Stephen King has a…presence(?) on Twitter. Keeping in mind he’s a white man in his seventies from one of the whitest, most rural states in the nation, he is relatively progressive-minded and engages on the topics of the day there. He’s even been blocked by the Cheeto-in-chief himself.
He missteps a bit from time to time, his most atrocious one recently being his comments about how we need to just come together and love each other despite our differences. Twitter did not respond kindly to that tone deaf line of thinking, given that the one side that we need to come together with seems to be made up of racists, Nazis, and white supremacists. The idea that our division is fed by “disagreements” has been left in the dust of actual, literal fascism, and thinking about giving these people a hug to restore civility gave me hives and I said so. He didn’t see it, but I did.
When I reserved Elevation at the library I anticipated the usual King brick, 600 pages of horror/sci-fi to lose myself in. The librarian brought my holds out to me and I was visibly shocked to find that it was only 145 pages. I read it in an hour before I packed up to leave my Miami hotel on Saturday.
It was honestly one of the worst books by Stephen King I’ve ever read, and I still haven’t been able to make it past book 4 of the Dark Tower series.
The basic premise is that there is a man, Scott, in Castle Rock who is losing weight and not mass. His next door neighbors are a married lesbian couple who have chosen to open a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in town, which isn’t doing very well due to their sexual proclivities. They are runners, and they run past his house with their dogs, who poop on his lawn. He asks them to pick up after them, and the louder of the two basically gives him a sarcastic smile every time and tells him in not so many words to basically fuck off. Scott makes it is mission to make peace with them somehow before he hits zero weight, and he also confides in the retired doctor in town so someone knows what is happening.
- King accurately described how rural Mainers would react to a pair of married “les-beans” moving into their town, but I felt like he was blaming part of their discomfort on them. One of the ladies is quite aggressive, even to the main character Scott, and so because she’s a bitch we’re led to believe that she brings about some of the anti-gay fervor. I have a problem with that depiction.
- King does the typical male author thing and has his main character constantly oogling the same angry lesbian. We are treated to many descriptions of her long legs and lean figure and he “can’t help but admire it.” GAG. GROSS. It really brought me out of the already weird-ass story because you could have cut those descriptions out and still had whatever this happens to be.
- Scott has some kind of condition that is keeping his mass constant but gravity is lessening its effect on him. So his weight is dropping but his body is staying the same size. Eventually he’ll reach zero and basically be thrown from the earth. He confides in the retired doctor in town, who helps him navigate his condition and plan for “the end.” What I don’t get is what this is supposed to prove, that we have to somehow avoid being weighted down and rise above all the petty bullshit? Sure, whatever.
- He runs in the Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving against the angry lesbian, who was an Olympic level runner until she broke her ankle, and almost beats her until a huge storm hits and she trips and falls in the rain. He picks her up and uses his increasing weightlessness to carry her across the finish line. This heartwarming sight saves the angry lesbian and her chef wife’s restaurant and so she stops being such a bitch to him. It’s probably not just me, but I’m not comfortable with the main character being a savior on top of oogling her. It just feels very…weird.
The hour-long read left me feeling like I had just been preached at and condescended to all at once. I am ashamed to say that I actually cried towards the end, and only because he gives his cat to the local bookstore owner to take care of when he goes “on a trip” but really it’s because the end is close and he knows it. There’s a moment where he stares long and hard at where Bill D. Cat’s food and water dish used to be and I just burst into ragged sobbing imagining what that would feel like. Then I got mad again because I feel like any story that involves pets in sad situations should have warnings at the beginning and my emotions had just been manipulated.
Like, the homophobic people only don’t like the lesbians because they are married? That fact is brought up several times along with the idea that other townspeople wished they would keep their relationship on the “DL.” And while I’m criticizing, these women didn’t explore the coast of Maine and think that maybe a full-on meatless Mexican restaurant might not survive very long? But this guy’s weird condition moving her across the line at a fucking Turkey Trot is what warms the town to their presence and business is suddenly booming? BOOOOOOOOO I say BOOOOOOOO!!!! Fucking ridiculous.
This is not a heartwarming parable about how we can overcome homophobia and Tr*mpism in rural America. This is a white, male savior story that encourages us to elevate the discussion, elevate ourselves above the hate, and come together in the end to help each other when we need it most. And it’s coming from a white, rich, old man from Maine.
An hour was more than I should have spent reading this trite nonsense. Save your own precious time and skip it. Go read something by Leigh Bardugo or Kiersten White, or even a fun romance by Jasmine Guillory instead. What a load of bullshit.
Note: If you have the strength to zoom through this in order to be angry with me, or simply out of morbid curiosity about whether it is actually as weird as I say, please come back and share your thoughts. I would love to hear what you think.