The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I figure I'd better put a bit of effort into this review, so rather than just throwing out a few impressions from just a few of the stories, I'll throw out impressions for ALL the stories. :) Stephen King is still a POWER in the world, for good and ill, and more importantly, he's a damn great writer. I don't care too much for short stories in general, but I do tend to enjoy them when I finally get my arm twisted.
Overall impression: SK's characterizations are King. Memorable, conflicted, and above all, deeply interesting. You know the old adage, "Kill your darlings?" Yeah. He's a master at it.
Mile 81 -
Truly gorgeous characters, especially the ones that died in horrible and grotesque ways. I sit in awe at SK's ability to evoke the feels and connect us to his people right before we wonder if they'll survive. I kinda expected a Christine-ish story, but this was pretty near perfect as it was. Awesome. Kids rock.
Premium Harmony -
Carver-like story with deep characterization, immediacy, and sudden death. Quite beautiful.
Batman and Robin Have An Altercation-
Well crafted story of road rage, but it didn't really grab me quite as much as the others. It was mostly nostalgia and a brief moment of terror.
The Dune -
A bit magical, a bit odd. A bit forgettable.
Bad Little Kid -
Fascinating characters and creepy coincidences and a very cool build. Smooth as silk. Some kids DON'T rock.
A Death -
An old-tyme lynching... or is it a murder mystery? Kill-em kill-em anyway!
Bone Church -
A meh poem.
Back to interesting characters and a rather hardcore fall from optimism to abject pessimism, including some rather memorable obsessions. It was like watching a train wreck. The ending also turned my stomach, but not for the usual horror-type reasons. It was an indictment of beliefs. Odd and disturbing tale.
Let's get away from this mortal coil, eh? Nothing changes if you go back. All your same mistakes to do over and over... or you could choose utter oblivion. No one is sinless, and the best part is the... you guessed it... the characters. I actually liked the societal preachiness. :)
Back to some cool horror and character development, featuring everyone's favorite Pink Kindle! Fuck the One Ring... this one's EVIL. ;) And yet, I found myself looking up the new models of Kindle and dreaming... and yeah, this story is a Dark Tower tie in. That part made it AWESOME.
Herman Wouk is Still Alive -
Pretty Classic King. Fall in love with the characters only to be shown how ephemeral they are while simultaneously immortalizing them quite consciously.
Under the Weather -
Damn uplifting story about someone who keeps things around well after their "Best Fresh Date". It's both sad and creepy as hell, too, but mostly very optimistic.
Blockade Billy -
Even as SK warns us that we don't have to like a particular pastime to enjoy a good story about it, I still don't care much for baseball yarns. Or any sports, for that matter. Still, I kept with it and by the end kinda wished I was given a "Bad News Bears" story with SK's twist from this little gem. Uplifting, quirky, full of hope in the middle of despair, and in the end... the fat kid we had been rooting for all along actually wound-up being six-year-old Michael Myers. And have the movie be billed as something meant for kids, too. Does that make me sick? Muahaha
Mister Yummy -
This was an oddball. I know there's a lot of magical realism meets retirement home stories out there, and SK likes to corner the field, but running to back to flashback the 50's and eighties as a wild gay man rummaging about Aids, who eventually winds up being one of the top 1% and an ultraconservative in his old age just tells me that way too many authors out there just aren't trying hard enough. Rock on.
Nostalgia poem. 'S ok. Kinda had to be there.
That Little Green God Of Agony -
A story about pain management done SK style. A lot of old tropes done with style and nice twists. SK hasn't lost his talent. Indeed, he's been sharpening his blades all along. Now, let's get that sucker out!
The Bus Is Another World -
Kinda thought this would be a great fantasy title, but no, it was more of a story about tight distraction. Do we all filter things that happen this much? "Murder? Oh well... I've got A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING...." The thing is, the character is so interesting that I sympathize. What does that make me? (Hint: that's likely the point.)
Probably one of my most favorite stories in this collection. Think Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom with a rather less tight rule system attached to it. Very creepy and rather effective. I'd probably give everything up and move to Wyoming, too.
Drunken Fireworks -
As a plain short story without anything supernatural, it was a fun drunken ride. Hatfields and McCoys with fireworks. :) Good *somewhat clean* fun.
Summer Thunder -
SF apocalypse, as only SK can do it. Definitely a more concise tale than The Stand, but this time with a nuclear option. I loved Gandalf, and watching that progression really broke my heart. SK proves that it's only the close-up that matters. *sigh*
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