So I was gonna say I haven’t read much Stephen King lately, which is technically true, but then I realized that this is my third King book this year! Is it possible I’m coming around to King again, after many many years away? I think it might be.
I had heard of this book but wasn’t interested in picking it up, because it’s newer and I have this prejudice against “new King” that I picked up around the time I read and was greatly disappointed by Cell. I was like, King has stopped being creepy and spooky and interesting and is instead some crotchety old man and pfft whatever. This may not be a correct assumption on my part, but it’s stuck, and so when I saw that this was next up for my book club, I was equal parts “ohhhhh this is going to suck” and “hey, maybe it won’t be so bad.”
And it wasn’t so bad! In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite books out of King, and it is definitely my favorite of his collections (of which I have read not very many). There are four novellas included, though one is like forty pages and seems a little short for that category, and I found all of them to be awesome. And even better, I found all of them to fit in with each other in some way or other, which is a fun thing in a collection — I learned from this one that King has a thing against librarians, a thing for biting, a thing for people getting away with murder, and a thing for making me think a story will go one way and then totally not doing that. Fantastic.
I don’t want to say too much about the stories proper, because they are short and I found that the descriptions I read after the fact just did not live up to the stories themselves and I don’t want to fail you guys! But if you need something to get you started, I’d summarize the stories as follows: 1922 is a rambling confession letter, Big Driver is the story of an author’s trip gone horribly terribly wrong (and then horribly terribly wronger), Fair Extension offers up an interesting way to deal with cancer, and A Good Marriage is about, well, a good marriage that’s suddenly not.
Oh, I should also mention that there is rather a lot of violence and horribleness, especially in Big Driver, and so if you are not inclined to appreciate or tolerate such things, I would recommend against this collection. I have to admit I almost quit Big Driver more than once, and at least one person in my book club did give up on it. But in general I don’t think it’s too much worse than Misery, if that gives you a reference point.
Recommendation: For fans of awful things that aren’t happening to themselves and awful people they hope they’ll never meet.