Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Green Mile trade paperback

The Green Mile (1996)

Originally published in six small books, chapbooks, in monthly installments

A #1 New York Times Bestseller

Plume trade edition (left) - 462 pages
Pocket books paperback (right) - 536 pages

Green Mile paperback

The Green Mile - the movie
Our book ratings
Chapbook blurbs
Aaron's Commentary
Stephen King bibliography

From the back cover of the trade edition:
       At Cold Mountain Penitentiary, along the lonely stretch of cells known as the Green Mile, killers as depraved as the psychopathic "Billy the Kid" Wharton and the possessed Eduard Delacroix await death strapped in "Old Sparky". Here guards as decent as Paul Edgecombe and as sadistic as Percy Wetmore watch over them. But good or evil, innocent or guilty, none have ever seen the brutal likes of the new prisoner, John Coffey, sentenced to death for raping and murdering two young girls. Is Coffey a devil in human form? Or is he a far different kind of being?

From the back cover of the paperback:
       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.

Read for group discussion on December 8, 1999

The Green Mile - the Movie (1999)
Running time: 187 minutes

Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecombe
Michael Clarke Duncan plays John Coffey
David Morse plays "Brutal" Brutus Howell
Bonnie Hunt plays Jan Edgecombe
James Cromwell plays Warden Hal Moores
Michael Jeter plays Eduard "Del" Delacroix
Graham Greene plays Arlen Bitterbuck
Doug Hutchison plays Percy Wetmore
Sam Rockwell plays William "Wild Bill" Wharton
Barry Pepper plays Dean Stanton
Jeffrey DeMunn plays Harry Terwilliger
Patricia Clarkson plays Melinda Moores
Harry Dean Stanton play Toot-Toot
Dabbs Greer plays elderly Paul Edgecombe
Eve Brent plays Elaine Connely
Gary Sinise has a cameo role as Burt Hammersmith

*** 4 Academy Awards Nominations! ***
Best Picture
Best Supporting Actor - Michael Clarke Duncan
Best Screenplay (Adapted) - Frank Darabont
Best Sound
Green Mile movie cover

Pocket books paperback
movie tie-in cover
536 pages

How we each rated this book
Dan 10 Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 8 Barb 10
Aaron 9 Cynthia 10
Lindsey - Jackie 8
Kerry 7

Two Dead Girls Mouse on the Mile Coffey's Hands Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix Night Journey Coffey on the Mile

From the back covers of the chapbooks:
Beware! If you haven't read The Green Mile the later blurbs can be spoilers...

The Two Dead Girls
They were sisters, and the picture-perfect image of innocence. No one understood their brutal deaths, not even the man who killed them. But John Coffey is about to gain a new insight, about his life in prison, and about the one man who will walk him down that green mile...toward destiny.

The Mouse on the Mile
Cold Mountain Penitentiary has been home to many troubled souls. E Block, where the electric chair waits for those who must pay the ultimate price, has been home to the most troubled of all. And here, not all the evil is behind bars. Sometimes it carries a gun and wears a badge. Cold Mountain is a place of the damned, but it can also be a place where salvation comes from the most unlikely source.

Coffey's Hands
Welcome back to E Block, the deadliest place this side of the electric chair, where assaults are a daily grind and miracles are about to happen. Paul Edgecombe has become increasingly curious about John Coffey, the brutal killer of two girls. But Coffey is about to reveal something extraordinary, and life on the Green Mile may never be the same again.

The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix
Time has run out for one of the inmates at Cold Mountain penitentiary. Eduard Delacroix is set to take that final walk down the Green Mile. But first he must say good-bye---to the guards, to his fellow inmates, and to a strange creature that forever changed his life. Little does he know of the terrible fate that awaits him, and of a devilish plan of revenge.

Night Journey
Truth time is approaching at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Paul Edgecombe is taking a huge gamble, one where the stakes are high and the consequences deadly. He and his fellow guards take convicted killer John Coffey away from Death Row in the dead of night and bring him to the bedside of a woman writhing in torment. It is there they will find out once and for all if this mountain of a man is a miracle worker or a monster...

Coffey on the Mile
Cold Mountain Penitentiary has seen its share of death through the years. Now it's John Coffey's turn to take that final walk down the Green Mile. Yet prison guard Paul Edgecombe has uncovered a devastating truth, which means he could be too late to save both himself and Coffey. You see, death by execution may be the easy way out. It's living with the consequences that may last an eternity...

