Book name: Elevation
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Horror, general fiction
Publication Date: 2020
Star Rating: 4/5
Elevation by Stephen King was a tricky book to categorise, but once I surrendered to the darkness of its whimsey that didn’t really seem to matter.
Many a Stephen King novella begins with a strange premise that ends up being a key driver. In Elevation, this was the ticking down of weight on the scales even when you feel just fine in real life.
In Castle Rock, Scott Carey is making the best of being divorced while being happily self employed as a web designer. He is comfortable living in this small town, and doesn’t see much reason to change anything about his life.
The only blot on this perfect landscape is that his neighbours let their dogs foul his lawn. When this is your only complaint, life is pretty sweet.
Scott is mystified that he’s feeling healthy, and certainly isn’t losing or gaining weight, but the scales tell a different tale. Every day, no matter how much he’s eaten, they dip a few pounds down.
His buddy the retired doctor can’t explain it either. They agree to monitor the situation. In the absence of a medical explanation, Scott comes to view the situation as a countdown to the end.
This gives him the impetus to set his affairs in order and put right some things that need tending to. Number one on that list, since everything else is just fine, is reaching out to DeeDee and Missy, his neighbours.
Castle Rock is a small town with the mentality to match, so DeeDee and Missy haven’t had an easy ride as newcomers who are a married same-sex couple.
Elevation was a lovely story, reflective rather than horrorful, about making the most of your last months and getting on with everyone in your community. Stephen King’s message is that if more of us lived that way then American would be getting along just fine.
Elevation is an exercise in seeing both sides of the situation when people disagree on political or sociological questions, in this case whether same-sex marriage should be allowed.
It’s also about the evolution of personal opinions beyond seeing our fellow human beings as members of categories such as gay or straight, so that we learn to relate to each other as individuals. Life becomes easier for everyone in Castle Rock when the community is finally able to embrace its same-sex residents.
Elevation isn’t a long book by any means. At 146 pages, it is long enough to do justice to the premise and the gentle lesson in tolerance that Stephen King would like us to take away.
However, what I enjoyed most about Elevation was its focus on Scott and his final months. He was a likeable character, who never complains about his health situation. He simply wanted to do some good in a gentle way while he could.
There was an incredible sadness to Elevation, but it was very life affirming, too. None of us know what lies around the corner, but we all have it in us to make the very best of the time we have. I can’t think of anyone better than Stephen King to invite us to contemplate that fact.
Thank you for reading my review.
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