Carla's Reviews > The Green Mile

The Green Mile by Stephen King
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's review
Jul 04, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

I am not a new reader of Stephen King's novels, but I am a new appreciator of the literary qualities of his non-horror titles, such as The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel. While there is a paranormal aspect to this novel (previously published in serial form), what appealed to me most was King's authentic use of voice and register for the Depression-era setting, his strong characterisation, and his handling of the moral and ethical questions involved in the implementation of the death penalty.

The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel does not bound ahead in exciting plot leaps, but as a reader, I was drawn into the world of the 'Green Mile', its warders and inmates because of its strengths, that to me, carried far more weight than action-related plot developments.

'The Green Mile' is the euphemistic term for the block of Cold Mountain Penitentiary where inmates awaited their final DOE (date of execution) in the seat of 'Old Sparky' or Big Juicy'. In the second paragraph of the novel, the narrator, Paul Edgecombe, the warden in charge says:

"The inmates made jokes about the chair, the way people always make jokes about things that frighten them but can't be gotten away from..."

Throughout the novel, there were numerous occasions when King would succinctly, and very accurately, describe human responses, such as the example cited above, and this was one of the literary qualities that kept me turning the pages, and ensured this novel will be a 'keeper' - not just on my bookshelf (my Kindle shelf, in this case), but in my memories of 'good reads that stay with me'.

I also really enjoyed the complexities of the characters, sharing with them the humour, the harshness and vulnerabilities of their situations. I liked King's use of descriptive language, the effectiveness of first-person voice and how it lent an oral history-feel to Edgecombe's recount of events.

If you have read other King novels, that are unashamedly placed within the horror/paranormal genres, and these did not appeal to you, don't be off-put trying The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel. This is a story of memorable characters, and difficult questions, with only a little of the paranormal thrown in for good measure. In short, a 4 1/2 star literary-quality read.
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