First edition cover
|Publication date||April 5, 1974|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Carrie is an American epistolary horror novel and author Stephen King's first published novel, released on April 5, 1974, with an approximate first print-run of 30,000 copies. It revolves around the eponymous Carrie, a shy high-school girl, who uses her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on those who tease her. King has commented that he finds the work to be "raw" and "with a surprising power to hurt and horrify." It is one of the most frequently banned books in United States schools. Much of the book is written in an epistolary structure, through newspaper clippings, magazine articles, letters, and excerpts from books.
Several adaptations of Carrie have been released, including a 1976 feature film, a 1988 Broadway musical, a 1999 feature film sequel, a 2002 television movie and a new theatrical adaptation of the novel set to be released in 2013.
The book is dedicated to King's wife Tabitha: "This is for Tabby, who got me into it – and then bailed me out of it."
King's 1979 novel The Dead Zone mentions the book in connection with a fire at another high school prom.
Publication history 
Carrie was actually King's fourth novel but the first to be published. It was written while he was living in a trailer, on a portable typewriter (on which he also wrote Misery) that belonged to his wife Tabitha. It began as a short story intended for Cavalier magazine, but King tossed the first three pages of his work in the garbage. Of King's published short stories at the time, he recalled,
Some woman said, 'You write all those macho things, but you can't write about women.' I said, 'I'm not scared of women. I could write about them if I wanted to.' So I got an idea for a story about this incident in a girls' shower room, and the girl would be telekinetic. The other girls would pelt her with sanitary napkins when she got her period. The period would release the right hormones and she would rain down destruction on them… I did the shower scene, but I hated it and threw it away.
His wife fished the pages out of the garbage and encouraged him to finish the story; he followed her advice and expanded it into a novel. King said, "I persisted because I was dry and had no better ideas… my considered opinion was that I had written the world's all-time loser." Carrie is based on a composite of two girls Stephen King went to school with.
She was a very peculiar girl who came from a very peculiar family. Her mother wasn't a religious nut like the mother in Carrie; she was a game nut, a sweepstakes nut who subscribed to magazines for people who entered contests … the girl had one change of clothes for the entire school year, and all the other kids made fun of her. I have a very clear memory of the day she came to school with a new outfit she'd bought herself. She was a plain-looking country girl, but she'd changed the black skirt and white blouse – which was all anybody had ever seen her in – for a bright-colored checkered blouse with puffed sleeves and a skirt that was fashionable at the time. And everybody made worse fun of her because nobody wanted to see her change the mold.
King says he wondered what it would have been like to have been raised by such a mother, and based the story itself on a reversal of the Cinderella fairy tale. He also told biographer George Beahm that the girl later "married a man who was as odd as her, had kids, and eventually killed herself."
Carrie’s telekinesis resulted from King’s earlier reading about this topic. At the time of publication, King was working as a high school English teacher at Hampden Academy and barely making ends meet. To cut down on expenses, King had the phone company remove the telephone from his house. As a result, when King received word that the book was chosen for publication, his phone was out of service. Doubleday editor William Thompson (who would eventually become King's close friend), sent a telegram to King's house which read: "Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2,500 Advance Against Royalties. Congrats, Kid - The Future Lies Ahead, Bill." It has been presumed that King drew inspiration from his time as a teacher. New American Library bought the paperback rights for $400,000, which, according to King's contract with Doubleday, was split between them. King eventually quit the teaching job after receiving the publishing payment. The hardback sold a mere 13,000 copies; the paperback, released a year later, sold over 1 million copies in its first year. In King's book, On Writing, he mentions that he wrote all of Carrie in only about two weeks.
King recalls, "Carrie was written after Rosemary's Baby, but before The Exorcist, which really opened up the field. I didn't expect much of Carrie. I thought, 'Who'd want to read a book about a poor little girl with menstrual problems?' I couldn't believe I was writing it." In a talk at the University of Maine at Orono, King said of Carrie, "I'm not saying that Carrie is shit, and I'm not repudiating it. She made me a star, but it was a young book by a young writer. In retrospect, it reminds me of a cookie baked by a first grader — tasty enough, but kind of lumpy and burned on the bottom." The book went on to sell four million copies.
