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The Green Mile () Top 100 Books of the Millenium (97)

Much has been made of the supposed emergence of a new spiritual aspect in Stephen King's recent writings (see Orrin's review of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon) and indeed, The Green Mile is almost a direct rip off of the story of Jesus Christ.   But for whatever reason--one assumes it is simple discomfort with genuine religious beliefs--King cops out again and misses a golden opportunity to produce a really significant work.

At first glance folks may resist the suggestion that this book is a sort of modern Gospel; it is after all set on Death Row, with prison guards for apostles and the Messiah is a gargantuan simpleton who is also black and awaiting execution for the brutal murder of two young girls.  But John Coffey (get it, even his initials are J. C.) isn't just a convict, he is also an empath and he has the gift of healing.  His enormous stature and diminished intellect mask a soul in agony, for he is constantly buffeted by the evils of the world; he truly does feel our pain, all of our pain.  The guards, lead by Paul Edgecomb, come to believe in both his powerful gift and ultimately in his innocence.  But even after Paul proves beyond doubt that Coffey did not commit the crimes, they are forced to participate in his relentless destiny with the electric chair (Coffey's cross), even as Christ's disciples stood idly by while he was being crucified.  Coffey, like Christ, goes to his Golgotha without resisting, despite what we know to be his tremendous power--the path to Coffey's execution, the eponymous Green Mile, resembling Christ's trip down the Via Dolorosa.  And in the final and clinching parallel, Paul (as in Saint Paul) sees Coffey, or his spirit, again after his death.

The book then, narrated by Paul, is a Gospel of John Coffey, testifying to the miracles he worked and to his crucifixion and resurrection.  But after confidently leading us through these events, what conclusions does Paul/King draw?--that life is horrible and senseless because Coffey died.  It's as if Mark, Luke, John and Matthew had abandoned Christianity because Christ was executed.  I found this conclusion to be really disappointing.  That one could witness these miracles and wonders and not come away with some kind of faith struck a discordant note.

Overall, I liked the book, perhaps as much as anything that King has ever written, but as always seems to be the case with him, I thought he had a chance to hit a homerun and then settled for a double or triple.  He does deserve bonus points for accomplishing all of this in serial form.  This is the best serial novel since Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, assuming that King really did write each installment separately and send them out as he finished.  The guy writes so fast he could easily have written the whole thing and sent it out one piece at a time.  But we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.


Interesting to see your review of The Green Mile pop up on the website today-- just finished it myself.  Is that a recent review, or recycled?  Would also be nice if you dated your reviews, at least for those  of us who are frequent perusers of the site-- a nice to know, not a need to.

(from Brothers Judd--N.B.  The date a review is posted can be found after the links following the review)

In terms of The Green Mile, I agreed with your point that it was a good story that ended badly.  I found the Christian allegory to be obvious, but John Coffey is a compelling enough creation that you stay with the story until being let down by Paul's whining at the end.  Spare me the the last chapter of his mewling over why the Christ figure could help in one case but not the other-- a real letdown to the rest of the book, which  was pretty good.

The other point I was surprised you didn't take on in your review was the anti-death penalty propaganda that I took to be the main message of the story.  Don't be so quick to execute prisoners, you might be killing Christ!  By setting up death row as a situation where most of the prisoners are empathetic, where the guards come to identify with their prisoners, and where the actual death sequence is bungled by authority was annoying, to say the least.  We're supposed to feel bad that an admitted rapist/murderer dies in horrible pain?  I don't think so!  To my mind, King remains a writer of interesting stories who gets in trouble when he tries to go any deeper than good guys and bogeymen.

