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Spotlight on: Carrie by Stephen King

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Carrie by Stephen King Stephen King, Carrie

Puberty fully releases a teenage girl's telekinetic abilities, and an unknown author begins a career that will make him one of the best-selling authors of all time. The girl is Carrie White and the author is Stephen King.

King's debut horror novel Carrie is a wonderful introduction to his writings. All the aspects that make his works so readable are already there, and not in the bloated form that they would eventually develop: a horrific but completely plausible storyline, a character we can instantly relate to as a real person, and a runaway train of an ending that actually begins one-third of the way into the book. (The parenthetical asides that would become his trademark are also already present, though these would actually decrease over time.)

Carrie White is persecuted from all sides. Her mother is a religious zealot who believes that Carrie was a product of sin and therefore should have been killed at birth, and the popular kids at her high school invariably choose her as the subject of their pranks.

Carrie, at first, seems able to handle all this with relative aplomb, only occasionally resorting to her telekinetic powers for assistance. But all that changes on the night of the prom, as several small events lead up to one real cracker, and all bets are off.

King is excellent at depicting the stages of Carrie's storyline. Using fictitious newspaper clippings and quotes from books written afterwards, he tells a exciting tale of a girl who just couldn't take it anymore.

King's writing is very visually oriented, his description instantly translating into vivid images. It is no wonder that Brian De Palma saw in Carrie the potential for a film. Even though some changes were made, the film of Carrie is still one of the most faithful cinematic translations of King's work (although why someone thought it rated a sequel is beyond me).

Though by no means Stephen King's best book, Carrie nonetheless exhibits the markings of greatness. In many ways, it is like a child in whom one can see the potential for the adult that he will become.

This review originally appeared in somewhat different form on The Green Man Review. Copyright 2003. Reprinted with permission.

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