Plot summary 
Set in the then-future year of 1979, Carrie uses false documents to frame the story of one of the worst disasters in American history: the destruction of the town of Chamberlain, Maine by high school student Carietta "Carrie" White.
Lead up 
('Part 1 - Blood Sport')
Ever since grade school, Carrie White has been the subject of abuse both by her unstable Christian fundamentalist mother, Margaret White, and her classmates at Thomas Ewen Consolidated High School. At the beginning of the novel, Carrie has her first period while showering after gym class. Carrie is terrified, having no concept of menstruation, and believes that she is bleeding to death. Instead of sympathizing with the frightened Carrie, her classmates throw tampons and sanitary napkins at her. As Carrie is aided by her gym teacher, Rita Desjardin, a light bulb in the shower explodes. When Margaret finds out about the incident, she beats Carrie, claiming that this is God's way of punishing her, and locks her in the closet for hours to pray for "forgiveness."
The next day, Miss Desjardin orders the girls who taunted Carrie to serve a week's detention in the gym. One of the girls and lead bully, Chris Hargensen, refuses to attend and is suspended for three days, as well as banned from Ewen High's prom. However, another girl, Sue Snell, feels remorse for her prior actions and offers to become Carrie's friend. Meanwhile, Carrie gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and learns how to keep them under control. With prom fast approaching, Sue convinces her handsome boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to ask Carrie to prom, as a way for her to finally fit in. Margaret forbids her from attending, but Carrie uses her powers to help stand up for herself.
Smarting from being banned from the prom, Chris and her boyfriend, Billy Nolan, hatch a plan to humiliate Carrie in front of the entire school. Chris has Billy fill two buckets with pig blood, and rigs them over the stage on a rafter hidden out of sight. On prom night, Carrie is tormented by Margaret, begging for her not to leave the house. Margaret begins hurting herself, trying to convince Carrie to stay home and pray with her, but Carrie leaves anyway and arrives with Tommy. She is nervous at first, but everyone begins treating her equally. Soon, Carrie begins enjoying herself and Tommy becomes attracted to her. Meanwhile, Sue is at home, continually worrying about what's happening at the prom. At the same time, she wonders if she is pregnant by Tommy.
The catastrophe 
('Part 2 - Prom Night')
Carrie and Tommy are elected prom king and queen after Chris' friend, Tina Blake, rigs the prom election. Once on stage, Carrie and Tommy are drenched with the pig blood by Chris; one of the buckets falls on Tommy's head, mortally wounding him. Carrie again becomes the subject of her classmates' ridicule, and decides to use her power to exact revenge upon Ewen High. She locks the gym's doors and turns on the sprinkler system, electrocuting two students; she then sets fire to the gym, leaving everyone inside to die. Carrie then goes on a rampage through Chamberlain, blowing up gas stations and setting neighborhoods ablaze. Sue rushes to Ewen High and watches it explode, which destroys a portion of the town.
Carrie returns home and confronts a crazed Margaret, who claims she conceived Carrie due to marital rape. When Margaret stabs Carrie, she kills her mother by stopping her heart. Mortally wounded, Carrie makes her way to the local roadhouse where her mother was raped and she was conceived. Chris and Billy, who happen to be making love inside, receive word from Billy's friend of what has happened to Chamberlain; Billy plans on leaving town with Chris. They exit the roadhouse just as Carrie arrives, and attempt to run her down with Billy's car. However, Carrie telekinetically sends the car crashing into the roadhouse, killing Chris and Billy. Carrie then collapses in the parking lot from blood loss.
Sue arrives on the scene and finds Carrie in the parking lot. Carrie talks telepathically with Sue and blames her for the prank, but after scanning Sue's brain, she finds out that Sue was not involved and that she had set her up with Tommy to apologize for the gym shower incident. Carrie does not forgive Sue, yet believes her. She then cries out for her mother and dies. Terror-stricken, Sue runs away from the roadhouse and, after distancing herself from it, collapses and has her period, meaning that she miscarried if pregnant.
