The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel

The Green Mile: The Complete Serial Novel

4.7 642
by Stephen King

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The #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film of the same name starring Tom Hanks, the “literary event” (Entertainment Weekly) of The Green Mile is now available in its entirety.

When The Green Mile first appeared, serialized as one volume per month, Stephen King’s

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The #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film of the same name starring Tom Hanks, the “literary event” (Entertainment Weekly) of The Green Mile is now available in its entirety.

When The Green Mile first appeared, serialized as one volume per month, Stephen King’s The Green Mile was an unprecedented publishing triumph: all six volumes ended up on the New York Times bestseller list—simultaneously—and delighted millions of fans the world over.

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with “Old Sparky,” Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he’s never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs...and yours.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Entertainment Weekly A literary event.

Boston Globe King surpasses our expectations, leaves us spellbound and hungry for the next twist of plot.

Entertainment Weekly [The Green Mile] has everybody talking....[King's] best fiction in years....A prison novel that's as haunting and touching as it is just plain haunted.

USA Today One of King's most immediately engaging page-turners.

The New York Times Mr. King now dominates like Carrie at the prom.

Entertainment Weekly
A literary event.
Boston Globe
King surpasses our expectations, leaves us spellbound and hungry for the next twist of plot.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Green Mile Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.82(w) x 4.26(h) x 1.01(d)
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Chapter One

This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain. And the electric chair was there, too, of course.

The inmates made jokes about the chair the way people always make jokes about things that frighten them but can't be gotten away from. They called it Old Sparky, or the Big Juicy. They made cracks about the Power bill, and how Warden Moores would cook his Thanksgiving dinner that fall, with his wife, Melinda, too sick to cook.

But for the ones who actually had to sit down in that chair, the humor went out of the situation in a hurry I presided over seventy-eight executions during my time at Cold Mountain (that's one figure I've never been confused about; I'll remember it on my deathbed), and I think that, for most of those men, the truth of what was happening to them finally hit all the way home when their ankles were being damped to the stout oak of "Old Sparky's" legs. The realization came then (you would see it rising in their eyes, a kind of cold dismay) that their, own legs had finished their careers. The blood still ran in them, the muscles were still strong, but they were finished, all the same; they were never going to walk another country mile or dance with a girl at a barn-raising. Old Sparky's clients came to a knowledge of their deaths from the ankles up. There was a black silk bag that went over their heads after they had finished their rambling and mostly disjointed last remarks. It was supposed to be for them, but I always thought it was really for us, to keep us from seeing the awful tide of dismay in their eyes as they realized they were going to die with their knees bent.

There was no death row at Cold Mountain, only E Block, set apart from the other four and about a quarter their size, brick instead of wood, with a horrible bare metal roof that glared in the summer sun like a delirious eyeball. Six cells inside, three on each side of a wide center aisle, each almost twice as big as the cells in the other four blocks. Singles, too. Great accommodations for a prison (especially in the thirties), but the inmates would have traded for cells in any of the other four. Believe me, they would have traded.

There was never a time during my years as block superintendent when all six cells were occupied at one time -- thank God for small favors. Four was the most, mixed black and white (at Cold Mountain, there was no segregation among the walking dead), and that was a little piece of hell. One was a woman, Beverly McCall. She was black as the ace of spades and as beautiful as the sin you never had nerve enough to commit. She put up with six years of her husband beating her, but wouldn't put up with his creeping around for a single day. On the evening after she found out he was cheating, she stood waiting for the unfortunate Lester McCall, known to his pals (and, presumably, to his extremely short-term mistress) as Cutter, at the top of the stairs leading to the apartment over his barber shop. She waited until he got his overcoat half off, then dropped his cheating guts onto his tu-tone shoes. Used one of Cutter's own razors to do it. Two nights before she was due to sit in Old Sparky, she called me to her cell and said she had been visited by her African spirit-father in a dream. He told her to discard her slave-name and to die under her free name, Matuomi. That was her request, that her deathwarrant should be read under the name of Beverly Matuomi. I guess her spirit-father didn't give her any first name, or one she could make out, anyhow. I said yes, okay, fine. One thing those years serving as the bull-goose screw taught me was never to refuse the condemned unless I absolutely had to. In the case of Beverly Matuomi, it made no difference, anyway. The governor called the next day around three in the afternoon, commuting her sentence to life in the Grassy Valley Penal Facility for Women -- all penal and no penis, we used to say back then. I was glad to see Bev's round ass going left instead of right when she got to the duty desk, let me tell you.

