Monday, 8 April 2013

The Green Mile


Stephen King is not only one of the most successful writers in the profession, but one of the most prolific too, with more than 50 books under his belt. He is also known for embracing nonstandard approaches to publishing, like in 2000, when The Plant was released as e-book installments, long before Amazon dreamt of making Kindles. The Green Mile is another such book, which was written and published in serial form.

Originally published in 1996 as six monthly installments, The Green Mile is a throwback to the days of Charles Dickens (whose books were mostly published as serials). In it, an old man in a nursing home recounts his days as a death row supervisor. His name is Paul Edgecombe, and his story takes place in 1932, at a prison known as Cold Mountain. It centers around his experiences with an inmate named John Coffey, a hulking black man who'd been convicted of the rape and murder of two white girls.

In the days leading up to his appointment with an electric chair, John shows considerable remorse for his actions. But things take an unexpected turn when he is revealed to possess certain powers, healing Paul of a severe urinary infection just by laying hands on him. This leaves Paul conflicted with the court's decision to have John electrocuted, and the role he'd have to play in it, a confliction that would eventually bring Paul to the realization that maybe John wasn't guilty of the crime he'd been accused of after all.

The Green Mile works as both a series of individual chapbooks and a complete whole. Each installment was written with subtle reminders of the story so far, and ended in such a way that the reader is left wanting more. Most importantly, there were no breaks in continuity, nor did the quality of the overall story suffer as a result of the speed with which it was written. Then again, this is Stephen King we're talking about here, the much lauded and undisputed king of horror.

26 comments:

  1. I didn't like buying the books every month. I would be engrossed in the story and then have to wait three weeks to see what happened next! Not what an avid reader wants to do!

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    1. I prefer reading everything in one go myself, but I totally understand people who like serials too. Heck, I wouldn't be writing one at the moment if I didn't.

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  2. I have to admit I haven't read this one, but I LOVE King. He's a great writer. The Shining is one of my favorites.

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    1. I haven't read The Shining, but I loved the movie. I'll get around to reading it soon though. I'm slowly making my way through his backlist, starting with Carrie.

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  3. This sounds like a good one. I just finished 11/22/63 and it was great!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your review of this book. I am an avid reader, but usually stay clear of Stephen King as I am a big fraidy-cat. The only King book I read was "Christine", and that gave me nightmares. I might just pick up this one...

    wearinglemon.blogspot.com

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    1. You should, and I hope you eventually do. :)

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  5. I've seen the movie but never read the book.

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    1. I still haven't seen the movie, but I'll be sure to now that I've read the book.

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  6. I havent read the book... but after this review, i sure wanna read it..


    #AtoZChallenge

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  7. Nice to meet you Michael! Hey did you see the actor who played Coffey died last year?
    I have read the books and I love them. I consider it a magical realism story and I used them as a study. King is such a great writer.
    Great to meet you!

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    1. Nice to meet you too, Pk. I didn't realize Michael Clarke Duncan was dead. Wow. I'll have to see the movie for sure now. :(

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  8. Years after the fact I collected each of the individual volumes. I would've read them in 1996, but for whatever reason I wasn't a Stephen King reader at the time, but was immediately intrigued when I read about the unique release format. I think it was the start of a revitalization in King's career, where he shifted back toward relevance.

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    1. I am just starting to really get into the works of Stephen King, even though I tried (and failed) to read Cujo many years ago. I've always loved the movie adaptations of his books though, Carrie and The Shining most especially.

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  9. I couldn't read the Green Mile, I have a real problem with stories where someone is wrongly accused or discriminated again, no matter how profound the story. This is the first time I allowed myself to read the plot! Thanks.

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    1. You're welcome, and I really do hope you give the book a chance. :)

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  10. One of my favorite books of all time! I loved the movie too. Stephen King is the kind of writer I hope to be. He's always striving to be better than his last book--always growing.

    Blogging A to Z Challenge http://www.shellygoodmanwright.com/apps/blog/show/25492250-g-is-for-guilty

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    1. Yes. And he is also quite prolific to boot. We could all learn a thing or two from him.

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  11. I am talking about this novel a bit tomorrow :) This is my favorite King novel for sure. And the movie version is absolutely fabulous. Great post!!!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah With Joy)

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    1. Thanks. I can't wait to read what you have to say. :)

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  12. Great choice for the letter "G." Stephen King is my favorite author. His book "On Writing" is a wonderful guidebook for writers and inspires me every time I read it. The Green Mile is just one example of his genius. Great story!

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    1. Thanks, Luana. I've also read On Writing, and like you said, it's truly inspirational stuff.

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