Stephen King, Carrie (Signet, 1974; Pocket Books, 2002)

Puberty fully releases a teenage girl's telekinetic abilities, and an unknown author begins a career that will make him one of the best-selling authors of all time. The girl is Carrie White and the author is Stephen King.

King's book Carrie is a wonderful introduction to his writings. All the aspects that make his works so readable are already there. A horrific but completely plausible storyline, a character we can instantly relate to as a real person, and a runaway train of an ending that actually begins one-third of the way into the book. (The parenthetical asides that would become his trademark are also already present, albeit more prevalent than they would later become.)

Carrie White is persecuted from all sides. Her mother is a religious zealot who believes that Carrie was a product of sin and therefore should have been killed at birth, and the popular kids at her high school invariably choose her for the butt of their pranks. Carrie seems able to handle all this with relative aplomb, only occasionally resorting to her telekinetic powers for assistance.

But all that changes on the night of the prom. Several small events lead up to one real cracker, and all bets are off.

King is excellent at depicting the stages of the storyline. Using fictitious newspaper clippings and quotes from books written afterwards, he tells a exciting tale of a girl who just couldn't take it anymore.

His writing is very visually oriented, his description instantly translating into vivid images. It is no wonder that Brian De Palma saw in Carrie the potential for a film. Even though some changes were made, the film of Carrie is still one of the most faithful cinematic translations of King's work.

By no means Stephen King's best book, Carrie exhibits the makings of greatness. Carrie is like a child in whom one can see the potential for the adult that he will become.

[Craig Clarke]

Find out what's happening in King's realm by visiting his Web site.