Scott Carey is weathering the downslope of middle age nicely enough when he discovers he has the kind of problem we’d all love to have: no amount of fatty carbs and other heavy food seem to make him gain an ounce.
Every day, every hour almost, he weighs less. It’s only when he realises that there is no getting off this world’s most enviable slimming programme that he learns what it is to be fully, truly alive.
Stephen King’s Elevation is a slim novella, which I read in one breathless gulp, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It is about a man facing an insurmountable, unbelievable challenge. It is about courage and infinite grace. And I want you, constant reader (the form of address stolen from King) to get reading without wasting a minute, so that I can enjoy your enjoyment all over again.
For those of us who write for a living, King’s astonishing speed in adding to his pile of publications, is a matter of deep envy. How, how does he do it? His journey as a writer has been impacted by many ups and downs in his personal life (his long battle with addiction, his slow-but-sure recovery after a terrible accident), but all along, King has acknowledged the abiding love of his wife Tabitha. They were young and penniless; now they are rich beyond their dreams but they have been together through thick and thin.
That love is all there is is the thing that holds this bizarre, profoundly moving tale together. King is the king of the bizarre, the macabre, the ghostly, the ghastly, and I’m not too mad about his out-and-out ‘horror’ novels. The ones I love are those in which he focuses on the human heart and its failings and strengths, with an unerring sense of humour and optimism, and it is that — yes, there is blood, but yes, we will survive — is what makes King so special.
Our getting-lighter-by-the-day Scott has new neighbours, a pair of women who are being given a hard time by the good folk of the fictional town of Castle Rock, which we know so well because it appears in many of King’s works. The women are stiff and unfriendly, but we know, as two and two is five, that they will unbend. We also know that one of Scott’s oldest friends, his family doctor, Bob, will be part of this story.
Scott eats a fabulous meal. Runs a cracking marathon. Manages to break through to the two ladies who want nothing more than to belong, to each other, and to the town they have chosen. Bumps along walls, having to tether himself to railings because he is, you know, dwindling. And we know that finally, for Scott, and for us, along with the sense of an ending, there will be an elevation.
That’s where I am, up above the sky so high, still rising.