A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.
Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”
ebook, 512 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Scribner
Four stars: An exciting, suspenseful and jaw dropping collection of King stories. A must read for any Constant Reader.
There is an art to writing a short story, and very few authors can masterfully pull it off. King is one of those authors who can quickly engage you in a story, hook, line and sinker. His fascinating characters, interesting story lines and shocking finales never cease to amaze me. As a long time Constant Reader of King, I am remiss to admit that it has been awhile since I have read a collection of King stories. Once I plunged into this book, I remembered why I love his short stories so much. This a bundle of eclectic stories that will entertain you and then stun you with those final lines. I admit, a few left me scratching my head, and others were just plain strange, but in the end, I enjoyed my time with this collection. One aspect that I particularly enjoyed was that King writes an introduction to each story, discussing the inspiration for the story. After reading this book, I was once again reminded how brilliant King is, and why I am and will remain a Constant Reader.
Here is a brief run down of the stories:
Mile 81: This story opens the book, and it is eerie and creepy. A young boy who wants to prove that he isn't a baby goes on an adventure. He ends up saving a couple of kids from a alien car that eats people. Vintage King. Four stars.
Premium Harmony: This is a disturbing story about a couple whose marriage has gone on far too long, and then the aftermath when one of them suddenly dies at the local convenience store. Will the survivor feel grief and remorse? Three stars.
Batman and Robin Have an Altercation: This was an interesting story about a man who is caring for his father who is battling dementia. Their weekly afternoon outing ends with a case of road rage. Three and a half stars.
The Dune: This is a creepy little story with a old man who imparts an eerie secret to his lawyer. It is about a sand dune on a small island that writes the names of people scheduled to die. Is it the old man's time? Four stars.
Bad Little Kid: A suspenseful story that involves a man on death row for shooting a kid point blank. Why would anyone kill a kid? Turns out, there are some not so nice kids out there, and if this particular one crosses your path, be extremely scared. Four stars.
A Death: This is a old time Western. A simple man is arrested for molesting and killing a young girl, but he swears adamantly that he didn't do it. His hat was found at the scene, and the town is demanding justice. The sheriff isn't so sure, but once the man's fate is sealed, there is a shocking twist. This one totally got me in the end. Five stars.
Bone Church: This is a long poem that I didn't quite get. Not for me.
Morality: This is a story that is a King's take on an Indecent Proposal, but it doesn't involve sex. I can't tell you what the proposal is, but I will tell you it is strange and disturbing. The ending leaves the reader shocked and confused. Another jaw dropper. Three and a half stars.
Afterlife: King's version of the afterlife is definitely strange. If you could go back and repeat your life without making changes would you? This is definitely one to ponder. Four stars.
UR: This was probably my favorite of the bunch. I read this when it first released,and I loved reading it again. Imagine receiving your Amazon Kindle only to discover it is pink and it has some strange features. This is classic King, and it has a tie to his epic Dark Tower Series. Loved this one. Five stars.
Herman Wouk is Still Alive: This is a rather depressing story, but one that got me thinking considering it was spawned by a real life event. This is a King take on Thelma and Louise, except it is far more sad. Four Stars.
Under the Weather: A classic, creepy King tale. A man whose wife is ill, but on the mend, goes about his day, and then he makes a horrible discovery. This is one where the reader clues in before the character, and you wait for the stunning reveal. Four stars.
Blockade Billy: A baseball story that involves a catcher who is a bit of a simpleton, but he quickly proves himself and rises to fame. Then the terrible truth comes out. This is one that bites you in the butt at the end. Four stars.
Mister Yummy: Another King story about death. Who is going to be coming for you when it is your time? An interesting little tale. Four stars.
Tommy: Another poem. This one was a bit more interesting.
The Bus is Another World: This is another creepy, shocking tale about a man who is in a hurry to make an important meeting when he witnesses somethings horrible through the window on the bus next to him. Does he miss the meeting and help? Three and a half stars.
Obits: What would you do if you suddenly learned that when you wrote an obituary it came true? An interesting story. Four stars.
Drunken Fireworks: This was another of my favorites. I liked that this one was light and it wasn't creepy or scary. This is what happens when two opposing families decide to engage in a drunken firework contest. Five stars.
Summer Thunder: I couldn't finish this one, not that it wasn't good, but this is apocalyptic King. It features a man who has survived a nuclear apocalypse. It was sad and depressing, and I couldn't go through with watching the dog and the man suffer.
Bazaar of Bad Dreams is certainly an eclectic blend of stories. I am sure everyone will have their favorites. I loved how King can pull in you in with just a couple of pages, and then he slaps you with a big punch at the end. Some stories are frustrating in that it is up to the reader to decide what happens, while others are flat out strange. Still, if you haven't experienced a King collection of short stories, you must try this book so you can see how short stories should be done.
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.