so I'll have to pick it up. I'm working my way through Under the Dome and 11/22/63 is next.

The Relentless Reader said...

1974..what a fab year! Because that's the year I was born, ha ha. ;)

I read this somewhere around 100 years ago but I'd sure like to do a re-read of it at some point.

Ti said...

Did you listen to the interview with King at the end? Where he said that Carrie White was a hybrid of some girls he knew in school and how, ironically, they both died young?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I have done a complete 180 on King in the last year. The man is an incredible storyteller!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Audio and I have a love/hate relationship, and I almost always have to buy the print copy of the audios I like. I know, I'm weird and high maintenance. Anyhoo, this sounds good, especially with Sissy Spacek narrating. I'm a little nervous about the new version...I hope today's Hollywood doesn't try to add too much shock and gore.

JoAnn said...

I was such a Stephen King fan in college, and Carrie is definitely a classic! One of these days, I must return to his books and audio may just be the way to go.

Heidenkind said...

It's Hollywood. They probably don't even think, "Hey should we cast a chubby girl in this role?" Like it's not even on the table.

Anonymous said...


This is the post that I compared the book and movie, but when I just went to check on the poll I was happy to see that people liked the book better. I thought they both were a bit different, but definitely worth reading for the pop references alone.

Iliana said...

I never read Carrie but of course loved the film. The original one!

Some King books I've really liked and others not so much. My book group is reading one of his later this year and I'm really looking forward to it!