Don’t let the title of this post fool you — Anne Hathaway the actress and Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night are two separate things, linked only by the fact that both of them are happening in my life this week.
First, Anne Hathaway: been aware of her for awhile, but she didn’t really show up on the radar until I saw Les Miserables, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend (though I’m glad I watched until the end, as long as it took to get to the end). Hathaway, as you all know, won the Best Support Actress Oscar last year for her role of Fantine — yes, it’s a showy role, and yes, Susan Boyle sang that song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” on her way to fame. But Hathaway was great and imho deserved the Oscar.
Which led me to look her up on IMDB (Internet Movie Databse) and Netflix, where I rented Rachel Getting Married. She’s not Rachel, who is her sister getting married. Hathaway plays Kym, the black sheep sister who’s spent the past 10 years in and out or rehab, and who comes home for the wedding, where she encounters (surprise!) all sorts of difficulties adjusting to family life.
Finished Stephen King’s new novel, Doctor Sleep (the sequel to The Shining) about a week ago. Really excellent, genuinely scary. As he often does, to great horror effect, King puts a kid in danger — and this time, it’s up to Dan Torrance to rescue her. The scary people, those who are after little kids, especially little kids who have the shining, are villainous indeed — a marauding and quite large band of something-like-vampires-but-not-exactly. They conceal themselves behind the guise of ordinary folks driving from spot to spot in motor homes, and they’re powerfully deadly.
I’m not a giant King fan, but I came to him after the movie version of The Shining was released in the 90’s. I was fascinated by the movie (it’s a Stanley Kubrick movie, as you well know), fascinated by the ideas, the subject. I wanted to write about it, and indeed I did. (And btw, I became a King fan — don’t camp out to be the first to get his latest, but I’ve read widely in his books, taught the occasional story of his that shows up in the lit anthologies, etc., but most of all, eagerly sought out his latest.)
As I wrote 3 weeks ago on Doctor Sleep, King is an old pro who knows exactly what he’s doing, re-introducing us to a slightly-older Dan Torrance (11 when the book begins but mainly an adult throughout it), his mother Wendy, also slightly older and considerably more experienced. And especially to Dick Halloran, one of the most-vivid characters in the first book and movie, still fully alive and fascinating. And the technical way that King handles the both voiced and also “shined” conversations between Dick and Dan is most clever. King knows very well how to do dialogue, develop characters, and move the plot along. It’s a page-turner that got better and better as I got closer to the end.
First, let’s review some of the fascinating points in Kubrick’s movie.
The Overlook Hotel, where Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance will be spending the winter all alone (Jack is the winter caretaker) is haunted. It’s haunted by all the guests who’ve died in the usual course of business, and those who’ve died in strange ways, or in horrid ways — Delbert Grady’s daughters, above. Grady, we learn, was once the winter caretaker, and he went insane, like Jack. Cabin fever? No, the Overlook is a malevolent force, driving the winter caretakers, along with many of the summer guests (apparently) insane.
King objected to the way (in his view) Kubrick downplayed how Jack’s alcoholism was the malevolent force behind his descent into madness and violence; I don’t agree. Kubrick imagined the director of a movie, in fact the camera itself, as a trapping, malevolent force that snatched young Danny’s freedom. It’s the force of over-intellectualism, of over-control. Mix these forces with alcohol and you have a volatile cocktail: Delbert Grady chopped his daughters top pieces with an ax because “they tried to burn the hotel down. I had to correct them, I had to correct them most severely.” So what was most likely a couple of 8-year-olds playing with matches led to a horrific murder.
So it is with Jack. Under the evil eyes of over-control, over-intellectualism, alcohol, and the Overlook Hotel, he tries to murder his 6-year-old son and his wife. Fortunately, Danny and Wendy have some real resources of their own (including Dick Halloran), make their escape (after leading Jack into the Overlook Maze that is probably his own controlling brain), and live to be in Doctor Sleep.
The Overlook Hotel, and its evil, reappear in Doctor Sleep. And once again, Dan Torrance must not only overcome his heritage of alcoholism but also fight against another kind of evil. (BTW, Dan is called “Dr. Sleep” at the hospice where he works because of his unique talent, a part of his shining, to help patients transition to death. Makes for a couple of fascinating scenes.)
(No title yet, and I haven’t got very far along, but here’s what I have as of today):
As with many colleges, Cabot College had a fieldhouse. And the fieldhouse was sort of small, and tatty, and aged.
Mel Tarby met me one morning at the fieldhouse. His point was to introduce me to Arvin Blake. I guess that having strangers on campus talking to students was a no-no, but I was a track guy (had just finished 8 by 400s), and Mel was a coach, and Arvin was a stranger.
Mel introduced us, then left, and I was alone with Arvin. Who had a proposal, and what a proposal it was. I would be Gen. William Westmoreland’s bodyguard.
It was a crazy idea. Because I was young (18), because I was fit (4:40 mile), excellent reflexes, more than expert marksman,because I was terminally and absolutely stupid (no parenthetical specs here), he recruited me. And the rest was – well, let me tell you the rest.
It’s Vietnam, 1968. I almost want to stop right here. But I won’t.
The airport could have been a scene, but it was a military plane (just think very uncomfortable seats), and so there was no hoo-hah about passports or problem with languages.
I never met General Westmoreland. I saw him across the room a time or two, but I usually slept during the day because my work hours were the middle of the night. Not that there was much bodyguarding to do in the middle of the night; no, not at all – this idea of being the General’s guard was just a front for what was really going on.
Which involves Dick McNairy, from America’s Dairyland, who had been in Saigon almost a year before I got there and met him. Or rather, was assigned to him, assigned like a _____, I’m afraid.
“What do you want here?” he barked at me the first time I entered his office and saluted, “Colonel McNairy, sir!”