Gerald’s Game

by Stephen King

Read this in about 5 minutes

Once I had an ardent fan of King describe to me the novels that he writes. ‘Think of everything gory and horrific. Now narrate it as if you are at a distance but living through it. As it happens to someone else but you know you are not invincible either.’ This is exactly how I felt when I read my first fiction by the celebrated author.

‘Gerald’s Game’ crossed my path during my time with Netflix addiction. Netflix was releasing the movie version of the book. The trailer looked promising. I decided it was a good time to start reading the book.

Cover: Gerald's Game

Cover page

I own the kindle version of the copy. On the cover is a handcuff just a little shy from looking like an erotica. The font gives it away. The cover is nothing extraordinary. However, it works.

Characters

Jesse is a woman nearing her forties. She is a simple wage earner, a teacher by profession. She liked her ordinary life and ordinary choices that she used to make until she met her lawyer husband - Gerald. Gerald is everything that her father used to be. A lawyer and completely disinterested in the family. Also, a probable alcoholic. Jesse ended up choosing the same man she tried running away from all her life. It is a slow immersive painless death. Moreover, she knows it.

Apart from the human characters, there are Ruth and Goodwife who talk to Jesse inside her head. There is the prince but really, he is a dog. There is also a man whose hands reach beyond his knees but he is really made of moonlight.

King not only has distinctive imagination designing these characters but also has the grace of giving each one its own voice.

Content

The book begins with Jesse tied to the bedposts with the help of handcuffs. She and Gerald hoped to indulge in some kinky sex to revive their sex life. Actually, it was Gerald’s idea, Jesse just played along to not upset Gerald. Jesse chickened out at the last moment and killed Gerald. Well, she just kicked him once in his groin and another at his chest. He died of heart attack. Now she is may be relieved but she is tied to the bedposts and most likely die this way since it’s the end of summer and all the neighbours have left their country house to go back to the city. There is no one around to hear her scream for help.

The way the book begins is curiously engrossing. The descriptions are elaborate. Jesse’s indifference towards her husband comes by quickly followed by her split personality and that followed by the child abuse she suffered from.

All the layers slowly peel off one at a time like the dog who is grabbing one skin at a time with wild roar. The voices talking in the head are entertaining if that sounds correct. Ruth is a go-getter whereas Goodwife is a sober self-blaming submissive woman. They collide and somewhere Jesse is stuck in a rut and fighting with herself while trying to rescue herself.

There is a dog prince who is a prince of nowhere. There is also a supernatural element in the book. A man who collects the ears, fingers and what not of dead bodies and a piece of jewellery.

King has a narrative style that is surpassing all the expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Somehow, the end did not satiate me but I still liked the flow of the book. It held my attention until the end.

Language

The language is simple. Stephen King reaches out to all kinds of reads. The narration is attention controlling. It knows when to catch and when to let go. A mark of a great thriller.

Good points

The characters are extraordinary. You will want to know more about them but the narration gives you the right drips at right time. The content is engrossing. The book is a great work of art.

Bad Points

The cover page could have been better. The ending of the book is nothing what you expect. The trough in the graph falls towards the end.

Overall

I am very much intrigued by King’s writing. I will probably pick up one of his more famous works. This one is a good book but I will not call it the ultimate.

Whom do I recommend this to

This is for thriller lovers. Those who like gory psychological reads are going to love this one too.

Quotable quotes

But how did you tell your husband of almost twenty years that every time he grinned he looked as if he were suffering from light mental retardation. The answer was simple, of course: you didn’t.

Until you passed Talker’s Test, you should have to be a mute.

It pulled, applying pressure slowly, stretching the fleas further and further. Gerald began to look as if he were deep in some monstrous pout. The lip finally tore off, revealing his bottom teeth in a big dead grin. The dog swallowed this small delicacy in a single gulp, then licked its chops.

I’ve come more and more to believe in these last few months that the only reason a man sticks a ring on your finger is because he law no longer allows him to put one through your nose.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com