Eric's Reviews > Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
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May 25, 11

bookshelves: books-i-own, fiction-collection, fiction, horror
Read from May 19 to 24, 2011

** spoiler alert ** All four stories in this collection are well-written and interesting, though 1922 probably dragged on a bit too much. King is my favorite writer, and I enjoy almost anything he reads because I like his style and manner of writing. From that aspect, this book is no exception.

Having said that, there was one common theme through all four stories that I didn't care for, and that is selfishness. In the writer's note at the end, King says that he's interested in placing ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and seeing how they'll react. If these stories are any indication, he thinks they'll react in self-centered ways. This makes the protagonists unlikeable and hard to root for, though some are more unlikeable than others.

The most unlikeable is Wilfred James in 1922, the farmer who kills his wife because she's about to sell a plot of farmland to a pig farm and butchery. I'm sorry, I don't care how much you love the land and how badly you don't want to live next to a pig farm and how much you hate the city and don't want to move there. Murder is not an acceptable option. It's an extremely selfish one that says your desires are more important than your spouse's life. Dragging his teenage son into the murder made him even more loathesome.

This didn't bother me too much, though, because the rest of the story is pretty much the high price James pays for his selfishness. I don't think the reader is supposed to root for him.

With Tess in "Big Driver" it's not quite the same. Make no mistake, I was glad she got her revenge, but again, she was so concerned about herself that she disregarded going to the police and reporting her attack. She dismisses that idea because of the attention it would bring her, and because there's nothing in it for her - besides, I suppose, justice. By doing this, she demonstrates no consideration or even concern about the other bodies in the ditch, how by reporting her crime those bodies will be discovere and thus bring some closure to the families of those missing women, not to mention their justice for making the attacker and accomplices pay for all their crimes. But not, Tess doesn't care about that, because she can't see past herself. She wants what she wants, and she's going to do it, no matter how it may negatively impact others. From that point of view, she's not all that different than her rapist.

Streeter in "Fair Extension" probably has the best reason for his selfishness, since he's dying of cancer, but the enjoyment and pleasure he gets from another's person suffering (and the suffering of that person's family) makes him another unsympathetic character. Especially since he still acts like the person's best friend, so he's a liar and hypocrite to boot.

"A Good Marriage" is probably my favorite story, and Darcy probably the least unlikeable protagonist in all the stories. Though even she refuses to do the right thing and turn her husband, again because of the impact it will have on her (though she also thinks of her kids). Well, sometimes doing the right thing is hard. I like how she kills her husband, but again, after implying she's forgiven him for his crimes, making her a liar, as well.

So that's my take on these four stories. Still a big King fan, but he certainly portrays his characters in an uflattering light, to put it mildly.
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