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21. Picture This: Stephen King's Queer Gothic

Steven Bruhm

Subject Literature

Key-Topics gothic literature, queer theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631206200.2001.00023.x


The Overlook Hotel, playground of the rich and famous in Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining , is redolent with homosexuality. Its erratic finances seem to require a gay man's touch for redecorating to keep it in the black. For example, there is the current manager Mr Ullman, a ‘fat fairy’ ( King, 1977 , 21) who doubtless powders his hands to keep them smooth and white (65), yet whose capacities as an ‘officious little prick’ (4) and ‘fucking little faggot’ (99) have allowed the Overlook to turn a profit for the first time in years. And before him there was Horace Derwent, the ‘AC/DC’ owner who brought the hotel back from the edge of ruin in 1949, the same Horace Derwent whose ghost continually reappears, trailed by his uxorial lover Roger (who is ‘only DC’ [347]). In a contemporary world where ‘hommasexshuls’ are causing riots – ‘They get frustrated an have to cut loose. Comin out of the closet, they call it’, we hear from Watson, the summer caretaker (21) – Derwent and his queer pals have the aura of metaphor. Their spectral masquerade is a literal coming out of the woodwork, uncloseting as it were. What greater horror could we imagine, then, but to place the white, middle-class, American family – Jack Torrance, unemployed English professor turned hotel caretaker, his lovely wife Wendy and their six-year-old son Danny – in this queerly framed castle, this Fonthill Abbey of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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