Thirty-five years or so later -- had to be at least thirty-five -- I saw that name on the obituary page of the paper, under a picture of a skinny-faced black lady with a cloud of white hair and glasses with rhinestones at the comers. It was Beverly. She'd spent the last ten years of her life a free woman, the obituary said, and had rescued the small-town library of Raines Falls pretty much single-handed. She had also taught Sunday school and had been much loved in that little backwater. LIBRARIAN DIES OF HEART FAILURE, the headline said, and below that, in smaller type, almost as an afterthought: Served Over Two Decades in Prison for Murder. Only the eyes, wide and blazing behind the glasses with the rhinestones at the comers, were the same. They were the eyes of a woman who even at seventy-whatever would not hesitate to pluck a safety razor from its blue jar of disinfectant, if the urge seemed pressing. You know murderers, even if they finish up as old lady librarians in dozey little towns. At least you do if you've spent as much time minding murderers as I did. There was only one time I ever had a question about the nature of my job. That, I reckon, is why I'm writing this.

The wide corridor up the center of E Block was floored with linoleum the color of tired old limes, and so what was called the Last Mile at other prisons was called the Green Mile at Cold Mountain. It ran, I guess, sixty long paces from south to north, bottom to top. At the bottom was the restraint room. At the top end was a T-junction. A left turn meant life -- if you called what went on in the sunbaked exercise yard life, and many did; many lived it for years, with no apparent ill effects. Thieves and arsonists and sex criminals, all talking their talk and walking their walk and making their little deals.

A right turn, though -- that was different. First you went into my office (where the carpet was also green, a thing I kept meaning to change and not getting around to), and crossed in front of my desk, which was flanked by the American flag on the left and the state flag on the right. On the far side were two doors. One led into the small W.C. that I and the E Block guards (sometimes even Warden Moores) used; the other opened on a kind of storage shed. This was where you ended up when you walked the Green Mile.

It was a small door -- I had to duck my head when I went through, and John Coffey actually had to sit and scoot. You came out on a little landing, then went down three cement steps to a board floor. It was a miserable room without heat and with a metal roof, just like the one on the block to which it was an adjunct. It was cold enough in there to see your breath during the winter, and stifling in the summer. At the execution of Elmer Manfred -- in July or August of '30, that one was, I believe -- we had nine witnesses pass out.

On the left side of the storage shed -- again -- there was life. Tools (all locked down in frames crisscrossed with chains, as if they were carbine rifles instead of spades and pickaxes), dry goods, sacks of seeds for spring planting in the prison gardens, boxes of toilet paper, pallets cross-loaded with blanks for the prison plate-shop...even bags of lime for marking out the baseball diamond and the football gridiron -- the cons played in what was known as The Pasture, and fall afternoons were greatly looked forward to at Cold Mountain.

On the right -- once again -- death. Old Sparky his ownself, sitting up on a plank platform at the southeast comer of the storeroom, stout oak legs, broad oak arms that had absorbed the terrorized sweat of scores of men in the last few minutes of their lives, and the metal cap, usually hung jauntily on the back of the chair, like some robot kid's beanie in a Buck Rogers comic-strip. A cord ran from it and through a gasket-circled hole in the cinderblock wall behind the chair. Off to one side was a galvanized tin bucket. If you looked inside it, you would see a circle of sponge, cut just right to fit the metal cap. Before executions, it was soaked in brine to better conduct the charge of direct-current electricity that ran through the wire, through the sponge, and into the condemned man's brain.

Copyright © 1996 by Stephen King

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What People are saying about this

Charles de Lint
If you missed this serial -- set on death row during the 1930s -- when it first appeared last year, now's your chance to read all six parts in one omnibus volume. It's easily one of King's best books to date, a literate, powerful, and moving story, rich in characterization and details of the time, and without the excesses that have spoiled some of his other books. The omnibus also contains a new introduction by King. Easily one of the best books of 1996.

