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Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

When I bought this book I never thought I'd be reviewing it on my human sexuality blog. But my interest was piqued by the introduction in this edition written by Tabitha King. While it outlines the struggle of King's early writing days in the laundry room converted to an office and how an early draft of Carrie was pulled from the trashcan, something else caught my attention.

It was her observations about menstruation that I was particularly interested in. If ever there was a melding of literary criticism and sexuality, this is it. She comments on how not only is menstruation a horrifying topic (which, really, it is), but also how the sexual, particularly the biological, gritty and raw aspects of female sexuality, play a huge role in the book.

The sexual aspect was of compelling interest to readers upon the book's original release. Sexual tension between characters and the unfiltered emotions and instincts swirling in us as teenagers is set up against the wickedness that is Margaret White and her real, guttural fear of the sexual.

From her pure hypocrisy regarding premarital sex, believing she was pregnant with cancer, and later the spawn of Satan, to her strange proclivity for calling breasts dirtypillows, Margaret White is a neurotic tyrant. I know she's supposed to be a character, but she is eerily similar to some people I know. Running on sheer emotional reactions, fearing words, other people, and overall her own body. She bows down to the control of centuries past where religion sought to shame and guilt the sexuality of the masses, or more importantly, female sexuality.

In Carrie the seemingly “evil” things (teen sex, topless sunbathing, masturbation) are not the evils at play. What is evil is our free will to make decisions and treat others in ways that are completely inhumane. The dark side of human nature.

A great blog post that goes more in depth with many themes in “Carrie” can be found here.

I live in a hole and until last week I had no idea there was going to be a film remake, but it makes me wonder about how much has changed in society since the book was first published, the first movie released, and now. I think we're still afraid of the same things regarding sexuality. Perhaps we've just become more accustomed to laughing in the dark.


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