Author: Stephen King
Published: October 7th 2014
Publisher: S&S Audio
Length: 4 hrs and 20 mins
Source: Publisher for review
Now a Lifetime original movie, Stephen King's haunting story about an author of a series of mystery novels who tries to reconcile her old life with her life after a horrific attack and the one thing that can save her: Revenge.Tess Thorne, a famous mystery writer, faces a long drive home following a book signing engagement. Advised to take a shortcut at the suggestion of the event’s planner, Tess sets out for home, well after dark. On a lonely stretch of New England road, her tire blows out, and when a man in a pick up stops, it is not to help her, but to repeatedly assault her and leave her for dead. Tess survives, and she plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself, capable of gruesome violence.
Big Driver, a story originally published in King’s well-known 2010 anthology Full Dark, No Stars, was recently made into a Lifetime TV movie and aired in October 2014. The movie prompted a tie-in edition of the story, and the audio edition which was pulled from the original anthology audiobook.
Most days, Stephen King’s books are more than I can stomach. I generally read to avoid cruelty and real-life horror, and King’s stories bring precisely that into my merry head-in-the-sand existence. Therefore, I tend to run the other way, except in the case of Dolores Claiborne, which is one of my favorite books of all time. But this Halloween, inspired by Ann Aguirre’s beautiful guest post about human cruelty and evil, I wanted to avoid things that go bump in the night and dedicate my evening to purely human horrors instead. Big Driver seemed like an excellent choice. And it was.
Tess is a writer, but not as famous as some. I didn’t think King even remembered what not being famous was like, but Tess’s life before the attack seemed very realistic. One day, she gets invited to speak in a library and on her way back, she gets attacked, raped, brutalized and left for dead by a huge giant of a man. Slowly, as she quite literally crawls back from the brink of dead, thoughts of revenge start going through her head and she decides not to report the attack to the authorities, but to take matters into her own hands instead.
For this woman, as I saw her, becoming a victim simply wasn’t an option. She was victimized, yes, but she never fell into the mindset of a victim, and even when she came close, she responded with deep and ferocious anger instead. She was far too strong, first to die, and then to publicly become the victim of such a violent crime. Her mental process, the way her thoughts slowly went to revenge and rationalization, was simply astonishing to witness. Then again, King was always a master of characterization, the writer who understands human nature perhaps better than anyone else. With Tess, he showed that he still knows exactly what he’s doing and that he’s more than ready to show us the best and worst parts of being human, and especially those grey areas where we can’t tell which is which.
Jessica Hecht narrated this story with so much heart. Her narration made me extremely uncomfortable at times, which was precisely the point, I suppose. Narrating such and emotionally intense story likely wasn’t easy, and I can’t even imagine reading those awful rape scenes out loud. But she not only read them, she added a little something of her own, and made Big Driver a slightly better read.
This is not something that can be picked up lightly, but I’d highly recommend it. Brace yourselves, though. It’s very difficult to get through.