A Light Taleby Deepa Gahlot December 13 2018, 4:35 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 32 secs
In his new book, Elevation, Stephen King writes in his own unique way about intolerance and how one man rises above it all in a way the reader would not be able to imagine or predict.
King fans would remember his 1984 novel, Thinner, in which a man is cursed with endless weight loss. In Elevation, healthy and happy-go-lucky 42-year-old Scott Carey discovers that he is losing weight at an alarming rate, but that makes no difference to his 230-pound appearance - he gets lighter but does not lose mass. He has reason to be unhappy - his wife left him; but also to be happy - he got a well-paid work assignment.
Scott goes to see a doctor friend, Bob Ellis, who tells him, “I doubt very much if this is something that can be scientifically investigated.” Scott does not want be turned into a science guinea pig and media freak, so decides to keep his strange condition to himself, swearing the doctor to secrecy. It would seem like a dream to some, to be able to eat as much as they want without putting on weight, and having surplus energy to run a marathon, but nothing comes without a tragic price.
Going alongside Scott’s affliction, is the hostility faced by his new neighbours, a married lesbian couple that has moved to the town of Castle Rock to run a vegetarian Mexican restaurant called Holy Frijole, which is on the verge of closing down for lack of patronage. Scott’s starts on the wrong foot with the more aggressive of the two, Deedee (the other partner is the mild-mannered Missy, a chef), by politely telling them that their dog is crapping on his lawn. He soon realizes that the women have more serious issues to deal with. When he gets into a scrap with a bully to defend his neighbours, Deedee gets inexplicably angry. His civility is so rudely rebuffed that he can only say, “All I want is for us to be good neighbours.”
The conservative town does not want the Deedee and Missy flaunting their ‘otherness’. A character comments to Scott, “The County went for Trump three-to-one in ’16 and they think our stone brain governor walks on water. If those women had kept it on the down-low they would have been fine, but they didn’t. Now there are people who think they’re trying to make some kind of statement.” And just like that, King gently slides in politics, intolerance and rigid social attitudes.
The book is simple, heartwarming (in spite of the cliché of a white male savior of women in distress) and stands for simple kindness over strident political correctness. It can be read in one quick sitting, but its impact on the mind will stay longer. The slim novella packs in more heart and soul into its few pages than many doorstopper tomes.
By Stephen King