The Green Mile – Stephen King.
Stephen King was (still is) a name that I always dreaded till I read one of his very best works “The Shining” recently and lived to tell the tale. Hence decided to explore quite a few of his works (read all his books) as soon and as much as I can. I had no idea what all he had written as I said and I was shocked to know that three of my all time favorite movies are actually adapted from his works. Unbelievable and quite a pleasant surprise for me. “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” in question, just too good. I saw both the movies when they were released on big screen back then and totally loved them. Have seen them a couple of times already so decided to get and read the books too and what a terrific terrific journey it was to read “The Green Mile” that I just cant tell you, you’ve got to read the book if you haven’t already. As I said both the movies are so well made that I can never forget the visuals especially of the Green Mile and Big John Coffey with Tom Hanks as the death row supervisor. Before reading this book I though Stephen King is all about Horror / Thriller but this book changed it all and I realized that the guy has a superb sense of humor too, the way he puts the story across through his characters and all. Those hilarious one liners mostly from Boss Paul Edgecombe’s point of views were too good. Also, the way he has put across the time of “The Great Depression” of 1930s is simply too good.
Story is told in flash back from the point of view of Paul Edgecombe, who was the then Death Row Supervisor back in 30s at Cold Mountain Penitentiary when the electric chair was still in use to execute death row prisoners. Paul had executed 70+ criminals and the story is about the last one that he does and how his life changes after the execution or what all he goes through before that happens. It is one heck of a story coming from inside the prison that too about the inmates who are about to be killed for what they did. I couldn’t imagine the way he has carved out so many terrific characters who I would never be able to forget for the rest of my life and the way they did things, spoke, behaved and what not. Of-course the best of them is The Boss itself (so very well played by my favorite Tom Hanks in the movie) that I just couldn’t help imagining his face and expressions throughout the narrative. Also the hero of the story (as per me) is John Coffey the big black guy who is convicted for rape and killing of two 9 year old girls. As per him he was trying to save them but as per the law, he was the one who killed them, what was the reality? You’ve got to read the book to know that and just like Ove and Nakata, he will be another character that I just couldn’t help but fall in love with. The way he calls Paul as “Yessir Boss Paul Edgecombe” is too kool and puts a smile on my face all the time but my heart cried out for his overflowing eyes as his tears just wont stop for what he did or for what he couldn’t do. Ever so soft spoken, who could do no wrong to no one, how he gets convicted and the ending did put a big big lump in my throat and totally made me breathless.
Some-other superb characters who need a mention are Brutus Howell as Paul’s right hand man, a kind of giant in his own rights but a terrific terrific side kick. Percy Wetmore as the bad cop who gets his due as per me for screwing such a nice guy (another criminal to be executed for killing half a dozen people) the Frenchmen Delacroix and his superb pet (Mr. Jingles) the magical rat and his secret that no one knows but Paul. One guy that will always be in my memory is cute Toot Toot, the death row’s delivery man with his van and the way he behaved while they practice the Electric Chair execution using him as a dummy and he will always cry out “I’m fryin I’m frying, I am done tom turkey” and the villain “Billy the kid”. How John Coffey touches and changes so many lives around him inside the Penitentiary is simply too good, he has some kind of power that he himself isn’t aware of what it is but the way he works it out and how he touches so many lives as I said is what you need to read the book for and enjoy the movie too.
As I said Stephen King has some sense of humor hence I just cant resist mentioning this that at one point of time he indeed mentioned in the story that Paul’s wife was going to meet her cousin a someone named Jane Austen who wrote books :). Also, he mentioned that Gone with the wind was a crap and Perry Mason was a crappy writer – all done so subtly as a part of the story that I he just made me ROFL.