If you have a pulse, you’ve probably seen The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont’s universally acclaimed 1994 film based on this King classic. The film is great, but the novella – published in 1982’s Different Seasons – is a different experience.
The plot itself isn’t radically different from the movie, but on the page, King’s story MOVES. There’s not a single dull moment in the 100 pages of this slim novella. King packs a lot of exposition and backstory about the narrator, Red, and the wrongly convicted inmate Andy Dufresne in the tale’s first 12 pages, but I’ll call you a liar if you tell me reading those pages takes you more than 3 minutes. I’ll accuse you further if you can’t remember all of the details.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption also notably marked King’s first major step outside the horror genre that brought him so much success. Up to this point, King had been known as a purveyor of the grisly. But, while there are plenty of dark corners and passages to make your skin crawl, the scares are firmly rooted in the real world, and despite the darkness, the story never loses its light.
King subtitled Shawshank ‘Hope Springs Eternal,’ and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this tale. The bleary and bleak outlook of King’s early work vanishes, and is replaced by an infectious optimism. The story of Andy Dufresne remaking and rebuilding his life from inside the walls of a prison constantly looks forward to its inevitable conclusion, treating any setbacks as mere bumps in the road. If you ever wanted to witness Stephen King at his most uplifting, look no further than this riveting read.
Trey Wydysh is The Geekiverse’s resident Stephen King superfan. You can find all of our 31 Days Of Stephen King posts here. Got a King question? Looking for a recommendation? Feel free to ask Trey on Twitter.
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