Literary Inspiration: Christine

Christine Collage

I’m a huge Stephen King fan (Pet Sematary is my favourite novel, although I think I like his shorts best) but I haven’t read many of his earliest works – Carrie, Cujo, Firestarter, and until very recently, Christine.  Never been much of a car person, so I think I was a little frightened off by the subject matter.

But continuing to play along with my friends’ reading challenge, and with the theme of a library find or a gifted book calling out to me (indeed, Christine is a book I gifted to myself out of my condo’s library!) I thought it was time to pull Christine out of the garage and really see what she could do out on the open road.

Christine 1

Without giving too much away regarding the plot of this 35-year-old novel, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t strictly geared towards gearheads.  The events of the novel actually surround 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham.  Arnie’s smart, bright and funny, a hard worker and a great student, but he’s also tragically unpopular and run over roughshod by every single person in his life – his teachers, his overbearing mother and father, even his everydude best friend, Dennis.  That all changes the day he meets Christine, a rundown hunk of Plymouth junk rusting to death on a nasty old man’s lawn.  Arnie HAS to have her, won’t actually listen to a word of Dennis’s reasonable counsel regarding her poor condition, her vile, greedy owner or the total shit fit his parents are sure to have if he attempts to bring her home.  But bring her home he does, wildly overpaying for the red and white, 1958 Fury that will come to tear his tidy suburban life – as well as a good number of people! – to bits.

Thirty-five-year-old spoilers or no, we all know by now what Christine does – she’s the murder car!  I think it’s one of those terms that just might be part of the pop culture lexicon by now.  Even the back of the book jacket hammers home the elegantly horrific nightmare fuel that “Christine is no lady.  She is Stephen King’s ultimate, blackly evil vehicle of horror.”

Christine 4

But Christine is about so much more than a homicidal car.  I think it’s really a story about growing up, whether you’re an unpopular 17-year-old dork, that dork’s parents or the wretched old bastard who sold the dork a murder car.  It’s a quest for independence, a love story, a tale of obsession.  I liked it, even if I think King whiffed the ending.  Good to know that literary quirk of his started early. 😉

If you’ve been following along with this Literary Inspiration series, you know I like to do a manicure to accompany whatever book I’ve recently finished reading.  Here I was inspired by Petunia, a hot pink sanitation truck (her name is spelled out in giant gothic letters across her potbellied side) who gives Christine a run for her money.  That’ll do, Petunia. 🙂

Christine 2

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6 thoughts on “Literary Inspiration: Christine

  1. You’d think he’d learn how to finish a novel along the way. So full of premise and promise that man, too bad he can’t close er up.
    Wonderful review per usual, can’t say I’d read it, but I’m more likely w/you’re empathetic take. And you’re nails are bad to the bone! 🖤

    • I think one of the reasons I like Pet Sematary so much is because it has a clearly defined ending, it doesn’t equivocate too, too much (although I suppose it does sort of close on an open-ended note.) Have you ever read The Mist and/or seen the movie? The novella has a pissy little ending – it just kind of dribbles off the page. The movie (TV movie, I think, with Thomas Jane?) really goes for the big finish, and I think it’s so much better for it, even though I understand people LOATHED the movie ending. It’s a bit like the difference between Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet and the OG Shakespeare play – in the play, Juliet awakens after Romeo has taken the poison and died, but in Lurhman’s version, she awakens *just* as he’s put the vial of poison to his lips, half a millisecond too late. No one ever wants to hear this, but the Lurhman ending is better!

      • I’ve seen the tv movie, I think my brother and I watched it and thought it was sorta campy, but respectable if I remember correctly.
        Pet Sematary works on many more levels (of course I’ve only read parts while editing for a speech cutting-we didn’t end up doing it, but with the re-release I’m considering trying again next season).

        I don’t even know what to say to the R & J argument, not a big fan of the updated version. But I’ll agree the ending could be viewed as a better climax. With the play I always leave with a larger sense of irony and tragic wastefulness of youth and vendettas.

    • Thank you! I think it’s universally, begrudgingly accepted that King just doesn’t close very well. It’s like he runs out of steam 95 percent of the way there and is like, “Eh, let’s leave this one up to reader interpretation.” Sometimes I like a little specificity, man!

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