A reclusive couple's power goes out and they are forced to use their scarce survivalist supplies to live off the grid.
Sometimes I can be too damn liteA reclusive couple's power goes out and they are forced to use their scarce survivalist supplies to live off the grid.
Sometimes I can be too damn literal for my own good -- and resistant to anything mind-bendy, trippy, weird, or otherwise Weird. That one sentence plot summary above (not to mention the snappy title and awesome cover art) had me salivating to get my hands on this Grindhouse novella. I love any kind of a survival story, especially if you throw in off the grid and possibly end of the world elements.
Survival makes strange bedfellows of us all. It brings out the best (and worst) in us. It makes allies of enemies and makes us kill (and sometimes possibly eat) our allies. For dramatic purposes, survivalstories are the sweetsweetsiren song in my wheelhouse.
This story? Well, it's kind of false advertising in a way. It *is* a story about a couple losing their power, and it is *sort of* about a couple trying to live "off the grid" but it is in no way a literal interpretation of these things. This is not a survival story.
If anything, it is much more a dark, grotesque psychological exploration of paranoia and our often tenuous relationship with reality and our construction of it. Any other time, and *that* could have been in my wheelhouse too, it's just I was expecting (due to my own penchant for literalness) a grabby, clawing "oh my god the water's turned off and our cupboards are bare" survival story and what I got was an unsettling, weird, examination of one couple's descent into Hell? madness? bad hygiene? a horrible toxic marriage? a fifth dimension?
Normally, I love it in the shadowy, shaky corners of The Twilight Zone, it just didn't work for me here. Effective, evocative writing though!!! Kudos for that. And some fairly, squishy, glucky, squirmy scenes for those who appreciate things of an effluvium nature. ...more
I am familiar with Richard Chizmar because A) I *love* Cemetery Dance Publications (which he founded) and B) Chizmar has launched a massive King re-read and you can follow his progress (not to mention fabulous guest posts) here at his blog Stephen King Revisited.
So in my Twitter feed this evening was a link to this short story. Who can resist a short story called "The Box"? Every time I see that title I give a little shudder and give in to a lot curiosity, because WHO DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!
I'll ALWAYS need to know what's in the mothereffing box. Yeah, curiosity. She's a real bitch.
So this story? It's gooooood. Pulpy good and creepy (if a little derivative and predictable). Still, at 15 pages, definitely worth a read. Go check it out now! Don't you want to know what's in the box too??? ...more
Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been Currently available for FREE through The New Yorker website.
This is a "short" short story and if I have any real complaint is that I wish it had been longer. But brief King is rare King so I'm just gonna shut up and enjoy this little piece for what it is.
So what is it?
It's a moody little Western gem that sucks you in from its opening scene: a sheriff and a posse come to "collect" Jim Trusdale -- for lack of better phrasing, the village idiot (Constant Readers will also be reminded of John Coffey from The Green Mile). Jim has misplaced his beloved well-worn hat. Unfortunately for him it's been recovered near the dead body of a 10 year old girl who has also been robbed of her birthday silver dollar.
None of this looks good for simple Jim. In fact, it all adds up to a heaping mound of terrible. As one man observes: "You got bad luck all over...You’re painted in it."
Like King's best short stories, you won't be able to put this one down until you finish it. In just a few short pages he's able to create a remarkable amount of tension between the weary Sheriff who begins to have doubts about Jim's guilt, and the accused who has no meaningful way to defend himself against this horrible crime. The men share a potent intimacy in the closed confines of the holding cell (and a strip search scene that is brief but memorable).
And about that ending:
(view spoiler)[First of all, didn't see it coming. Maybe because I had John Coffey on the brain, I really thought this story was another version of "the innocent simpleton" being taken advantage of. So yes, silver dollar in the poop really surprised me O.O ....turns out Jim was guilty after all (unless someone planted that silver dollar afterwards; maybe?) (hide spoiler)]