Ben Charette's Reviews > Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
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Jan 23, 12

Read from December 25, 2011 to January 15, 2012

This being my first short story collection by Mr. King, I will score each story individually, and average them together (for those of you who aren't keen with math, that means I'll add them up and divide by the number of stories - in this case fourteen). In order:
(note: asterisks ***means spoilers)

Autopsy Room Four: 3
I know, Four is in the title, but somehow I still give it a 3. This story was a good example of fun old horror (and I don't actually mean fun). A man is trapped in his soon-to-be-dissected body in an autopsy room. Is he dead, but still inhabiting his body? Or is he really still alive? With King, it could be either. It really created that "I'm trapped" feeling a lot of good horror stories have. My only problem with it was ***that the suspense really died out toward the end. It was going strong, building and keeping me on the edge of my seat, when... thphthhh. The explanation about the snake, after the climax, did not feel all that necessary. Endings have been better.

The Man in the Black Suit: 4
This won the O. Henry Award, which I knew going into it. I guess I expected a little more from it, which is why this is a 4 instead of a 5, but aside from that, it's a very well-written story. It's told by an old man on his deathbed, recounting the time as a child when he met the Devil. The voice of the piece captures the simplistic diction of the grown-farmboy perfectly, while also keeping the mystical air of it all. I could have done with a little more ***(the scene with the Devil lasts a very short amount of time), but otherwise, good.

All That You Love Will Be Carried Away: 5
A lot of people seemed to dislike this one, but it was one of my favorites in the collection. I'm going to put out asterisks right away, because I don't want to give away any of this story. ***It concerns a traveling salesman who, upon stopping at a hotel to commit suicide, considers a notebook he's been keeping throughout the years. It contains poignant or funny graffiti he's collected. This story really had a message to it: there's a deeper meaning in life that can be found in unexpected places. The ambiguous ending (does he do it or doesn't he?) sealed the deal for me.

The Death of Jack Hamilton: 3
Like Black Suit, the voice narrating this story was definitely a strong point. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it was the ONLY strong point for this one. We know what will happen from the title, and the other big events are all summed up in the exposition, before the story even gets going. Sure, how it happens makes the story worth reading, and it was an interesting take on an actual event in history, but there really wasn't any suspense, any "What will happen next?"

In the Deathroom: 3
I was excited about it from the get-go. Unfortunately, that excitement died out. At the mention of torture, I expected a somewhat grislier story. After the previous ones, I was ready for something gritty and painful. To be honest, it was neither. The premise was good, and it was written well, but it wasn't really what I was looking for.

Little Sisters of Eluria: 5
I'll be honest: I'm a Dark Tower fan, majorly. After having finished the series, a nice little Roland-refresher was delightful. I really liked the chapter setup (like each chapter was actually five or so mini-chapters, all given at the beginning of the chapter). I liked the premise. I liked that you didn't need to have read the Dark Tower books in order to read this, because that would have turned off a lot of people from reading this story. Sadly, I think it still did. Hear that, everybody? You can go ahead and read this and it will be okay, even if you haven't read the Dark Tower books. I mean, you still should read them, because they are great, but you can get along fine through this story without them.

Everything's Eventual: 4
The title story, I thought, was a very interesting one. ***Supernatural killer is hired by the government, for the "good of mankind." It's been done before, in some degree, but this was a very unique take on it. The isolation and week-to-week broke-ness, the strange shapes, and the use of the word "eventual" all contributed. It did feel a little vague and unresolved toward the end, but given the story I can understand.

L.T.'s Theory of Pets: 3
Stephen King said this was his favorite to write, but I just didn't get into it. It was an entertaining little tale, sure, but it didn't go anywhere. I guess what gets me is that this story, and L.T.'s Theory, had so much potential. He could have expanded upon it, but he didn't. It just ended. I was literally surprised when I got to the end of the story because I had expected more.

