A Not So New Book Is Re-entering Pop Culture


Rae Hobbs, Staff Writer - The Mustang Messenger

A not-so-new book has surged into popularity in recent weeks. This book is Stephen King’s 21st in his library, and titled Misery. The resurgence has been noticed on TikTok, Instagram, and even the school’s library. So the real question, is what is this book about and why has it remained and even regained relevancy in today’s world even though it was published almost forty years ago?

Misery is the story of Paul Sheldon, a best-selling author known for his book series about Misery Chastain. The book starts with Paul finding himself driving in a blizzard which causes him to crash his car and nearly die. From there he is saved by a woman named Annie Wilkes who bandages him up and begins helping him heal properly. Little does he know when Annie reads the newest installment of the Misery series, he will see a whole new Annie. A much more aggressive Annie. 

The first major reason is simply King’s brilliance in storytelling. Once the reader really gets into the story, they realize just how immersive the experience that King has created truly is. The descriptions give enough information so that the reader can visualize the situations Paul has been put into, without becoming excessive.  These descriptions really come into play when Annie flips into who Paul describes as “The Goddess”. There is a clear distinction between Annie when she has full control of her actions, and when Annie experiences a manic episode. “ I flinched, I cringed, and I tried to read while simultaneously not looking at the page (which doesn’t work very well). But through all the dismemberment and my (somewhat morbidly delighted) disgust, I started to realize that there was something else going on between the lines in Misery with regards to Paul and his work,” says Jessica Avery of Book riot

Another major reason to read the story is the symbolism. Misery symbolizes addiction and its toll on the user. King has been quoted as saying that he wrote the story to express his feeling about his cocaine addiction. When you realize this, it adds a whole new layer to the story. Paul Sheldon is King’s self-insert, and Annie Wilkes stands in for cocaine. Annie repeatedly refers to herself as Paul’s “number one fan”, while also being Paul’s biggest cause of pain, much like how a drug can make a person feel as if they are amazing while also brutalizing them should they not give in to their addictions every whim.

I don’t ask myself, “Well, does God exist or does God not exist?” I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, “God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.” And that works fine for me.” Stephen King

Misery is a story that is an emotional rollercoaster. As soon as the reader thinks they know what is about to happen, they are thrown for another loop. The symbolism and description are really what make this book so excellent. King is known for being a strong believer in the philosophy of “write what you know” and he does so with great success. So, if you need a new book recommendation, Misery is a good way to go if you enjoy suspense and are okay with a little body horror.