Aaron's Commentary  Stephen King - The Green Mile

From reading this one would think that Stephen King has been writing serialized novels his whole career, he does such a masterful job of it.  He doesn't employ the cliffhanger endings to each episode I was expecting, but instead closes each volume just when the reader feels the greatest sense of intrigue about the plot or the strongest attachment to the characters.  The present-day framework beginning each volume is nothing short of brilliant.  Setting out just to remind his readers what has transpired, King arrives at a terrific parallel between a retirement home and death row.  Even throw-away lines, like Paul's observation that Alzheimer's is AIDS for old people, are terrific, and Paul's present-day perspective adds emotional impact to the moving story of John Coffey on the Mile.

The main part of the story is effectively told, and the final execution scene is very powerful.  The characterization is strong throughout.  John Coffey in particular is wonderfully enigmatic and delivers many chilling lines ("They're still in there.  I hear them screaming.").  King also uses his story as an effective vehicle for social commentary about racism and capital punishment, but without lecturing.  My quibbles - the abilities of Mr. Jingles seem overdone to me, since they never really tie into the plot; the description of the death of Paul's wife is unnecessary - are very minor in the face of what King has achieved.

As this novel demonstrates, King is one of the most talented writers alive today.  He doesn't get the credit he deserves because he has been branded a mere horror writer (even though many of his best stories, like The Green Mile, really aren't horror at all), and because he is too successful commercially for jealous and/or snobbish critics to accept him as a legitimate author.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Our book group has also read the following books by Stephen King
-- The Gunslinger, Dark Tower book 1  in April 2004

Stephen King (1947-     ) is the world's best-selling novelist. He is a US writer of horror, dark fantasy, and fantasy.

1982 World Fantasy Award for short story "Do the Dead Sing?" ( "The Reach")
1988 Bram Stoker Award for novel Misery
1991 Bram Stoker Award for collection Four Past Midnight
1991 Bram Stoker Award for novelette "Lunch at the Gotham Café"
1995 World Fantasy Award for short story "The Man in the Black Suit"
1997 Bram Stoker Award for novel The Green Mile
1999 Bram Stoker Award for novel Bag of Bones
2001 Bram Stoker Award for nonfiction On Writing
2003 Bram Stoker Award for life achievement
2003 The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

The books in his dark fantasy series, The Dark Tower are: The Gunslinger (1982), The Drawing of the Three (1987), The Waste Lands (1991), Wizard and Glass (1998), Wolves of the Calla (2003) Song of Susannah (2004), and The Dark Tower (2004).  For serious fans, there's a reference book covering the first 4 books of the series, Stephen King's The Dark Tower: A Concordance, Volume 1 by Robin Furth.

The Eyes of the Dragon (1987) and The Talisman (written with Peter Straub, 1984) are straight fantasy.  The sequel to The Talisman, Black House (written with Peter Straub, 2001), is a dark fantasy with ties to King's Dark Tower saga.

Other novels by Stephen King are (in alphabetic order): Bag of Bones (1998), Carrie (1974), Cell (2006), Christine(1983), The Colorado Kid (2005), Cujo (1981), Cycle of the Werewolf (1985), The Dark Half (1989), The Dead Zone (1979), Desperation (1996), Dolores Claiborne (1993), Dreamcatcher (2001), Duma Key (2008), Firestarter (1980), From a Buick 8: A Novel (2002), Gerald's Game (1992), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999), The Green Mile (1996), Insomnia (1994), It (1986), Lisey's Story (2006), Misery (1987), Needful Things (1991), Pet Sematary (1989), Rose Madder(1995), 'Salem's Lot (1975), The Shining (1977), The Stand (1978, Complete and Uncut Edition 1990), Tommyknockers (1987), and Under the Dome (2009).  Many of these titles have been filmed as movies.

His short fiction has been collected in the following books: Night Shift (1978), Different Seasons (1982), Skeleton Crew (1985), Four Past Midnight (1990), Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993), Hearts in Atlantis (1999), and Everything's Eventual (2002), and Just After Sunset (2008).

The books Stephen King originally published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman are: Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), The Running Man (1982), Thinner (1984), The Regulators (1996), and Blaze (2007).

King has written the non-fiction books Danse Macabre (1980) and On Writing (2000).

Stephen King has also done numerous screenplays.

Our book club's page for The Gunslinger by Stephen King, Dark Tower 1
The Official Stephen King Web Presence
Salon Arts & Entertainment | The Green Mile (movie)
The Green Mile - a review by Dr. Torgo review: The Green Mile by S.King
Kev's Stephen King House of The Green Mile

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This page was last updated December 10, 2009