('Part 3 - Wreckage')
Four months later, Chamberlain has become a virtual ghost town. The "Black Prom" incident, in which 440 people were killed, is considered a national tragedy worse than the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After interviewing the survivors of the prom, science begins to take telekinesis seriously; many schools across the country start to crack down more on bullying. Miss Desjardin, who escaped from the prom, is consumed with guilt over not reaching out to Carrie sooner and resigns her teaching position. In 1986, Sue writes a memoir of her experience, which warns the reader not to forget about the events that took place in Chamberlain, or else something like it may happen again.
The book closes with a letter written by a woman in Tennessee, whose daughter is developing telekinetic powers.
- The first adaption of Carrie was a feature film of the same name, released in 1976. Screenwritten by Lawrence D. Cohen and directed by Brian De Palma, the film starred Sissy Spacek as Carrie, along with Piper Laurie as Margaret, Amy Irving as Sue, Nancy Allen as Chris, John Travolta as Billy, Betty Buckley as Miss Collins (changed from Miss Desjardin), and William Katt as Tommy. It is regarded as a watershed film of the horror genre and one of the best film adaptations of a Stephen King work. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received Academy Award nominations for their performances.
- A sequel to the movie titled The Rage: Carrie 2 was released in 1999, based on the premise was that Carrie's father had numerous affairs and had another daughter with telekinetic powers. Amy Irving reprised her role as Sue Snell, the only survivor of the prom and now a school counselor. The film was both a commercial and critical failure.
- In 2002, a made-for-television movie of the same name was released, starring Angela Bettis, Emilie de Ravin and Patricia Clarkson. However, in this version, Carrie survives the end of the story, which was supposed to have led to a television series.
- Playwright Erik Jackson acquired King's consent to stage a non-musical spoof, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 with female impersonator Keith Levy (also known as Sherry Vine) in the lead role.
- In 2011, MGM and Screen Gems gained rights to make a new film version written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Kimberly Peirce, known for her work on Boys Don't Cry. The film is said to be "less a remake of the De Palma film and more a re-adaptation of the original text". It was announced on March 28, 2012, actress Chloë Grace Moretz had landed the title role. The film is set to be released October 18, 2013. Alongside Moretz, Julianne Moore will star as Carrie's mother Margaret White, and Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell. Portia Doubleday plays the role of Chris Hargensen, Alex Russell plays the role of Billy Nolan, and newcomer actor Ansel Elgort plays the role of Tommy Ross.
- Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work, George W. Beahm, pg. 29
- "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000". www.ala.org. American Library Association. Archived from the original on 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-22.(dead link)
- "I had written three other novels before Carrie…" Stephen King, (2000) On Writing. Scribner Books. p. 77
- "I did three single-spaced pages of a first draft, then crumpled them up in disgust and threw them away." King, Stephen. (2000) On Writing. Scribner Books. p. 76
- "Stephen King: 'I Like to go for the Jugular'" Grant, Charles L. Twilight Zone Magazine vol 1 no 1 April 1981
- Introduction to "Carrie" (Collector's Edition) King, Tabitha Plume 1991
- King, Stephen (February 1980). "On Becoming a Brand Name". Adelina Magazine: 44
- Beahm, George (1998-09-01). Stephen King From A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Pub. ISBN 0-8362-6914-4.
- "The Stephen King Companion" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel press 1989 pp. 171–173
- "From Textbook to Checkbook" Wells, Robert W. Milwaukee Journal September 15, 1980
- "DVD Review: Carrie". blogcritics.org. Blogcritics Magazine. 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- Wood, Rocky. "Eric Jackson Interview". horrorking.com. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- "Carrie Remake Moving Forward". comingsoon.net. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
- Fleming, Mike (March 27, 2012). "MGM Formally Offers Lead Remake Of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ To Chloe Moretz". Deadline.com. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
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- Official website for Carrie the Musical
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