Posts Tagged ‘Elevation’

I got ‘Elevation‘ by Stephen King as a Christmas present from one of my favourite friends. I read it yesterday in one breath.

The story told in ‘Elevation‘ goes like this. Scott is a website designer. One day he discovers that he is losing weight constantly. And the surprising thing is that it doesn’t show in his physical appearance, because he looks the same as always, with a mild paunch. The second even more surprising thing is that even if he wears heavy clothes and boots, the scales show the same weight as when he is naked. This clearly is not a simple, straightforward health condition. He gets a health checkup done, without mentioning the problem to the doctor. The doctor says his health is perfect. Then he talks to his friend Bob who is a retired doctor and tells him the truth. Bob is surprised because he hasn’t seen anything like this before in his life. Bob advises Scott to get further tests, but Scott refuses, because he feels that he will be regarded as a crazy person or he will be treated like a lab animal. Both of them decide to keep an eye on Scott’s weight. Though Scott is losing weight, he feels very energetic. He finds that very odd. Scott’s neighbors are Deirdre and Missy, a lesbian couple. They own a Mexican restaurant in town. The people in the town are still conservative and they keep Deirdre and Missy as arm’s length and mock them behind their backs. Missy takes it in her stride, but Deirdre is not happy with things. Scott has an interaction with Deirdre but it doesn’t go well, as she regards him with suspicion too. Then there is a 10K run in the town. Deirdre is the best runner in town and she is expected to win. Scott registers himself for the event, because of his new-found energy. How these three strands come together – Scott’s strange health issue, the relationship between Scott and Deirdre and Missy and the two ladies and the whole town, and what happens at the 10K run and after – forms the rest of the story.

Elevation‘ is a very un-Stephen King book. The first thing is that it is 132 pages long. It is not one of those epic 1000+ page Stephen King books. The second thing is that, in most Stephen King books, the story happens in a small town in Maine, and some strange stuff happens (which is the case here too) and at some point, someone take a huge knife and plunges it down someone else’s chest. There is none of that here. Here, it is like, Stephen King decides to turn Paulo Coelho or Richard Bach or Antoine de St.Exupery, and gives us a beautiful, inspiring fable, with strange happenings. Of course, the comparison is not perfect, because it is still a Stephen King story and so it has the regular King-esque elements that King’s fans look forward to.

I have read very few Stephen King books because of their enormous size. If I remember right, I have read only three – ‘The Talisman‘ (which he wrote with Peter Straub), ‘Rose Madder‘ and ‘On Writing‘. The first one is a regular King chunkster, but the other two are smaller. I mostly watch film and TV adaptations of Stephen King books, because that is more easier (I have seen atleast 14 film and TV adaptations – I just counted). But I have always been a big fan of his storytelling skills and admire him hugely because he has survived the hit that happened when the Cold War ended, when most of the writers who were popular during the Cold War suddenly disappeared overnight -writers like Irving Wallace and Harold Robbins and Robert Ludlum and Jack Higgins and Hammond Innes and Len Deighton and others. Stephen King has survived that and has stayed relevant and thrived. His ‘On Writing‘ brought him a new generation of fans and those fans who never read horror fiction before started reading his works. In recent times, King seems to have moved away from horror fiction and has started writing crime fiction. And now this ‘Elevation‘ has happened. It is neither horror nor crime, but it is about strange happenings, and about friendship and about community. It is beautiful, inspiring, heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking. I loved it.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“You could feel weight, yes – when you were carrying too much, it made you ploddy – but wasn’t it, like time, basically just a human construct? Hands on a clock, numbers on a bathroom scale, weren’t they only ways of trying to measure invisible forces that had visible effects? A feeble effort to corral some greater reality beyond what mere humans thought of as reality?”

“An idea came to him then, the way his coolest ideas sometimes did : almost completely formed, needing nothing but a few tweaks and a little polish. Cool ideas weren’t necessarily good ideas, of course, but he intended to follow up on this one and find out.”

“It was what Milly had called the following wind, and what pros like McComb no doubt called the runner’s high. Scott preferred that. He remembered that day in his yard, flexing his knees, leaping, and catching the branch of the tree. He remembered running up and down the bandstand steps. He remembered dancing across the kitchen floor as Stevie Wonder sang ‘Superstition’. This was the same. Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go further still.”

Have you read Stephen King’sElevation‘? What do you think about it? Which is your favourite Stephen King novel?

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