Major bummer alert.
Elevation by Stephen King is a kooky short story set in a small, conservative town about a nice fat bloke called Scott who is losing weight but still looks exactly the same, and the initial fractious engagement with his lesbian neighbours.
Several pages in, there is still little attributing scientific or medical explanation for Scott’s rapid weight loss while mysteriously sustaining his ample mass, despite the involvement of a benign but utterly useless doctor – go figure – and so my heart was already halfway out of the door. More often than not, you were repeatedly left wondering what exactly was the purpose of his affliction.
I suspect as a metaphor this was to demonstrate that individuals and communities should rise above their prejudices and all get along. However, I fail to see how lazy cliche stereotypes of gay women – grumpy vegetarians (hahaha) – or indeed the bizarre construct to actively depict a white heterosexual man as the only one able to, ‘save’, them from the unprovoked hatred of the town with the least amount of effort on his part, shows much evolvement.
What is also troubling, is the female gay characters are therefore depicted without any apparent capacity or autonomy in their own right to educate others by generally being productive, decent and comfortable in themselves. This lack is not remotely enlightening or progressive from the original issue that brave but ham-fisted King, with his own unfortunate case of unconscious bias, is trying to confront.
Nothing about this story rang true. Everyone had split personalities. Even the cat had a shit name. Nothing much happened – other than the billowing backdrop of Scott’s quantum conundrum – and the mute button was inexplicably and miraculously pressed on everyone’s politics (wouldn’t happen) so they all end up as best buddies upon Scott’s demise.
The contrived and unnecessary finale was so saccharine I could have puked. Aside from the homophobic pitch fork wielding townsfolk, that was pretty much the only horror in this entire short story by King – me wanting to dry retch over the edge of the armchair.
The gravity lost to Scott as he reaches day zero beautifully matches the weight of this work, and the other irony being that, ‘Elevation’, may well leave the reader feeling somewhat deflated.
Stephen King is undeniably a prolific genius. Usually, I adore him. On another positive note, the story was short and we all have days when we are more preoccupied with wanting to take acid and shave the cat or whatever the f—k he was doing.
I feel like I have force fed myself a pie made of lard and rocks and poo bags and now I need to read Proust, Vonnegut or even Bukowski as a palate cleanser. Bukowski as a palate cleanser – imagine.
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