Helynne's Reviews > Misery

Misery by Stephen King
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's review
May 25, 2009

really liked it
Read in February, 1990

In Misery, King steps away from the paranormal and focuses on the psychopathology of a troubled, homocidal woman. Novelist Paul Sheldon, creator of the popular pulp-fiction series Misery, has finally written a serious novel he is proud of. When an accident in the backwoods of the Colorado Rockies lands him in the home of his rescuser, deranged nurse Annie Wilkes, an inveterate Misery fan, his life becomes a living nightmare. Here is where the novel also becomes a metaphor for the relationshipo between novelists and their publishers, a prickly rapport with which King is obviously all too familiar. Annie forces the injured and bedridden Paul to burn his only copy of his new novel, which she thinks is crude and profane, and insists that he revive the Misery books, and that he write the plot of the next one precisely to her specifications. (In Sheldon's latest Misery volume, he killed off the heroine, and ended the series, and Annie is furious). The irony is that Annie's demented prodding spurs Paul to create a new Misery book that is better than any he otherwise would have imagined. Metaphor aside, on the literal level, this story is just as chilling as anything King ever wrote about hotel ghosts, telekinetic girls, pet cemeteries, or evil, talking cars. This is a disturbing psychological study about what may be going through the mind of a woman who might have been kind and normal if only . . . The most horrific part of the story, however, is Paul's plight of being the prisoner of someone who is not only mentally unbalanced, but also volatile and violent. The process of his attempted escapes and desperate play-acting to placate his captor is gripping from start to end. The film version features a pitch-perfect interpretation of Annie by Kathy Bates. Every moment and nuance of that performance were part of her well-deserved Academy Award for best actress.

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