Saturday, August 22, 2009

That was uncalled for, Uncle Stevie!

I've been a huge Stephen King fan for most of my life. I read Carrie and Salem's Lot when they first came out, and anxiously awaited his new releases. As time went on, however, the books got thicker, but less coherent somehow. I stopped grabbing each new release, and eventually stopped reading his books altogether. I was thrilled to see that he released a new collection of short stories recently called Just After Sunset. Although his novels might have "lost the plot," he's always been a master of the short story.

I listened to the audio book of this collection. The introduction, end notes and one of the stories were read by King himself. Other narrators included Mare Winningham, Jill Eikenberry and George Guidall. There seem to be two recurring themes in the book: the events of 9/11 and facing/dealing with death. Most of the stories were enjoyable, but didn't really make a big impact on me. Until, that is, the last one, titled "A Very Tight Place." This has to be one of the most disturbing stories he's written in a long time. Maybe it was because I was listening to it rather than reading it, but . . . it's really awful. But, awful in a squirm-in-your-seat/Stephen-King sort of way. I get that the point of the story was rebirth and a new appreciation for life. Still . . . eeeeewwww! In the notes at the end of the story, King said he even grossed himself out a little with that story. And you know that would take some doing!

The other stories, particularly "The Gingerbread Girl" and "The Cat From Hell" were also enjoyable and suspenseful. All in all, another great outing from the master storyteller!

Final Verdict for Just After Sunset: Four Gherkins for the sheer audacity of "A Very Tight Place" alone!

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