Elevation by Stephen King

details
Title: Elevation.
Writer(s): Stephen King.
Narrator(s): Stephen King.
Genre(s): Horror.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton.
Format: Audiobook.
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021.
Length: 3 Hours and 46 Minutes.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

thoughts

Can’t we all just get along? Today, more than ever, humanity fights for every single person’s differences. Going beyond a question of tolerance, zealous pursuit of understanding and mutual respect is sought by individuals around the world. But what does it take to help one another live peacefully in our communities? When can we go on with our day without thinking or hearing about prejudices affecting countless individuals? How does one elevate themselves above these judgments to learn and appreciate the differences? Writer Stephen King looks to explore one man’s journey of empathy and sympathy through a short story void of his trademark horror elements.

What is Elevation about? Set in the small town of Castle Rock, the story follows Scott Carey, a man who’s losing weight at a frightening pace. Confiding to his friend and doctor Bob Ellis, he reveals that he’s not getting any thinner despite the scales clearly indicating perpetual weight loss, with or without clothes. In the midst of this mysterious affliction, Scott also witnesses the adversity that his new neighbours, Deidre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson, are facing with their new restaurant as the community shuns them for not meeting their expectations. On top of that, Scott finds himself in the middle of a feud with the couple who has their dogs doing their business on his lawn. Scott has to figure things out quickly if he wants to set things right before he becomes weightless.

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

— Stephen King

There’s an irresistible hook in the premise of this novella, one that explores an unexplainable phenomenon that affects the protagonist, teasing the reader with an uncontrollable outcome that he faces. The character of Scott Carey, unfortunately, isn’t particularly spectacular beyond this affliction that suddenly has him thinking about life and the decisions he’s made so far in a far different light. While he tries to demystify what’s going on with his body, he also looks to innocently bond with the lesbian couple and tries to help them overcome all the mistreatment they’re getting from the locals. Unfortunately, the poor amount of characterization makes a lot of Stephen King’s characters feel one-dimensional and amateurishly constructed around stereotypes.

The honorable take-home message within this short story, that of looking beyond everyone’s differences to get along, is a righteous one but the length and execution of this story simply make the delivery ineffectual. An overarching theme of elevation can also be understood, when interpreted as an invitation to ascend above differences to become a better version of one’s self, but is difficult to appreciate due to the lack of substance and novelty. Although the story in itself strives through its simplicity to deliver its message, it is also its greatest fault, making the narrative forgettable once it achieves its ultimate climax, a much-predictable one, to say the least. Fortunately, the upside of this audiobook is having writer Stephen King narrate it himself, giving his characters the voices they needed.

The audiobook also included an unexpected and even shorter story called Laurie about a widower and an unwanted dog being forced upon him. All I got to say is that story went through one ear and left through the other. In fact, it is difficult to even comprehend its purpose.

Elevation is an intriguing yet run-of-the-mill short story about resilience, acceptance, and solidarity in the face of social discrimination.


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24 thoughts on “Elevation by Stephen King

  1. I read a lot of Stephen King, in fact, right now I’m listening to the audio edition of Nightmares & Dreamscapes. I typically like his shorter work- I might give this a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You and I had similar thoughts on this one. Good message but the characters and story didn’t feel up to what I’m used to from him. But I still have some other books by him I’ve yet to read, so I’m hopeful they might be more what I remember from when I used to read more of his work when I was younger. He’s capable of writing great characters, or at least that’s how I remember some of his stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree and confirm. He’s got other stories where he does characters impeccably. Almost feels like they could always be your neighbour (wanted or not). I think this one just felt like some sort of side experiment compared to the rest of the stuff he tends to right, at least to me. I’m still going to work my way through more of his stuff though!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A guy worried about becoming weightless sounds like a funny character for a kid’s book. Are we supposed to learn that a number (weight) does not define us since the guy’s looks don’t change (he’s not getting thinner). It doesn’t sound well thought out. Instead, the story sounds like a page of bullet points on what to do/not to do and how we should act. Meh.

    Liked by 1 person

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