Carrie Recaps: Part Nineteen

by thethreepennyguignol

Sorry for the break between chapters (a refrain so well-repeated you must know it by heart by now). I’ve been travelling a lot, and work has been piling up, and sometimes I just want to sit and play old LucasArts games from the late nineties instead of grinding away at another chapter of this book, you know? Anyway. Of interest: I read the new Stephen King book, The Outsider, and it was yet another example of his recent work that starts really strongly before fading to meh by the end of the third act. That said, it did feature a really strong female character (lifted from a totally seperate trilogy, mind you, which annoyed me in it’s own right) who was never referred to by her titties, so…progress?

We pick up where we left off last time, as Billy and Chris flee their most recent fuck location and run into a vengeful Carrie who’s determined to finish them off. And honestly, much like the Margaret confrontation in the first chapter, this is just a really awesome action-horror sequence: Billy attempts to get away in his car, but Carrie takes control of it and causes it to crash, spearing Billy on the steering column, and it feels right that he should meet his end with a phallic object stuck through him.

But the events of the night have left Carrie drained and near-death, and after the attack on Billy and Chris she lies on her back in the street and stares at the stars. And I’ve got to say, I do like this sequence: in so many of these stories, the monster coming into their full power ends with them as an impossibly towering villain, but Carrie is physically ruined by what she’s done – but it was worth it, because she got what she wanted. She thinks about her mother, internally begging for her help as she realizes she’s dying.

Finally, FINALLY, we’re back with Sue Snell. If there’s one thing this third act has been lacking, it’s some serious time with my favourite character in Carrie. And it’s awesome to slide into her POV here as she attempts to make the remotest bit of sense of what has happened over the course of the night – hell, there’s even a little nod to Macbeth (“Carrie hath murdered time”) as though Stephen knew I’d be reading this and that even ten years after I first picked up the play Macbeth is my favourite piece of writing of all time. And the sheer chaos and destruction of the night is really laid out gorgeously here, with King exploring the destruction of this quaint little town through the destruction of this quaint little girl. I think Carrie as a whole is a book that I wouldn’t neccessarily recommend to someone (or not without conditions), but once in a while there are just these solid runs of great writing that are a joy to read, mostly the action or explicit horror scenes (and that’s true of the rest of his books too – the most memorable scenes in his books, for my money, is that ratcheting, relentless application of tension and the slow swell of chaos).

Of course, it’s time to take a step away from all this really cool stuff and back into some – say it with me now  – EXCERPTS. We first get more of an explanation of the telekenesis gene as it relates to Carrie, and honestly the more these segments pop up the more I think they’re just such an ugly, clumsy choice of exposition, but at the same time, I’m not really sure how they could have exposited all of the background psychic stuff in a less beat-you-over-the-head way. Perhaps we don’t need this background at all? Taking Carrie at face value, as simply a girl bestowed with mysterious powers, is an interesting book in it’s own right, and would have given us more time with the characters that King seems to have such a good grasp on (like Sue).

We go back to Sue’s testimony in front of a court after the night of the prom, and I have to say I would have loved to see this from her point of view at the time: the previous segment, of Sue just coming apart at the seams as she is psychically drawn to the injured Carrie, was really compelling, and this feels like a missed opportunity to delve into it more. I don’t think the post-incident interviews are as bad as the dry academic analysis (which is, you know, really well written as dry academic analysis, but is boring as hell to read nonetheless), but King writes so much more strongly in an immediate first-person POV that it’s hard not to want that instead.

And we close out the chapter as Sue recounts her psychic attraction to Carrie across the ruined town. I’m sincerely hoping to have another recap up next week, since we only have a couple left before we’re done for good! What do you want me to recap next? Let me know in the comments below and, as ever, if you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

(header image courtesy of SSP Think Film)