I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I had never read any Stephen King before reading The Green Mile. I know, I know. See . . . I have really enjoyed a lot of Stephen King movies and some of his essays on writing and wanted to read his books, but I never got around to it. Shortly before I left home a few months ago, I saw a copy of this book for sale at the library. I loved the film version of this story, so I reasoned the book would be just as good . . . if not better. And, indeed, for the most part, it was.
King builds an intriguing plot that delves into the nature of friendship and the realm of the supernatural in a manner that is haunting but not necessarily scary. Though I had watched the movie and was aware of the plot, King's story was so engrossing I was anxious and tense while reading it despite knowing what happens. Even more importantly, it's heartwarming in a creepy sort of way. If the end doesn't have you a little misty-eyed, there's something wrong with you. *dabs eyes* The cast is colorful and memorable. Edgecombe himself is a likeable protagonist, though he does get a bit overshadowed by the larger-than-life Coffey. Kudos to King for creating an absolutely heinous antagonist in Percy. I wanted to beat him with a rubber hose . . . repeatedly and with much malice.
My only problem is that since this is a novel set in the Depression-era Deep South, I was expecting more atmopshere from that period and era. Edgecombe's narration is compelling and engaging, but I never could shake the fact that the voice sounded like a moden middle-aged guy *looks at King* and not an elderly man reminsicing about his past. And, no offense to native New Englander King, but the narration also lacked a certain Southern quality, as well. Some of the dialogue and narration sounded off to my Southern ear. (Yes, I am petty. I am the Queen of Petty. Nay, I am the Empress of NitPicky and the Duchess of Overbearing Attention to Detail. Bow before me. ^^) This didn't detract seriously from the story, but as a reader who relishes atmosphere--and is passionate about Southern fiction--I didn't find the atmopshere convincing. That being said, the plot and characters more than made up for this.
The Green Mile is a bittersweet exploration of faith, fate, and sacrifice. The powerfully evocative plot is the main draw, but the complex characters also add to this superb novel. If you like supernatural fare that is not ghoulish, give this book a read. I definitely am adding more King to my reading list. Misery being next. ^^
Next week: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire
This Week in Literary History:
12 January 1876: American writer Jack London is born. Most people are familiar with London's gritty, naturalistic survival novels set in Alaska, specifically White Fang--which I am going to reread in one of my American lit classes this semester--and Call of the Wild, but I highly recommend his, ahem, chilling short story "To Build A Fire." I dare you to read it and not feel bone-numbingly cold afterward. :D