There are some books that just everyone knows. It helps when they make a blockbuster movie based on the book and headline it with one of America's favorite movie stars. It also helps when the author is one of the most successful writers in the world.
But even with all those things going for it, there are still some who haven't read The Green Mile or seen the movie.
I am one of those people, or I was until last week. That's when I finished the book.
For years I could not figure out why it was called The Green Mile. I knew it was set in a prison and Tom Hanks played a prison employee. I also knew that one inmate was on death row and he possessed some sort of magical abilities. That premise sounds promising so when the book came available at the library, I checked it out.
I found out why the book is named The Green Mile. If you're one of the few who still don't know, it's because the tiles on the floor of the prison are green, and those who are condemned to die must pass over those tiles to reach the electric chair. It's a story of redemption, where criminals aren't the only thing that dies...innocence dies, too.
In graduate school we studied a lot of classic writers. They're held in such high esteem, they're almost untouchable. I know that many of today's successful writers are never put in the same category as writers like Hemingway or Faulkner, Steinbeck or Melville, and the list goes on and on.
I haven't read everything Stephen King has ever written, but I've read enough to know he is a good writer. He creates believable characters that you root for, empathize with, love, and hate. And I think King should be included in any discussion of great American writers, past or present.
One thing that helps define a good writer is staying power. Of course, no one knows the future, but I'll bet that in one-hundred years people will still be reading these books and they'll be rooting for, emphasizing with, loving, and hating Paul Edgecomb, John Coffey, and all the others.
Yes, this is a fantastic story--something (almost...) everyone knows.
* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11566.The_Green_Mile?from_search=true&search_version=service