Is there ever a book that literally makes you feel physically uncomfortable? I was squirming in my place with every page. I borrowed this book from a friend since I’m going through Stephen King’s work one by one.
Stephen King’s debut novel “Carrie” started from a dare. A reader told off King and said, “… you can’t write about women. You’re scared of women”. Is it a real surprise then that this book basically launched from the moment Carrie had her first period, the first day she became a woman?
I think the reason why I was uncomfortable with the book is the way King wrote about the female characters. I think we are all used to women being described as beautiful, sensual or sexual – all appealing traits. And if a woman is not physically-appealing, then her traits would be limited to a word or two. But not King – he went very creative in describing Carrie, the unattractive loner with the religious psychopath of a mother. He used the word “bovine” for Carrie at least twice. Back acne. Pubic hair. Dirtypillows. Her frumpy figure. In a way, her body is possibly one of the most realistic portrayals of a female protagonist ever. As a woman, is having my period a source of a bone-chilling nightmare? No, but King went as far as to make these realistic attributes and intimate details grotesque . We are not used to that. Female bodies are expected to be flawless, slender, hairless, etc. Hell, they picked Chloe Grace Moretz in the 2013 film remake of Carrie. They couldn’t pick a more attractive and popular actress to play the role of Carrie.
And of course, the horrors of all horror about the female body: menstrual blood. Hence, the title of this post. I understand that puberty does unsavoury things to a person but the amount of times menstrual blood came up in this book… I think the reader is right; on some level, Stephen King is afraid of women.
As a book in itself, it’s great. The book was written in such a way that it shifts between the regular narration of Carrie’s life, the discovery of her powers and the upcoming prom, and excerpts from fictional books, interviews, court sessions about events after the prom. So you are getting two perspectives – one anticipating The Prom and one dealing with observations regarding The Prom. The book is a mockumentary of itself! Stephen King always has this ability to surprise.
There are some bits that I didn’t like, however. To me, the stretch from the climax to the ending was surprisingly long. I was expecting the adrenaline rush from The Prom to push the story headlong to the ending. But King somehow managed to squeeze in a number of subplots in between that I don’t care much for. I think a less patient reader would have been really annoyed.
Overall, it’s an awesome book that kept me on my toes. But would I read this book for a relaxing entertainment? Nope.