Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon September 3, 2012 - 3:07pm

'The Exorcist' by William Peter Blatty

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: When originally published in 1971, The Exorcist became not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels ever written. (When the author adapted his book to the screen two years later, it then became one of the most terrifying movies ever made.) The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It's up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate. Purposefully raw and profane, this novel still has the extraordinary ability to literally shock us into forgetting that it is "just a story." The Exorcist remains a truly unforgettable reading experience. Blatty published a sequel, Legion, in 1983.

About the Author: William Peter Blatty is a writer and filmmaker. The Exorcist, written in 1971, is his magnum opus; he also penned the subsequent screenplay, for which he won an Academy Award.

I guess as far as descriptions go, we don't need much. Everybody knows the story. I'm looking forward to this one though. People have said that they've read this book and will never read it again. It terrified them! And that's the kind of book we should have for a Halloweeen discussion.

Buy It Here!

Discussion has officially started!

So, get to reading!

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 3, 2012 - 6:00pm

Great choice.  I love this book.  I read it in one night (maybe it was two) while working from 10pm-4am in a park (doing the irrigation schedule).  It was the creepiest place to read a book.  

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 6:12pm

YES! I'm in.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons September 4, 2012 - 8:54pm

I read it wheni was 15, only because my Mom was reading it and I saw her and she made it forbidden reading for me. So i got it off her nightstand and read it. Love that Mom always encouraged reading, but didnt' want me to get my hands on this one. I was compelling, but didn't freak me out. I thought of it as fiction. Enjoy the readings.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce September 6, 2012 - 2:56pm

I'm ashamed to say that despite being a horror aficionado, I've never read this... I'm taking this as my prompt to do so!

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts September 8, 2012 - 6:33am

I agree, Jess! :)

Right now it's only $4.95 on Audible, so I just downloaded it. Can't wait to start!

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner September 12, 2012 - 11:52pm

Hah! Funnily enough I've never read this either - great choice, Pete!

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks September 17, 2012 - 7:47pm

This is soooo weird! I just finished reading this today! Didn't even know it was a book club choice. Will chime in here and there.

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner September 20, 2012 - 1:18pm

Now that's a wee bit scary...

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 24, 2012 - 9:49pm

Either by accident, or by my husband being a sly MFer my copy of The Exorcist disappeared shortly after I finished reading it. I mean, I tore the house apart looking for it (was going to loan it to someone), I have to admit it creeped me out pretty badly. Months later it materialized face up on one of our shelves (I assume the cleaning lady found it).

Anyway. I can't WAIT to reread. I had to run up to my mom's for a family emergency, so I'll have aforementioned husband bring it up on the weekend.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon September 25, 2012 - 2:44pm

Yeah, I've gotta admit, I'm pretty excited to start this one.

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner September 30, 2012 - 4:35am

Crap. I left my copy on the train today, only 6 pages in. Never, ever before lost a book on a locomotive. Weird.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like September 30, 2012 - 1:43pm

Only about 7 hrs left until I ruin explain this book for everyone.

;^}>

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 1, 2012 - 9:11am

Does anybody not like this book?

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 1, 2012 - 2:53pm

I'm loving it. I'm about 2/3 in. I'll be finishing it in the next couple days.

And discussion officially starts today. So get at it!

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 2, 2012 - 8:23am

I'm almost done with the audio. William Peter Blatty has an excellent reading voice!

telegraphkiss's picture
telegraphkiss from joplin, mo is reading microbiology notes, unfortunately October 3, 2012 - 9:46am

I'm a huge fan of the religious horror type stuff, and I had not read this until last month!  Honestly, I was a little disappointed it was so short, and it seemed kind of like a cop out to only include aftermath descriptions of key scenes.  I know it can be a great literary element to keep us wondering or using our own imaginations but what I like best about reading material like this is the author's ability to come up with something I could never comprehend about such a subject.

It did not really scare me (unfortunately, I'm still on a trek to find something that will) but some scenes were certainly very disturbing.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 3, 2012 - 10:55am

The book is scariest if you read it assuming there is zero supernatural activity involved.

telegraphkiss's picture
telegraphkiss from joplin, mo is reading microbiology notes, unfortunately October 3, 2012 - 12:29pm

Kind of like case 39?  I maintain that film would have been scary as fuck if they'd never made it so the little kid was actually a demon, and we always just had to wonder...

