book of the week, king

the book of the week goes to…The Green Mile by Stephen King. King, one of my favorite horror/suspense/mystery novelists along with Dean Koontz,  wrote this little jewel in ’96, when I was five years old. This book held my interest particularly because I’ve always been strongly passionate about corruption in prison and I plan on working in one sometime in the near future. But enough about me, here’s the summery of the book in a nutshell:

“Set in the 1930s at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death-row facility, The Green Mile is the riveting and tragic story of John Coffey, a giant, preternaturally gentle inmate condemned to death for the rape and murder of twin nine-year-old girls. It is a story narrated years later by Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent compelled to help every prisoner spend his last days peacefully and every man walk the green mile to execution with his humanity intact. Edgecomb has sent seventy-eight inmates to their date with “old sparky,” but he’s never encountered one like Coffey — a man who wants to die, yet has the power to heal. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecomb discovers the terrible truth about Coffey’s gift, a truth that challenges his most cherished beliefs — and ours. Originally published in 1996 in six self-contained monthly installments, The Green Mile is an astonishingly rich and complex novel that delivers over and over again. Each individual volume became a huge success when first published, and all six were on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously.” –the Boston Globe

Themes of the book:

“Like I said, the movie touches upon many topics, and each of them is worthy of comment. It illustrates the true nature of the death penalty, showing how cruel and barbaric it is as well as showing how innocent people can easily be put in positions where they are executed unjustly. The movie also touches upon the issue of Judeo-Christian faith and god, and as an atheist, I found it the least interesting topic (it’s also not sufficiently explored except to illustrate that god wouldn’t have given powers like the kind Coffey has if Coffey truly was destined to be a child killer). The movie is about compassion—Coffey is a Christ-like figure who dies for humanity’s sins, crucified by people who don’t know better. Yet he himself is not capable of complete forgiveness (unlike good old JC), and a key portion of the plot involves him getting his revenge (to the rousing cheers of the audience). But as I say above, ultimately what ties all of this together is that everyone seeks to harm someone else, whether justified or not. The parents of the children Coffey is believed to have killed have venom in their minds against him. Percy and a maniacal prison inmate (Sam Rockwell) seek nothing more than perverse destruction. Even the prison guards really have one sole purpose: to help kill. Coffey appears to be the only one who truly seeks to heal, but that is not without exception either and in the end, he too kills with his love.” –Ram samudrala

The book was turned into a film three years after it’s publication, featuring Tom Hanks as Paul, and Michael Duncan as John. The movie is told in flashbacks and won four academy awards.

Click here to listen to King talk about the Green Mile:

click here to watch the film’s trailer:

To see what King lists at his top ten books for ’09, go here:,,20331246,00.html


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