East Bay Book Club Message Board › Meeting Recap: October 2012 Organizer's Pick Discussion (The Exorcist by Wil
Union City, CA
The Exorcist is the first horror novel that the East Bay Book Club has discussed. I would've picked a Stephen King novel, but I didn't want to discuss a big-name author. At the same time, I wanted to pick a title that people would recognize. Looking at the most well-known horror films, I decided on The Exorcist.
In my research on the author, I came across a few interesting facts, namely two. One, the novel is based on an actual exorcism that was attempted in the mid-20th century, involving a boy with the pseudonym Roland Doe. According to accounts, the boy exhibited behavior very much like Regan McNeil in the novel, and it took multiple attempts of exorcism before the boy became normal again. Investigative journalists years later would doubt this story, some saying that there are alternative explanations for the boy's behavior, like various psychiatric disorders.
The other interesting fact: the author of The Exorcist claimed that he never intended to make the novel as frightening as it was. Believe it or not, he wanted the novel to be about faith, about what happens when a doubt-ridden priest is tested with a case of demonic possession.
Overall, the opinions of the book ranged from a dislike to a modest like. Some criticisms included the disgusting graphic details and minimally developed characters. Speaking of the former, the crucifix scene in the novel no doubt stood out, prompting one person at the meeting to say, "Is that even LEGAL?" (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you haven't read the book.) One interesting comment: The Exorcist, a novel that should be considered fantasy and not to be taken seriously, may have done damage to Western society by appealing to segments of the human people who strongly believe that demonic forces exist.
A few positive points about the book, according to the members present:
- The element of mystery
- The research that went into the novel
- How scary it can get
- An easy "beach read"
If my summary of the discussion seems light, it's because it really was light. That's not to say the discussion wasn't fun. It was. As I often like to say to people, I don't care if you don't like the book. I only hope that you anjoy the discussion of the book. Thankfully, that was the case here.
And now, onto the next book: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. :-)