How badly does the patient want to survive?

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"Now I understand.  Several times I've come close to ripping the shirt bandage off the stump and scratching at it, digging my fingers into the soft raw flesh, pulling out the rough stitches, letting the blood gout onto the sand, anything, anything, to be rid of that maddening horrible itch." - Stephen King, Survivor Type

I have always been a fan of Stephen King, and reading this short story pretty much reminded me why I started to read him in the first place-- he's nuts! but in the most beautifully, grotesque kind of way.  He isn't afraid to sink to the darkest places of psychological horror, and he aims to show us the unusual, and unthinkable.  This was my first time reading this story, and I'll admit that I never really get queasy when reading horror fiction...but this one actually got me.  Kudos to you Stephen King.  Job well done!

I really liked the set up of the story, and how it immediately started off with the question "How badly does the patient want to survive?" The format/structure of the story was really interesting to me, as a writer, because of the transgression it made as one continued to read. His entries started out rather formal, with complete sentences, finished thoughts, etc.  and then towards the end, we saw a different man with rash thoughts, incomplete/fragmented sentences, insane raving...etc.   It was really interesting how we could see the breakdown of his mind just through his sentence structure.  I know my favorite King technique is when he does something like this:

100, 99, 98, 87, 86, 95, 94
God God God

It shows how the character is so out of it, that he really is just blurting out his thoughts in no particular order.  It's like we're inside his head, and are just hearing the unedited version of his thoughts. Love it.

I also enjoyed learning his history in the beginning because it was interesting to see how his views, actions, etc. changed as he spent more time on the island.  I mean there was such an emphasis on his hands, and important they were and the need the protect, and then at the end for him to just cut them and eat them up as ladyfingers... wow.  Talk about being desperate and having that will to survive.

Another thing that stood out to be, was how inhuman he came.  Now when I started reading this story, I immediately wasn't found of the character.  He seemed very cocky, conceited and heartless, and frankly we really got to see this when he was stalking the seagulls.  I know at one point, when he caught one in an attempt, he said "If I catch another one tomorrow, I'll torture it.  I let this one off too easily.  Even as I write, I am able to glance down at this severed head on the sand.  It's black eyes, even with the death glaze on them, seem to be mocking me.  Do gulls have brains in any quantity?  Are the edible?"  I mean right there we  see that he wants to torture something for his own pleasure to act out on his frustration.  I think later in the story he even mentions something along the lines of clawing out its eyes?  Wow.  Serial Killer in the making if you ask me.  Thank god he'll probably never get off that island.

I liked that he broke a lot of his own rules in the story: he ate his fingers, mutilated/ate his own body, and started using heroin.  It shows how fragile ones psychosis really is, and frankly that's terrifying.   I could never imagine being in a position that that, and having to/doing what this man did to himself.  It's almost inconceivable to me. I mean in SAW when I saw the doctor cut off his ankle, I def. shuddered, but to personally cut it off AND eat it... wow.  Jigsaw doesn't seem quite as badass anymore; he has nothing on King.

One more note on his eating habits.  I really thought the imagery of him anticipating his 'operations' was GREAT. I liked that he kept comparing his flesh to "cold roast beef" and really applying the senses when he said he drooled as he was amputating parts of his body.  The fact that he is salivating over his own flesh and blood is so sick, and so disgusting that it is one of the creepiest gross out factor I've read.  Wonderful! I loved it!

Bravo Stephen King.  You've won my respect yet again!


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