Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Elevation: A Feel-Good Novel by Stephen King


“Hands on a clock, numbers on a bathroom scale, weren’t they only ways of trying to measure invisible forces that had visible effects? A feeble effort to corral some greater reality beyond what mere humans thought of as reality?”

“Elevation” by Stephen King doesn’t necessarily try to answer this weighty philosophical question but it is an interesting thought to consider as you read through this very light, almost anti-King type book. Who would have thought that this year’s feel good novel of the year would come from the master of horror?

Scott Carey is a somewhat recently divorced computer software programmer living with his cat, Bill D. Cat, in the small New England town of Castle Rock (sound familiar?). As with many of King’s characters, Scott is a simple man who lives an uncomplicated life. That is until he is beset with a curious and inexplicable condition: he’s losing weight without getting any thinner. At first Scott is mildly curious about this affliction, rightly surmising that any normal doctor would be sending him for tests upon tests. So instead of taking himself to the hospital he visits Bob Ellis, a retired doctor and friend. Scott feels better telling Dr. Bob what’s happening to him, especially since Dr. Bob agrees to keep it a secret. But interestingly, the weight loss isn’t what is on Scott’s mind. The new neighbors are the focus of his attention.

Deirdre McComb and Missy Donaldson have recently opened a fine dining restaurant in town. The restaurant isn’t doing well, mostly because the women are married and that doesn’t sit right with many of the residents. Scott’s main challenge with his new neighbors has nothing to do with their marriage or their restaurant. It’s all about their dogs using his lawn as their own private bathroom.

What plays out next in the book is a bit predictable as Scott tries to befriend the women and provide help and acceptance in Castle Rock, even though the women want nothing to do with him. As Scott continues to lose weight, he becomes more and more determined to ingratiate himself in their life. Then he devises a plan to use the annual Thanksgiving 12K run as a means to his end.

The Thanksgiving run is cathartic to Scott. And while he achieves his goal with his neighbors, it does nothing to change the fact that he is losing more and more weight. The countdown to zero pounds is fast approaching. How will Scott and his new friends handle it?

“Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises.”

I would be spoiling everything if I told you the outcome, but then again, I did call this a feel good novel. What makes this a different kind of Stephen King novel is that the details aren’t in Scott’s eerie weight loss but in the relationship he has with his friends. At just 146 pages, “Elevation” is about a quick a read as I’ve ever had (I opened it as the plane went into the air, and finished it before we landed). There were expected elements and surprising ones. The ending was endearingly uplifting. Which may be why King named the book “Elevation.” You may not be transformed after reading it, but some of the weight of the world may be lifted from your shoulders. And yes, the pun is intended.

Thank you for your time!

Lynn Alexander is a recently published author and long-time book, food, cat and college football lover (Go Green!). Her career journey started in upstate New York, writing and recording commercials for radio. She moved to Venice, Florida to manage a restaurant which led her to Naples and Marco in 2002, where she currently books weddings and events for a local resort. Alexander is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum which fed her passion for history and learning. A butterfly at parties but a loner at heart, she loves nothing more than baking yummy desserts then retreating to a quiet corner to read.

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