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 3, 2012 - 2:21pm

Don't know Case 39, so I can't say. And I don't want to go into too much detail because it's early yet. But when you weigh the beliefs and attitudes of the characters as part of a naturalistic reading, their confusion and suspicion point to certain realistic (but nonetheless sinister) possibilities.

telegraphkiss's picture
telegraphkiss from joplin, mo is reading microbiology notes, unfortunately October 3, 2012 - 3:58pm

Oh well then I'm sorry for kind of ruining it.  That was lame of me.  However, maybe I'll try re-reading the exorcist like that tonight.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 3, 2012 - 11:28pm

Yeah, what I enjoyed the most about this book was the internal debate the priest was having (left my book at home to tend to a family emergncy so I am going off memory, forgive me). He wanted to be convinced there wasn't anything supernatural happening--but couldn't justify it all. Now...I don't know why that would be more comforting in the reality of the book...

Ashraf Wahab's picture
Ashraf Wahab October 4, 2012 - 2:17am

What stuck me best was the allegory involved about loss of faith and finally reclamation of the same, not to mention the disturbing opening chapter. Read it when I was about 15 yrs old and I still remember the effect it had on me. Would club it along with Dracula as one of the best modern horror novels .

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 5, 2012 - 5:41am

It's been years since I've seen the movie, so I might not be remembering clearly, but I don't remember the movie centering around Damien's struggle with his faith. I mean, in the book it was a central plot point.

One of my favorite lines from the book that showed this was:

With thoughts such as these, Karras sadly watched blood turning back into wine.

I mean, it's perfect in my opinion of showing his wavering faith.

And it's funny, his disappointment when he thinks he realizes why he wasn't chosen to do the exorcism himself:

As he'd closed his eyes, he'd recalled that exorcists were selected on the basis of "piety" and "high moral qualities"; that a passage in the gospel of Matthew related that Christ, when asked by his disciples the cause of their failure in an effort at exorcism, had answered, "Because of your little faith." The Provincial had known about the problem, as had also Tom Bermingham, the Georgetown president. Had either of them mentioned it to the Bishop?

It's as if, right until the last minute, he's still in denial of what's going on with Regan and he just wants to go through the motions of an exorcism to trick her. Which performing a holy rite to trick somebody is sacrilege in itself.

I found it odd that the demon never really brought up his faith though. Did it? I mean, even if it wasn't a demon and she was just reading his mind (which is what he originally thought with the Latin), she would still know his faith wasn't strong. You would think that that would be a great attack plan for the demon.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 7, 2012 - 11:07am

You can imagine Karras's inadequate attempts to convince himself there's nothing supernatural going on as manifestations of his belief system; he has faith even though he doesn't always believe he should. Or you can imgaine him a skeptic in the wrong field who encounters something he doesn't have the ability to explain. The book as a whole (and in parts) is pretty open to interpretation, which is one of its strengths; the story is constructed in such a way one can not be certain what's going on (even up to the end) and still be carried along by it.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 8, 2012 - 3:22pm

I agree with that.

I think it's strongest if you believe there is a demon and he's trying to convince himself against all facts that there isn't one.

You stated earlier that you thought it was best if you thought that it was all psychological. (that was you, wasn't it?)

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 8, 2012 - 7:06pm

I said "scariest" not "best," meaning only that I see more to fear from people than demons. And I wouldn't say a non-supernatural reading limits the "threat" to psychological mishaps and projections; after all, something caused her to become disturbed.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 8, 2012 - 7:17pm

Ah, sorry for the misunderstanding. ;)

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 8, 2012 - 7:25pm

No sweat. It's a discussion after all.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 9, 2012 - 11:57am

I think I disagree. For me, it was scary when you took into account the circles he was going in. With all the psychological explainations he came up with (most which would be treatable to some extent) he hit a point where he had to admit that we may have come up with psychological explainations for things that are actually supernatural. That means NO treatment, NO cure. Hell on Earth. That's what shook me.

With the book on the shelf, sitting at my computer, I am firm in my beliefs that demon possesion isn't "a thing", but when I had the book open in front of me, I was completely taken in by that possibility.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 9, 2012 - 1:48pm

I don't want to get into a religious argument, so let's try and skirt around the issue a little. But, I think there are plenty of cases that are pretty similar to the fictional account (I mean with out most of the drama that makes this a story obviously). Do you think that those are able to be explained away through psychology? Because, personally, I'm torn on the matter.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 9, 2012 - 2:08pm

People of faith sometimes say things like "Well, if you are already convinced miracles don't happen, you won't see them when they do."

The converse is, "Well, if you are already convinced miracles do happen, you will see them even when they don't." [that might be an inverse. whatever.]

Point being: I think if someone investigates an incident, their worldview will influence (but perhaps not absolutely determine) their account of the events, one way or another.

I'm personally pretty skeptical with an agnostic base, meaning I don't believe we'll ever have access to all knowledge; but, given that, I don't then go on to believe any old thing. I don't rule out certain extreme possibilities, but I don't have any reason to believe them either.

