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New York Times Review
THERE'S NOTHING really light about Stephen King. Not the size of his books (hundreds of pages, often) nor what they are about (death and terror, regularly). But as if provoked by the current state of our politics - which he can't help tweeting about - King has delivered a near-weightless tale. I read "Elevation" in less time than it took to watch last year's movie adaptation of "It." Weight is the preoccupation of this slim novel, which at first feels like a riff on one of King's earliest works (written under a pseudonym), "Thinner," about an overweight and callous lawyer who is beset by a curse that has him rapidly dropping pounds. Here, Scott Carey, an average small-town Mainer, is afflicted by a mysterious condition in which he starts to lose weight while outwardly appearing the same. Scott looks 240 pounds. He shows up to his retired doctor's office wearing a parka, pockets full of quarters and maxes out at 212. Later that night? 210.8 pounds. Two days later? 207.6 pounds. That size-40 waist remains, though. But King also has in mind the weight of close-mindedness and prejudice. A local lesbian couple, Missy and Deirdre, have opened Holy Frijole, a fancy Mexican restaurant. The fact that they are openly married has turned a good part of the town against them and put their restaurant in jeopardy. "The county went for Trump three-to-one in T6 and they think our stonebrain governor walks on water," one character says. "If those women had kept it on the down low they would have been fine, but they didn't. Now there are people who think they're trying to make some kind of statement." Intertwining the fantastical and the mundane has long been one of King's trademarks. Here, Scott just wants to break through Deirdre's hard exterior and help her save her restaurant. Some of their neighbors are jerks. One of the story's most gripping moments hinges on the results of a Thanksgiving Day Türkey Trot. It's all pretty small. But in the background the numbers on the scale continue downward. One of King's other great strengths is the ease with which he can sketch a community or a group of friends. He did it to great effect earlier this year in "The Outsider," his crime-horror best seller about a smalltown Oklahoma Little League coach accused of a grisly murder. And here, Scott, his doctor Bob and the put-upon lesbian couple eventually form a little pod of affection in a town that can wound through tiny cruelties. Speaking of that town, it's the fictional Castle Rock, setting of several short stories as well as King's early novels "The Dead Zone," "Cujo" and "Needful Things." The latter was subtitled "The Last Castle Rock Story," though in this time of expanded universes and crossover narratives, why let the dead rest? Last year, King co-wrote a novella set in the town and just this summer, Hulu dropped 10 episodes of its own Castle Rock-set series, giving the Kingverse the prestige drama treatment. There's more than a hint of the "holiday novella" - so popular in the romance genre - to "Elevation," and I imagine many fans would be satisfied if King settled into a late career of one heavy meal and one amuse bouche every year. While the final pages are reminiscent of one of his son Joe Hill's best short stories (to mention the title would give away too much), there's a sweetness that feels like something new for King. It's heavy out there right now. Here's something that's not. GILBERT CRUZ is the culture editor at The Times.
Library Journal Review
In King's newest novella, website designer Scott Carey has some health concerns. For one, the scale is showing steady, progressive weight loss-often one to two pounds a day-with no effort on his part. Even stranger, his body isn't changing along with the weight loss. He still has the middle-aged potbelly of a man who weighs 240 pounds, even though the scale shows 180. His friend, Doc Ellis, is just as stumped. It seems that gravity is selectively failing around Scott. Eventually, it will lose its hold and Scott will simply float away. He's not quite ready to give up, though. When he notices that the townspeople of Castle Rock are shunning a new restaurant owned by a lesbian couple, he works to open the minds of his fellow residents. VERDICT With no pun intended, Elevation is a slight work with a warm and optimistic heart at its center but not much in the way of plot. King's Constant Readers will enjoy the references to his earlier works and the familiar setting of Castle Rock, but this isn't essential King. Still, libraries should buy to fill demand. [Prepub Alert, 4/9/18.]-Jennifer Mills, Shorewood-Troy Lib., IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this surprisingly sweet and quietly melancholy short novel, King (The Outsider) weaves an eerie, charming tale of the ways that strange circumstances can bring people together. Scott Carey is losing weight, but not mass, and there's no scientific explanation for it. Scales register him as lighter and lighter, though his body remains as potbellied as ever, and the effect is constant regardless of what he's wearing or holding. Shaken by his untreatable, supernatural ailment, Scott begins to notice the world around him-and particularly becomes aware of the nasty prejudice that other residents of Castle Rock, Maine, are inflicting on his lesbian neighbors, Deirdre and Missy. He sets out to fix the injustice ailing their small town, and maybe make some friends along the way. This is a lilting ode to the ineffable power that crises hold to change and mold those involved into something new. King's tender story is perfect for any fan of small towns, magic, and the joys and challenges of doing the right thing. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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