Elevation delivers classic Stephen King storytelling without the horror
I’ve been a reader of Stephen King novels since I was in middle school. I’m not sure of the first title of his I read, but I distinctly remember the questions from my teachers about what made me as an 8th grade “class clown” of sorts decide to start reading titles like The Dead Zone. I was always an avid book reader (my mom was a high school English teacher) so the only answer I can remember mustering up was that “I prefer to read scary books than to watch scary movies”.
Not much has changed with me in that regard over the past few decades. It had been about ten years since I had read my last King title, The Green Mile, which was more of a supernatural psychological tale than a frightening one so when I saw his new 2018 release Elevation at the public library I scooped it up to give it a read. Reading physical books is a very intentional part of my personal self-care in the digital age, so I always keep a book or two in my daily rotation of things to engage with.
Elevation presents King’s story telling at its most accessible: there is no “horror” in this book, only his consistent motif that links all of his protagonists together: normal people in abnormal or unusual circumstances. The story is set in the a fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine which, if you follow King’s stories, seems to have a disproportionately large amount of supernaturally tragic occurrences there. This tale is no different as it follows the mysteriously increasing weightlessness of Scott Carey, an otherwise normal divorcee who recently landed the professional job opportunity he had been waiting a lifetime for. Carey has a variety of different small town “everyday issues” he faces including dogs doing their business in his yard and increasing community hostility towards the same-sex married couple that he lives next door to, but his real issue is a secret that he shares only with a few people in the small town. He is shedding weight but not body mass in a way that defies the basic laws of gravity and perplexes the town physician, while offering Carey both opportunities and challenges as the story goes on.
Elevation is a short novel both in stature and length, with a roughly 7 x 6 inch format and only 150 pages. It dives into the curious predicament of the story’s protagonist immediately, and moves pretty quickly in a light and pensive voice that addresses a variety of modern topics around human appreciation (as opposed to tolerance) and understanding. When most people think of Stephen King novels, a story like this might not fit into their realm of expectations conveniently. Material such as this has typically been released under his Richard Bachman pseudonym as a deviation from the genre that has made King one of the reigning “kings” of horror fiction over the past three decades. By releasing this title under his own name, King is moving beyond pseudonyms and claiming this unique story of impossible physical science in our modern times as his very own.
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