Saturday, August 9, 2014

THE GREEN MILE by Stephen King


Whenever I mention to people that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and that they should read more of his work, sometimes I get that "look". So many times he's dismissed into the "genre ghetto" as a popular horror writer and not a gifted writer of "literary" fiction. It frustrates me, because many people have no idea how gifted of a writer he truly is and how versatile he is. Obviously these same people have never read his novellas in the collection Different Seasons, or The Dead Zone, or 11/22/63, or Hearts in Atlantis, or this book especially.

The story is set in the 1930's and follows Paul Edgecomb, the head warden on the death row ward of Cold Mountain Penitentiary, a man whose job is to try to make the prisoners' last days and trip to "Old Sparky" as peaceful and humane as possible. One day, a new inmate arrives, John Coffey, a gentle giant black man who is accused on raping and murdering two white young twin sisters. But John Coffey has a special gift. And soon, once Edgecomb and the other guards learn the truth about Coffey, they will soon have all of their beliefs challenged and learn the true meaning of sacrifice and redemption.
“Sometimes there is absolutely no difference at all between salvation and damnation.” 
I believe that The Green Mile is superb. It is solidly on my list of favorite books and it's quite possibly the best full-length novel Stephen King has written. Although at the moment my favorite King novel is The Stand, I believe that this one is better written. It's mood and tone is pitch perfect, with the air of a fable laced with magical realism. The story truly moved me. When I read it for the first time years ago, I finished with what might have been a couple tears in my eyes. And that's a big deal, given the fact that I'm such a hardened badass. Stephen King shows a real knack of being able to take what should be very a brutal, depressing subject like death row during the Depression and infuse it with beauty, emotion, and sentiment that never feels forced. This novel is sincerely special and has stuck with me forever. If you've never read Stephen King's work because you don't like horror stories, then read this and it will make you a fan. If you are already a King fan and haven't read this, then do yourself a favor at start this one immediately.

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