The Road Virus Heads North: 5
This was rock-solid horror. Moving paintings are somewhat of a trope when it comes to the horror genre, but this may be the most interesting take on it that I've read. I'll let y'alls read it for yourself, which you should. I was genuinely kept in suspense the whole way through, and I can't say the ending was disappointing. It really made me want to see this painting.
*EDIT* There's actually a movie adaptation of this story, and I found a picture of the painting online. At least, it was the painting used in the movie. I don't know whether it's the same as the one King owned.

Lunch at the Gotham Café: 1
In my opinion, this was the worst one in the collection. You're free to argue differently (but you'd be wrong). It felt so incredibly forced that there was no point in it where A. I felt drawn in, B. I was able to suspend disbelief, or C. I was terrified by what was unfolding in that dismal restaurant. It... I don't know, I'm not even sure what it was supposed to be. Scary? Were we supposed to be terrified? Sad? Were we meant to lament over the deteriorating relationship between two people? Infuriating? Were we supposed to feel angered by literally everyone in this story for one reason or another? You're free to read it, not like I can stop you, but be warned, it will leave a bad taste in your mouth. And not the good kind of bad.

That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French: 4
A solid relief from the last one. The entire time I read it I had an inkling of what was going on and what would happen (as any reader would; the name is enough to divulge that), but I was still totally unprepared for the ending. I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 because it kind of left you floating a lot in the beginning, and I'm always wary of short stories that tease readers with exposition. If you want to be royally teased and left in the dark, read Margo Lanagan's Black Juice. You will be adrift in a sea of confusion. On second thought, don't read Black Juice. Just avoid it. Instead, read this story.

1408: 5
My favorite in the collection, and the only one that legitimately terrified me. I really don't want to give too much away, so for the spoiler-free version: A man soon regrets his decision to spend a night in a haunted hotel room. As for the spoilerific version: ***I loved the style here. In my opinion, some of the best horror writing makes you feel trapped, in somewhere not only unfamiliar, but strange and alien. There's no way to get out even though you're sure it's all in your head. That's what 1408 did. The colors in it somehow enhanced that further. I don't know whether it was the artificial-ness of orange-yellow light, or the fact that I'm pretty sure it was a Deadlights reference (see 'It' and related books), but it was perfect. Really, the three or so pages in the bedroom were the best for me; something about the room felt even dirtier, twisted-er, sicker than even the rest of the place. It did haunted in a way that was better than other stories do haunted. Also, the feeling that something lives behind the walls--not literally so much as in the nothingness beyond--was just perfect and, I do believe, a direct tie-in to King's other works.

Riding the Bullet: 4
Another good one. It wasn't great, and there was some jumping between horror and sad-book writing, not to mention the similarities to Road Virus, but it kept me interested the whole way through. I think if there was a story picked to showcase this whole collection, Riding the Bullet would be a good pick. I don't have much else to say about it.

Luckey Quarter: 2
A little cutesie one, and a nice way to wrap up the collection, but nothing special. It had an air of "nothing happened and then nothing happened some more," but it was an easy enough read. Also, I believe, it's the shortest one in here, and is thus a good note to end on. I do think it's worth mentioning that there was some good writing when describing the crushing feel of life on her shoulders. I can't remember the exact words King used.

Average: 3.64, which I rounded to 4 for the sake of Goodread's rating system.
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01/09/2012 page 350

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message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree almost completely (except with the "that feeling, you can only say what it is in French" one, which I didn't particularly like. Maybe if I re-read it later I would, but it seemed dull, to be honest)
I loved loved LOVED "The Road Virus Heads North". I could almost exactly visualize the picture, and the suspense was wonderful(as it nearly always is with King). Maybe it helped that I was on a road trip myself while reading it.
Anyway, I think your review was pretty much dead on and reflected most of what I wanted to say in my own.

message 2: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Charette I think part of my appreciation of That Feeling was me being almost-asleep upon its reading.

Glad you liked the review. It's fun writing one for a short story collection.

Daniel Gonçalves riding the bullet has to be my absolute favorite!

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