Weekend at The Stanley Hotel
I didn’t see any ghosts. I don’t believe in ghosts, so I’m not sure I’d be able to see one if one existed. Ghost stories never frightened me because I don’t believe people have souls. I enjoy the idea of ghosts and souls and heaven and hell; I think they’re fun concepts. In reality, I believe the truth is less interesting. When we die, our brains stop working and our hearts stop. That’s it.
We’re at the Stanley Hotel and I’m not seeing any ghosts. Christa goes to the gift store and buys me a copy of The Shining so I can understand why she’s creeped out by the hotel. As I said, I’m not scared by ghost stories, but this book fucking terrified me.
If you’ve only seen the movie, it’s a story about a haunted hotel. However, the book is much more complex. The book is about a father dealing with alcoholism, and the father’s efforts to fit into society, save his marriage and be a good father. His five-year-old son has the gift of reading thoughts and seeing the future, yet the boy is too young to understand much of what he sees. But the boy senses emotion.
Early in the book, we learn that the father occasionally loses his temper, once accidentally breaking the boy’s arm by grabbing him. We learn that the mother often thinks about “divorce,” a term that means nothing to the boy but invokes a feeling of unhappiness and deep despair. Occasionally, the boy senses his father thinking “suicide,” a new term with the darkest emotion the boy has ever sensed.
The son loves his mother and worships his father. He prays his mother won’t leave his father, which she often thinks about. He prays his father will stop drinking, which is a destructive activity the boy can’t understand, but he sees it destroying his father in the future. As the father slowly loses personal battles that will destroy his family, the boy sees his family’s terrifying future.
I relate to the boy because I loved my father, yet I feared his anger. I relate to the father because I love my son and my biggest fear is screwing up. The characters are complex and the battles are frighteningly real. I’m an emotional wreck.
Maybe I’ll try to relax tonight by watching a feel-good movie like “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “The Exorcist.” Maybe I’ll watch a comedy like “The Omen” or “Salem’s Lot.” If you want to scare me, screw the ghosts and devils. My personal demons are much more terrifying.