I’m in Misery (in a good way)

Student reviews Stephen King's psychological horror book.

A super famous writer named Paul Sheldon swerves into a ditch while driving home from a party (he was intoxicated). He nearly freezes to death in the snow with his lower bones shattered, but a nurse finds him in that ditch before he does. The nurse takes him home and saves his life. Then, she ruins it. She gives him pain medicine, feeds him, and talks with him. Then, she threatens him, starves him, and tortures him … This nurse is by far his greatest fan, but this is by far his worst fan-experience.

Stephen King has pulled off plenty of wild-concept stories like this with past books like The Shining, It, and Pet Sematary. But with Misery, King didn’t just pull off turning the obsessive-fan-kidnapping concept into a horrifying story, he ripped it off! Wait, no, that doesn’t sound too good. He tugged- no, no, no. He did a real bang-up job … that’s all I’m trying to say. He didn’t rip anything off at all. Actually, he kind of defined the psychological horror genre with the terrifying/emotionally-traumatizing stories he’s written like Carrie and The Green Mile.

I have a problem with not taking things seriously, but this book made me so uncomfortable and scared that it banished all childishness from my soul. There’s a scene where Sheldon is left in a room for days without food or water and the lower half of his body is paralyzed. He describes a race in his body between three horses named King of Pain, Pretty Thirsty, and I Got the Hungries, respectively. Pretty Thirsty ultimately wins the race when Paul has a choice to die of thirst or use very extreme ways to quench it. A child would say really immature things about that, but I am a man now, because of this book. There are so many other mortifying things that happen to this poor writer, but I can’t really say too much about any of it without spoiling the book. I will tease a few things, though. Sheldon is forced to burn one of his most prized possessions in order to live. He is forced to write something that he absolutely hates. Wait, wait, these don’t really sound that terrible… Maybe I should talk about the sledgehammer to the leg… or the axe and the thumbs… or maybe watching the—no, no that’s too much.

All that Misery really did was put me through misery so I can say that I totally, definitely, completely recommend this book to every person in the world. I know being put through misery isn’t usually a good thing, but, the title said what the book was. It’s Misery, and the dictionary definition of misery is “a state or feeling of great distress or discomfort of mind or body.” This book is a horror of the mind, a psychological horror, and misery is really the best word, and book, to define that.