The Green Mile – Stephen King

Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not. Time takes it all, time bears it away. And in the end, there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.

I have just finished reading the 1996 edition of “The Green Mile” by Stephen King and I must say, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I cried so much when the mouse died “Mr. Jingles!”
I am still uttering that shattering cry of despair very similar in sound to the one I made when the parrot died in Hector Malot’s Nobody’s Boy
The Movie
I feel bad to say, but I’ve seen the movie before I read the books and the interpretation of John Coffey by (the now deceased) Michael Clarke Duncan – made such a big impact on me that I decided to buy the whole mini-series of books when I had the cash. It seems I’m not the only one that loved the movie based on the high rating it got on IMDB:

The Green Mile (1999) on IMDb 8.5 /10

The lead actors are great. Tom Hanks plays Edgecombe as a decent, humane man, who does not relish being an executioner of men, but has a duty to his job. Duncan does well in his part of a child-like man, bewildered by his dire circumstances. Doug Hutchinson (better known as the monster Toombs from a couple of famous “X-Files” episodes) is good as a sadistic guard. Bonnie Hunt, known for comedic roles, is solid as Edgecombe’s supportive wife. Many of the actors shine in smaller roles as well.
There are a couple of scenes of implied sex between Edgecombe and his wife. Several characters use foul language and racial slurs. The violence level is above average. Electric chair executions are shown; one in particular is very graphic. Otherwise, this movie is nicely put together and a powerful story. This is recommended strictly for adults.
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The books

Publishing this novel in 1996 as a serial novel, with the first edition actually coming out as one of six small paperbacks that were eventually made into one novel.
The Two Dead Girls March 28, 1996 92 pp
The Mouse on the Mile April 25, 1996 96 pp
Coffey’s Hands May 30, 1996 96 pp
The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix June 27, 1996 96 pp
Night Journey July 25, 1996 96 pp
Coffey on the Mile August 29, 1996 144 pp
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The story is told in the first-person narrative by Paul Edgecombe, switching between Paul as an old man in the nursing home in 1996 and his time as block supervisor of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row, famously known as”The Green Mile”. The corridor is covered in green linoleum, hence, the “last” or green mile the inmates take to their death. This particular year marks the arrival of John Cofey, a 6’8” black man who has been convicted of raping and murdering two small white girls. During John Cofey’s time on the Mile, he interacts with fellow prisoners Edward “Del” Delacroix, a Cajun arsonist, rapist and murderer. Also, there is William Wharton. To himself he was “Billy the Kid” but to the guards he was “Wild Bill”, a wild acting and dangerous multiple murderer. Wild Bill was determined to make as much trouble as he could before his execution. There are other prisoners on the “Mile” such as Arlen Bitterbuck, a Native American convicted of killing a man over a pair of boots.
It tells the tale of the prisoners and guards on death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Killers such as ‘Billy the Kid’ Wharton and the Cajun Eduard Delacroix. With good men to run the ‘Mile’ such as Paul Edgecombe and Brutus Howell. But even guards can be bad, as is the case with Percy Wetmore.
But the most important and amazing character is the new inmate on the ‘Mile’, John Coffey. Here is a black mountain of a man who stands accused of murdering two little white girls, two sisters.
But Paul soon starts to wonder about this strange man, how can it be that someone capable of such a horrific crime, can be scared of the dark? King has brought to life a truly outstanding character in Coffey who might just not be who they think he is.
The other prisoners are brilliantly portrayed too. Eduard Delacroix who has trouble understanding English, (unless it’s to his benefit of course!), and his little pet mouse he refers to as Mister Jingles. And a fantastic character, Billy the Kid, who is bad to the bone. He does some remarkably funny things in this story that had me laughing out loud.
This is a story like no other I have ever read. It has everything and more you could possibly hope for from the pen of King.

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