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Stephen King Is More Introspective in His New Novel Doctor Sleep

In Stephen King’s new novel, Doctor Sleep, King brings back the character of Danny Torrence, the little boy in The ShiningIn interviews King says that whenever fans inquire about the fate of specific characters (the one’s that really live through the horror), he’s been more enthusiastic about the the ones that question the fate of Danny. I believe most people who have seen the movie remember the cute little boy on a tricycle with a bowl haircut racing down the empty corridors of The Overlook Hotel. Later to run from the mad “white knuckle alcoholic” who was simply his father.

Doctor Sleep is, in my opinion, semi autobiographical. Like Duma Key, which deals with the aftermath of a person who’s in a horrendous accident (like King), Doctor Sleep deals with the reality of what it is much like to be always a recovering alcoholic. I didn’t know King was an alcoholic, but he has been around recovery for over twenty years. So he knows the depths to which one can plunge along with the difficulties in trying to keep sober.

In Doctor Sleep, Danny is definitely an alcoholic like his father and a string smoker like his mother (who, in the novel, has died of lung cancer). When writing the book, King’s son, Owen, told him that the “plunge” he’d given Danny, now Dan, wasn’t far enough to equal the plunge Dan’s father, Jack, had taken. King takes his advice. So, if that you do not want gross, speed read ahead. Dan, after having found a lady, gotten in a battle, spends all his paycheck on cocaine, wakes up still drunk and has to go to the bathroom. “Another lurch from his unhappy gut… That released every one of the puke triggers: the vinegar smell of hard cooked eggs in a huge glass jar, the taste of barbecue-flavored pork rinds, the sight of french fries drowning in a ketchup nosebleed.

All of the crammed into his mouth yesterday evening between shots. He was going to spew… ” And that he does in spectacular fashion. But that leads to the key reason for the scene… Dan’s plunge. As he’s leaving the restroom, out of another room comes a toddler with a baggy diaper packed with everything an infant discards, sees the coke on the table, runs to it crying, “canny, mama, canny!” Danny keeps him from obtaining the “canny” and the little boy falls asleep together with his drunk mother.

Danny notices bruises on the small boy’s body. While the mom is passed out, he experiences her wallet taking all her money. Justifying this by saying she’d been the one who made him spend his paycheck on coke. The taking of the amount of money haunts Dan. And the bruises on the little boy haunt Dan. This, if you ask me, is the actual crux of the novel. Dan can not get beyond the demons of his past, his murderous, alcoholic father, the dead although not dead folks from The Overlook who visit him leaving behind pieces of these rotting, putrefying bodies and the mother with her bruised baby boy. Dan discovers “that memories are the actual ghosts” and that, “you take yourself with you, wherever you go.”

Obviously in most King novel there’s to be some type of supernatural forces causing havoc. In this novel, King expands on the idea of “the shining “.It’s the capacity to read other people’s minds, or move objects, or project out of one’s self. Dan has it and so does a teenage girl named Abra. In Doctor Sleep, they have to battle a lot of centuries old serial killers, the True Knot, disguised as RV driving pensioners who literally feed off the pain of others. They only prey on individuals with “the shining”, and they make their deaths particularly brutal.

It produces better “steam “.They get a huge kick out of 9/11 and other tragedies. The best choice with this group, a lady named Rose, includes a tusk. In Doctor Sleep, Dan fights his past with much greater dread and sense of terror than he does the girl with the tusk. Dan does, through AA, “come to understand a brand new freedom and new happiness.” He also comes to appreciate that he “will not regret days gone by nor need to shut the doorway on it.” With this particular novel King, apparently, is not shutting the doorway on his past.

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One Comment

  1. It’s hard to diagnose yourself with obstructive sleep apnea. You know the old joke about the man vehemently denying he has a snoring problem when he tells his wife, Where to watch Doctor Sleep “I stayed up all night last night to see if I snored, and I definitely don’t snore.”

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