Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and soul-crushingly bleak. Stephen King is a master of the short story form, though no4.5 stars, rounded down.
Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and soul-crushingly bleak. Stephen King is a master of the short story form, though not all four in this collection were created equal. I found Fair Extension the weakest, not giving fair shrift to the feelings a man must surely have for knowing he's brought ruin on a lot of innocent people. I found A Good Marriage the strongest, resonating most closely and ending on the most reasonably upbeat note of any of them (not that this is saying much, mind you); it was the one that made me consider "what if this were me" the most.
For anyone who loves Stephen King, this book is a must-read. For those who don't or maybe just somehow haven't been exposed to him, I'd still highly recommend it if you have the stomach for being depressed. (Seriously, so much so that I had to put the book down between stories and go do something happy.) It's not horror as you'd traditionally think of it; it is entirely possible, and in fact likely, that the only darkness in these stories was inside the characters' own heads. To me, that's King at his best: when the reader can't tell if the horror is supernatural or simply internal. (The one exception to this is the story Fair Extension, which is clearly supernatural.)
I'm very glad I read this, and I'll probably be thinking about it for a few days. In the meanwhile, pardon me while I go watch some videos of kittens being adorable. You'll need that after reading this VERY aptly named collection....more