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Green Mile 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 643 reviews.
BAMBAM808 More than 1 year ago
Stephen King, the famous artist of spook tales and horror books probably created his best novel yet! The Green Mile, an interesting story like no other, talks about Paul Edgecomb and his life at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, it dates long back to the times of racism and Death Row. He has worked there all his life, but never before had been in a situation in where he has to choose between his job, the law, and possibly his life and doing whats right. This is definitely a book for you if you like a suspenseful book! Don't mind the number of pages! I definitely recommend this book for all you people who like a book about moral, justice, segregation, and a little twist at the end! Stephen King uses his fantastic, horrific ideas and blends it with a realistic conflict that keeps you on your toes. I couldn't put the book down! During my free time, I read page after page after page! Honestly, I was never a reader to begin with! But, this book changed my perspective of reading! After reading this novel I craved for more of Stephen King's fantastic books. I now am convinced that King is one of the best authors, his way of style, his lessons, and his use of imagery (especially the execution of Delacroix, or the scene with Melinda Moores), Stephen King truly brings his art to life! I believe everyone should take some time out of their busy life to read this book. I give Stephen King a hand for another successful novel.
seaniniowa More than 1 year ago
After watching the movie several times, I finally got around to reading the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. While not tracking entirely with the movie, it tells the exact same story and then some. If you are a fan of the movie, you need to read the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, The Green Mile by Stephen King, shocked me. As a ninth grader who does not get around to recreational reading, I was absolutely surprised how engaging this book was. I have never read a book that grabbed my attention like this one has. The first thing that I noticed about the book was the the author's name, Stephen King, which I have seen all over television commercials that are advertising a new T.V series or something. So I thought I would give this book a try. I am so happy that I did, Stephen King's ability to put such emotion in a book is outstanding. The description is so precise. He easily paints every scene that he describes in my head. You might be thinking that you probably won't like it, because you are not a reader. Well I'm like that, someone who finds it almost impossible to read a book that is uninteresting. But, this book is completely worth all the long hours you put in. I was completely drawn to this book. It provided me with a completely new look upon reading books, I have never actually wanted to keep on reading like this before. I strongly urge people to pick up a copy of this book. I loved the description used in every page. Stephen King can take such a minor detail and dilate it into something much more. Beside the amazing emotion and description, I loved the character John Coffey. He is a tall, broad African American who seems very mysterious in the beginning of the book. However, I like to compare him to a modernized, human form of God. He takes in all the bad of the world and only tries to release good and peace. He must have looked quite intimidating at first because he towers over the guards and is so thick. However, John does not try to cause any trouble, he remains calm. John Coffey was a great contribution to why I adore this book. Along with the characters, emotion, and description; I liked the perspective that Stephen King used. The way that the book is written in one of the guard's perspective is momentous. If it was written in John's perspective, then it wouldn't give the book as much suspense. The guard's perspective gave the ability to give a great description on what John looks like. Overall, this book is worth the time that you put in to read it. You can take many values that the book touches upon. I strongly urge you to take the time to find this book and let your mind get lost in the pure beauty of the book.
Kerri Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the best book i ever red it will put a smile on your face tears on the page and laghter in the air. I have never loved a book so much, i recomend this book to anyone who is intrested in reading such an magnifisent book. I would not let kids read it if the are not yet mature enough to handle such graphic details.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was by far kings best work! His use of characters and interaction was mezmorizing, the way he had Del, and John, and Paul, it made you feel like you were on the mile jsut off to the side. Wow If I could give it more stars I would!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
my favorite book series of all, ive read the whole series like four or five times
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a sweet, loving book. I loved the movie, but the book is better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books king has produced even though it is more spiritual than scarey no one makes better characters It is easy to bellieve
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this is definitly one of the best books ever written. From beginning to end, it makes perfect sense and no one could have written a better ending or made it so touching and realistic. And coming from a teenager- that is saying a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Answered so many questions left over from the movie. The print was not great but the story was
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To start off, I must say that the story was very powerful and exceptional! However, what killed the book for me was how crude King was. Now I know that it was set in a prison setting and crudeness is a given, but it was crude throughout the whole book when it wasn't necessary. Overall it was an amazing.
wdawg More than 1 year ago
do not buy on nook the cover is in english but the book is written in spanish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All moviewatchers will not get the full story that is in this book. This book will be better than anything that a movie could ever reproduce. The description that he puts into each scene is amazing, and he can transition the scenes so well that it doesn't even feel like the end of a chapter, but the beginning of another. The way he paints each character makes them seem as if they are real people and who you will care about. Some characters you will come to hate, and some you will feel terrible for. If you've saw the movie and liked it, you need to read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the most, if not the most emotionally moving books i have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is in my top 5 favorite Stephen King novels!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it. One of the few book made to movies that the movie was just as good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of King's best. Even better than the movie and that's saying something. If you think he only writes horror, think again! A wonderful book.
BookLoverLNB More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book by Stephen King!
uberreader More than 1 year ago
Seven words- extremely moving and one of King's best.
Door96 More than 1 year ago
This was the first Stephen King novel that I read. I read it when I was in sixth grade, and it got me to start reading more often. I purchased the original 6 part serial novel set at a book sale for 6 dollars, and it was so worth it! All in all its a very good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would give it 10 stars if I could! I actually read this book when it was initially released, and the wait between books almost killed me! I don't think he could have pulled off a serial with any other novel he has done. This is a true accomplishment on his part, and a gift to those of us who've read it. A heart-wrenching tale of 'good prevails all' with a dash of the enlightening supernatural -- Of course, it wouldn't be classic King without a bit of supernatural! Overall, being an avid reader of all genres, this is by far one of the best works I've ever read. The light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel theme is a pleasant hiatus from the dreary unknown of his usual writings. The book is a true inspiration that proves, once again, his undying talent for storytelling.
Anonymous 14 hours ago
Very good to read.. shows Stephen King is more than just a horror writer
Anonymous 4 months ago
Al principio pense que no me iva a gustar , peri me movio sentimientos en mi cirazon Muy humano enaltece y envikece al hombre, nos muestra que equivicadis pidemos estar y ne plantea " la pena de muerte" con que autiridad podemos decidir de la vida de un hombre Lo recomiendo amplianente
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously, just a flip through the pages will show you the issues. Some text is in the wrong place, 2 pages prior to wherw it should be, and this can be easily spotted because it has lines around it and is at the top of the page. O t h e r t e x t r e a ds l i k e the i s .