Chuck's GRADE: B


Grade: (A-)


Stephen King Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Stephen King
    -ENTRY: Stephen King (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Shining (novel)
    -ENTRY: The Shining (Haley Bracken, Encyclopaedia Britannica)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Dr. Sleep
    -EXCERPT: from The Shining
    -INTERVIEW: The Blue-Collar King: An Interview with Stephen King (Angela S. Allan interviews Stephen King, OCTOBER 25, 2015, LA Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: STEPHEN KING IS QUIETLY ENTHRALLED BY "THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK": The poem that seems to hold a secret to the Stephen King multiverse (BRENNA EHRLICH, 10/04/19, Crime Reads)
    -ESSAY: Bakhtin's Carnival Reversed: King's The Shining as Dark Carnival (Linda J. Holland?Toll, 05 March 2004, Journal of Popular Culture)
    -ESSAY: THE DEPTHS OF STEPHEN KING’S MISERY: Misery doesn't play with the supernatural, but it may just be King's best, most profound, and most spiritual story (MICHAEL LEDWIDGE, 2/04/21, Crime Reads)
    -ESSAY: Deadlights and Shine: Connecting Later to the Stephen King Multiverse (Marie Cummings, March 5, 2021, B&N Reads)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Stephen King (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining by Stephen King (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Julie Parsons, Irish Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Grady Hendrix, Tor)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (James Smythe, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Anthony Wolk, Science Fiction Foundation)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Hanan, The Doodeh Life)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Dine, SFF Book Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Colin D. Smith)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Glass Typewriter)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Little Man Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Inverarity is not a Scottish village)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Emily Weatherburn, A Literary Life)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (West Chester Public Library)
    -REVIEW: of The Shining (Wayne C. Rogers, Horror Novel Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep by Stephen King (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Ian Thomson, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Steven Poole, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Margaret Atwood, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Alan Cheuse, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Roger Luckhurst, LA Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Lisa LaDouceur, Macleans)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Sam Coale, Prrovidence Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (James Kidd, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Alan Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Matthew J. Trafford, National Post)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (MICHAEL ROBBINS, Chicago Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep ( Joelle Herr, BookPage)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Grady Hendrix, Tor)
    -REVIEW: of Dr. Sleep (Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of BLACK HOUSE by Stephen King and Peter Straub (Sam Phipps, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Later by Stephen King (Darragh McManus, Independent ie)
    -REVIEW: of
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Stanley Kubrick (IMDB)
    -TRIBUTE SITE: The Shining: an analysis of the Stanley Kubrick classic
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: The Shining (Metacritic)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: The Shining (Rotten Tomatoes)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: The Shining (1980) (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: The Shining (1997)(tv) (IMDB)
    -FILM TRIBUTE SITE: Overlook Hotel
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Dr. Sleep (Rotten Tomatoes)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Dr. Sleep (IMDB)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Room 237
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Room 237 (Rotten Tomatoes)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Room 237 (IMDB)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Room 237 (Metacritic)
    -ESSAY: Inside Stanley Kubrick’s annotated copy of Stephen King’s novel ‘The Shining' (Far Out, 5/23/20)
    -INTERVIEW: Kubrick on The Shining (An interview with Michel Ciment, Visual Memory)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Shelley Duvall (Roger Ebert, December 14, 1980, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -ESSAY: The Real Reason Stephen King Despises the Movie Version of ‘The Shining’ (Amanda Harding, October 31, 2019, showbiz Cheatsheet)
    -ESSAY: Stephen King Famously Hated Kubrick's The Shining. He Says Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep Redeems It : “All I can say is, Mike took my material, he created a terrific story, people who have seen this movie flip for it, and I flipped for it, too.” (BRADY LANGMANN, NOV 6, 2019, Esquire)
    -ESSAY: Here’s “The Shining” deep dive you need to prep for “Doctor Sleep”: Why Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation is actually a hopeful movie that challenges social issues and death itself (MATTHEW ROZSA, NOVEMBER 6, 2019, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Why does Stephen King hate Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining so much? (Biba Kang, 14 JUNE 2019, The Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: Stephen King says Doctor Sleep film 'redeems' Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: The novelist "flipped" for Mike Flanagan's new movie (Clark Collis, November 05, 2019, Entertainment Weekly)
