The rumors are true: Stephen King has written a sequel to The Shining. And the wait is over: Doctor Sleep is already here. But why now? Surely, with his legendary hypergraphia, King could have found time to write the second installment to one of his best-loved novels earlier. The Shining came out almost 40 years ago! It was King’s third novel and his breakout success.
Maybe there’s just something in the air. Last year’s documentary Room 237, released theatrically earlier this year, is a movie about a movie—specifically, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. King famously hated Kubrick’s film, possibly because it diverges so widely from the novel. King even made his own (lackluster) TV miniseries adaptation. But Kubrick’s version is puzzling even taken on its own, and the various conspiracy theories attributed to the film—it’s “really” an allegory about Native American genocide, or it’s Kubrick’s apology for having helped the U.S. government fake the moon landing—are the subject of Room 237.
In any event, Doctor Sleep is slated to become one of fall’s blockbuster novels—the latest in a long line for King. According to the author, the idea for Doctor Sleep came to him after reading about Oscar, a real-life cat “working” in a Rhode Island nursing home. Oscar possesses the preternatural ability to predict who among the terminally ill patients will next pass away. King even inserted a cat character into the new novel: “I thought to myself: ‘I want to write a story about that.’ And then I made the connection with Danny Torrance as an adult, working in a hospice. I thought: ‘That’s it. I’m gonna write this book.’ The cat had to be there. It always takes two things for me to get going. It’s like the cat was the transmission and Danny was the motor.” Mediander was already on the Oscar case with Lizz Brady’s CultureMap “Crazy Cat Ladies,” which speculates that, had Oscar practiced his special brand of prognosis in the 17th century, he would have been accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake—or perhaps at the Puritan equivalent of a scratching post. Now that sounds like a Stephen King story. Pet Sematary anyone? Or, much more ridiculously, Cat’s Eye??
Photo courtesy of Everett