43. Carrie – Stephen King
I was probably one of the last people of my generation not to know that this is an epistolary novel. It’s not the example that’s usually used in high school English classes when explaining those, although it would probably be more relevant to the students than Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (which I do not like, thanks very much 18th century satire class I took in college and totally hated-I like satire [especially Shamela the satire of Pamela from the same century], however, the class mainly dealt with my professor’s interest in Indiana and basset hounds, strangely not major topics in 18th century literature so I barely learned anything). Carrie apparently has been the target of book banning attempts in schools, though, so maybe my idea wouldn’t work so well. I just remember that in my second semester freshman English class everyone was reading Stephen King books for their book reports. Everyone except me, I chose Silence of the Lambs (time well spent). Some people accidentally (I say accidentally because I doubt any of them bothered to open the books before choosing them and one person complained to me directly because I was “a reader”) chose King’s short story collections, which were my gateway to Stephen King’s books, and I found that kind of funny. It’s hard to write a book report about a short story collection…especially if you are a high school freshman. It turned out that many of my fellow students weren’t able to finish their books in the allotted time before the report was due. If anyone had chosen Carrie, it would have been easily finished AND I would have known what I was getting into when I picked it up.
The things I enjoyed most about Carrie were the descriptions of Carrie herself. All the bovine language really struck me. I’m so used to reading about beautiful nerds and damaged characters that just need to remove their glasses and shake out that ponytail that it was refreshing to have a main character like Carrie. She wasn’t just bovine, she was unredeemable and she had a dark purpose. She didn’t make many choices that were on the up and up and seemed to be well aware that she was doomed just based on how she came into the world. It feels weird to say that’s refreshing, but it is. She’s telekinetic – but she’s nobody’s chosen one.