I ride the fence until something knocks me off or I determine it would be correct to do so.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 9, 2012 - 2:41pm

Pete--it's hard to say with the evidence that is parsed out to the public and without any background in psychology/psychiatry. I DO think, though, that there are things about the human mind we aren't even close to understanding. I read some absolutely mind blowing stuff about placebo affect that convinced me our little brains are incredilby powerful (like a study on placebo surgery...it worked..).

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 9, 2012 - 3:46pm

Oh I agree with both of you. That's why I'm torn.

I know it's not fashionable right now, but I'm pretty religious. But I also was originally going to school for psychology. I know what the human mind is capable of. And it never ceases to amaze me.

The contortionist's like positions, the crazy voices, the speaking in different languages, and even knowing things about people you shouldn't - all of that is explainable. But then just because we can explain it away, that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I guess it's a Catch-22.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 9, 2012 - 3:47pm

Maybe that's why I liked this book so much. He took this thing and threw us into a thought process that just clicked with me.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 9, 2012 - 4:15pm

I agree, that's what really hit me about this book, too. 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 10, 2012 - 6:48pm

http://www.ubu.com/sound/occult.html

*listen at your own risk, I guess*

_________________________________

I know it's not fashionable right now, but I'm pretty religious.

Don't know about MI, but I've never seen it out of fashion.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 10, 2012 - 8:30pm

This is the internet J.Y--you can't put a link up without a description and then vaguely warn of it's content... A girl only needs to click on what turned out to be "Church of Fudge" once to learn that lesson.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 11, 2012 - 3:45am

Haha. Yeah, I guess I'm naive. Or I was in a hurry.

The above link is to a site full of modern and postmodern art/music/film and other odds and ends.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 11, 2012 - 5:32am

Those voice recordings (especially the one of the 4 year old) kind of prove my point. We can kind of explain those away, but do we really believe our explanation?

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 19, 2012 - 7:13am

I thought this would be a much more active discussion. Especially with Halloween coming up... I will never understand why some discussions are awesome, and some fizzle.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 19, 2012 - 11:46am

Especially with this book. I admire you for running these, because while I saw this sitting with no new comments, I kept thinking--what's something *I* want to talk about that will also get other people excited? It's not easy!

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 19, 2012 - 12:03pm

I think more people read the book than discuss it. Sometimes it's hard because (at least for me) you have a whole month to read it. I might have read it a few weeks before discussion. It's no longer fresh. Or I just really enjoyed the book, but there's nothing I know of to discuss about it. Or the obvious things get said right away (which is what happened to me with Broken Piano).

I guess it's cool as long as people are reading. :)

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks October 21, 2012 - 8:14am

I'll just chime in and say that the scariest scene in the entire book is Regan screaming the priest's name when he enters the house.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books October 21, 2012 - 8:00pm

I think the ending is terribly underrated, really. It comes through--what it all means--much better than the book, but even in the movie, it was one of those moments where you realize that horror doesn't have to scare you to move you. Although I agree with all the people who think The Exorcist was the scariest movie of it's time, and is definitely (for me) one of the scariest books I've read.

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works January 23, 2013 - 3:34pm

Im halfway thru the book. Figured id stir up this topic/discussion. First thing i have to say is i dont find it scary, just a bit creepy. The set-up to Regans full blown possesion is done extremely well, the scene when the the doctors are called in had some interesting tension.

Its definitely a great book but I dont find it scary. I've not gotten to the end yet but i think, for me, evil is much more disturbing when it cannot be stopped, or when we realize how insignificant we are in the face of it.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 24, 2013 - 6:32am

Frank - are you religous at all?

While most people agree that the book is extremely well written and creepy - I think that, Orthodox Christians and Catholics find it much scarier than non-religious people. Because for them, it may be based on some truth.

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works January 24, 2013 - 10:05am

Pete- I was very confused about religion for a long while, still floating between being agnostic and atheist.

Thats very likely to be true. I have friends that recommended it who thought it was scary, they arent particularly religous.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon January 25, 2013 - 8:25am

Cool. Just wondering. I don't remember us talking much about religion and our beliefs when this discussion was going strong a few months back. Which is strange. You would think there would be more religious talk concerning a book that centered on demon possession...

I do think it's important to acknowledge the possible mental disorder aspect too though.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. January 25, 2013 - 9:43am

Religion doesn't usually make me puke up pea soup, but I can see how that might be a symptom of being overly religious.

 

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest January 25, 2013 - 10:09am

Not religious, but this book scared the shit out of me. The only book I've ever read to do that. The book about the true story was equally as scary. http://www.amazon.com/Possessed-True-Story-Exorcism-ebook/dp/B002P3LAS6/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1