Stephen King is, of course, one of my favorite writers of all time. That doesn’t mean I love every book he’s ever written. It’s impossible to be as prolific an author as King and please everyone even half the time. Some of his novels – always the longer ones – have either failed to capture my interest or lost it by the middle of the tale.
I believe he is truly (and consistently) gifted when it comes to writing short stories and novellas. When I pre-ordered his latest offering, Elevation, I wasn’t expecting such a short novel. I was pleased about the length; however, when I read the description I hoped the story wouldn’t descend into a diatribe against a certain world leader for whom neither of us voted.
I was pleasantly surprised in more ways than one.
Hate crimes are on the rise and it seems that many people are feeling brave enough now to voice their prejudices and display their bigotry in public. How should we react to such toxic behavior? What can we do to help heal our towns and neighborhoods? This topic weighs heavily (pun intended) on the mind of King’s latest protagonist – along with his highly unusual health problem.
Scott Carey is a middle-aged white guy living in Castle Rock, Maine. The computer nerd is leading an ordinary life until the day he notices that he’s losing weight at a rapid pace – though his outward appearance remains the same. He still looks like a 230 lb. man sporting love handles and a large belly. Stranger still, what he’s wearing, holding or carrying never has any effect on his weight.
Scott confides in his friend, Dr. Bob, who suggests that Scott visit the best specialists he can find. Scott soon rejects the idea. Either the inexplicable condition would go away or it would not – and there were no doctors on the planet with the knowledge to help him.
While he’s dealing with his ailment and all of its bizarreness, Scott begins to take more notice of what’s happening in his town. He is determined to appreciate life and do some good while he’s able. After having a disagreement with his new neighbors, a lesbian couple, over the behavior of their dog, he strives to find a way to get along with them. When the couple open a restaurant in Castle Rock and are rejected by most of the population (married lesbians are a deal breaker), Scott wonders how he can help the two women gain acceptance and keep their business from going under.
I could have sped through Elevation in a very short time, but I wanted it to last a little longer. King’s book is perfect for the season, being quite touching in places. The only real horror involved comes from humanity – the nasty ways human beings treat each other and their reasons for doing so. But the melancholy tale includes a heartwarming truth about the difference one man can make in his world. I found the ending more than a little satisfying.
I’m tempted to give it five goblins instead of four. If only I believed in perfection …