    -ESSAY: Stephen King's Hatred For Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, Explained (Will Ashton, NOV. 5. 2019, Cinema Blend)
    -ESSAY: The Family of Man (Bill Blakemore, 1987, San Francisco Chronicle)
    -ESSAY: Why does Stephen King hate the original movie of ‘The Shining’ but love ‘Doctor Sleep’?: The celebrated author has said that everything he disliked about Stanley Kubrick's iconic horror has been "redeemed" in 'Doctor Sleep' (Sam Moore, 6th November 2019, NME)
-PODCAST: ‘The Shining’ With Bill Simmons, Sean Fennessey, and Chris Ryan (Bill Simmons, Sean Fennessey, and Chris Ryan Oct 31, 2019, The Rewatchables)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Pauline Kael, The New Yorker)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Roger Ebert)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (James Berardinelli, reel Views)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Gary Arnold, Washington Post)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Kevin Thomas, LA Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Eric Henderson, Slant)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Marjorie Baumgartner, austin Chronicle)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Adam Nayman, The Ringer)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Kevin John Bozelka, Common Sense Media)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (David Sterritt, CS Monitor)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Richard Combs, BFI)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Adrian Turner, Radio Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Killian Fox, The Observer)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Robert Hatch, The Nation)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Derek Malcom, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Shining (Lawrence O'Toole, Macleans)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Miles Surrey, The Ringer)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Brian Tallerico,
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Sean Keane, C/Net)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Brian Lowry, CNN)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Brian Truitt, USA Today)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Sam Adams, Slate)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (AP)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (A.O. Scott, NY Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Deangelo Hawkins Clay, Eastern Echo)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Vaneesa Cook, LA Review of Books)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Eric Kohn, Indie Wire)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Owen Gleiberman, Variety)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Sebastian Wurzrainer, The Dartmouth)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (JENNIFER OUELLETTE, Ars Technica)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Film School Rejects)
    -FILM REVIEW: Dr. Sleep (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Kyle Smith, NY Post)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Jim Emerson,
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Adam Nayman, The Ringer)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Beth Hanna, Indie Wire)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Scott Tobias, NPR)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (David Haglund, Slate)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Manohla Dargis, NY Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Noel Murray, AV Club)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Stephen Marche, Esquire)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Ian Freer, Empire)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Matt Goldberg, Collider)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Marc Mohan, The Oregonian)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Peter Rainer, CS Monitor)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Kenneth Turan, LA Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (David Edelstein, Vulture)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Marc Lee, The Telegraph)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Matt Pais, Chicago Tribune)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Globe & Mail)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Beth Accomando, KPBS)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (John Serba, MLive)
    -FILM REVIEW: Room 237 (Rob Nelson, Variety)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Life & Times : Stephen King (1947 -- ) (NY Times)
    -Official Stephen King Web Presence
    -BIO: Stephen King (1947-)(kirjasto)
    -BIO & INDEX: STEPHEN KING (1947-)(Books Unlimited, UK)
    -INTERVIEW: Up close and personal with Stephen King (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon)
    -The King of Death: Andrew O'Hehir peers into the terrifying world of one of our most important writers -- and recommends five Stephen King novels for newcomers. (Salon)
    -Stephen King Page
    -Unofficial Stephen King Homepage
    -Stephen King Website
    -Stephen King WebRing
    -Stephen King Links Springboard
    -Stephen King Links
    -Reader's Choice: Stephen King Novels
    -ESSAY: The Gospel According to Stephen King: The world's most famous 'horror writer' is also one of its most spiritually attuned novelists (Steve Lansingh, Christianity Today)
    -ESSAY: The Metamorphosis of Stephen King (elizabeth hand, Voice Literary Supplement)
    -EXCERPT: The Green Mile Chapter One
    -REVIEWS: - The Green Mile

    -The Green Mile (Official Movie Site)
    -REVIEW: (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times)