Elevation doesn’t seem like a Stephen King novel on first sight. It is thin small in stature and seemingly lightweight. Yet in its deceptive prose I think it is one of the best things King has written in many years.
So what elevates Elevation? For one thing, King is working in an area he loves best. Small-town America (Castle Rock), where neighb ours know neighbors and fun runs involved the whole community and the town’s best locations.
In Castle Rock there is one Scott Carey who is losing weight, lots of weight. Very quickly. But Carey’s body shows no sign of change. His clothes still fit, his middle-aged belly still protrudes, his muscles, designed to bear his overweight form, propel his descending kilos with increasing ease. But what’s really weird is that Scott weighs the same clothed as unclothed, with his pockets empty or filled with change. Anyone he touches is also thereby rendered weightless. It’s like (as one character hypothesises) an anti-gravitational force field has surrounded him in a tender embrace.
In Elevation, Carey’s loss of kilos does not slow him down anywhere except his bathroom scales. Divorced but content, his work as a website designer is on the up and up, and physically and mentally he has not felt better in years.
The only blot on the horizon are his neighbours, Missy and Deirdre, married lesbians who run a local restaurant called Holy Frijole. When they aren’t working or (according to local bigots) throwing their unholy matrimony in people’s faces, they jog together with their dogs, who in turn do their doggy business on Scott’s front lawn. All attempts at complaint are met with disdain by Deirdre, who regards Scott as the sort of homophobe that seems to fill Castle Rock.
I’m not sure why, but Scott decided to befriend Deirdre. it doesn’t work in the ratrurant when he faces up some difficult customers, but he finally overwhelms her defensiveness at the end of Castle Rock’s Thanksgiving runathon.
Scott bets Deirdre he can beat her at a canter, which at least makes Deirdre, a former world-class runner no less, smile.
Little does she suspect that Scott now weighs less than her shoe laces and, he keeps up with her until the end, when a freak thunder storm throws them both together. A photograph in the local paper of Deirdre, Missy and Scott in amiable embrace rehabilitates everyone involved, and the Holy Frijole thrives.
The sad thing is that Scott’s impersonation of a deflating balloon is no joke. When he isn’t hanging out at the Holy Frijole or skipping up and down stairs, he is calculating the exact moment he will hit zero.
How will he die? Is he set for take-off? Death it seems is inevitable.
At a final dinner with his newly cherishedfriends, Scott says goodbye, insisting he faces the end with only Deidre by his side. When his long-time mate Dr Ellis asks how he feels, Scott says: “Elevated.”
In this end its a strange novel. As Scott slips away heaven bound. No longer held by gravity. he seems happy, enobled, free. Somehow his death is an uplifting experience. I wasn’t expecting that. There is no explanation as to his condition. No alien, no transformation just a peaceful float ever upwards. As Scott says in his final words “Elevated.’