Sunday, February 13, 2011

CBRIII: Book#7: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Oh, Stephen King! I just can't quit you! No matter how many times you disappoint (Under the Dome) or underwhelm me ('Salem's Lot), I just keep coming back for more. It's a good thing that you are on more than you are off, sir. Good for you and good for me. This collection of stories is another batch of good.

Unlike the last King short story collection I read, Full Dark, No Stars , there is no underlying theme to the tales. There are also more stories. My favorite, by far, was "The Cat From Hell". I think this is due to my immediate recognition of the story being a part of one of my favorite movies as a kid: Tales From the Darkside: The Movie. From the very first word my mind was able to conjure images of the house, the cat, and the wrinkled and ancient visage of actor William Hickey. It was a glorious thing. Even without the childhood association, this is a short but sweet tale of a cat taking revenge. It isn't very often you get to say that, now is it?

I found "The Gingerbread Girl" to be horrifying for a couple of reasons. The first is the death of a child, which never fails to make me sick to my stomach or start my always overactive mind reeling. When Emmy begins literally running from her old life, I wasn't sure where the story would go. It's only after Emmy speaks to someone about a rich asshole on the island who brings "nieces" home with him on occasion that the second layer of horror starts.

The last story, "A Very Tight Spot", isn't very frightening, though were I to be in Curtis's place I would be beyond terrified, but it is funny. Funny, disgusting, full of revenge and potty humor. So, of course I enjoyed it!

King doesn't bring fourteen winners here, but he's done quite well. Some of the stories are more about how frightening it could be to have yourself change without knowing why or to what end than because of ghosts, killers, or the supernatural. Then again, which scares you more?

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