This is the first hardcover I’ve bought in a while. I read it in October last year and am only now getting around to writing my review. It’s Stephen King, so no surprises that this is a fairly long book. My edition is 592 pages and contains some nice black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The book’s title is self-explanatory: Fairy Tale.
‘Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.’
From the Author, Stephen King:
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
“The house was built in unhappiness, has been lived in with unhappiness, there has been blood spilt on its floors, there has been disappearance and accident.”
-JERUSALEM’S LOT by Stephen King
I’ve written about Stephen King before on this blog. In my review of IT back in May 2020, I complained about King’s penchant for ‘overlong’ writing in some of his doorstoppers. I have always thought one of the pieces of advice in his excellent memoir On Writing was ironic. In it, King refers to the classic American writing guide, The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and highlights the guideline to “omit needless words.” Of course, it’s all subjective but just imagine if King had applied it more forcibly to his own writing. How about omitting needless pages and pages of backstory, Stephen? No? Well, who am I to argue with one of THE bestselling authors of the last 50 years.
I realize that I’m waffling a bit myself, but I just wanted to say how much I’ve come to prefer King’s shorter works. Which leads us to Night Shift, King’s first collection of short stories.
‘Night Shift: Excursions into Horror is the fifth book published by Stephen King, and his first collection of short stories. The book was released by Doubleday in February of 1978. Night Shift received the Balrog Award for Best Collection, and in 1979 it was nominated as best collection for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. Many of King’s most famous short stories were included in the collection.’
“For a long time I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting.”
I finally read Stephen King’s The Stand during the last two months of 2020. What a year to read his story of a deadly new strain of the flu that wipes out most of the population of the planet. “Are you crazy?” I hear you ask. Probably. The timing wasn’t planned, it’s just the way it worked out. The length of this book kept me away from it for so long, 1152 pages in the Complete and Uncut Edition. Now that I’ve read it, I can understand all the high praise it gets. The Standis King’s masterpiece.
To simplify it, The Stand tells the story of a battle between Good and Evil after a devastating pandemic. I can’t say for sure that it is King’s “best” book because I haven’t read them all. It’s subjective, anyway, but it has become my favourite King novel. I could end the review here–“please do!” I hear you shout–but that would be lazy of me. Let me tell you some of the reasons why this book blew me away.
I’m currently working on a longer review of Stephen King’s Night Shift, but I wanted to post a review of a horror story today, Halloween 2020. So here is a brief review of King’s A Good Marriage. It was published in 2010 as part of the novella collection: Full Dark, No Stars. The story was adapted for the big screen in 2014.
What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down?
When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband.
How well do you really know someone? Could a close member of your family be hiding an incredible secret? In “A Good Marriage”, Stephen King explores these ideas with the skill of a truly gifted writer.
“Gray Matter” first appeared in the magazine Cavalier in October 1973. It’s taken from Stephen King’s first collection, Night Shift (1978), which contains twenty of his earliest short stories. These stories were originally published between 1970 and 1977. This collection includes Children of the Corn, Quitters Inc., The Lawnmower Man, Trucks, The Ledge, Jerusalem’s Lot, and more.
My Summary & Thoughtson “Gray Matter”
A young boy runs into a 24-hour convenience store during a heavy snowstorm. He looks terrified and asks the owner, Henry, to sell him a case of beer for his father. Henry and the two locals in the store know the boy well. He is Richie Grenadine’s son Timmy, and his father often sends him to buy his beer, making sure it’s the cheapest beer in the store. Richie used to come and buy it himself until fairly recently.
‘They float,’ it growled, ‘they float, Georgie, and when you’re down here with me, you’ll float, too–’
I went through a Stephen King phase when I was sixteen years old. It only lasted a couple of years, starting with Misery (1987) and ending with the collection Four Past Midnight (1990). A year earlier and I might have started with It. I wonder what my sixteen-year-old self would’ve made of it. It’s very likely I would have enjoyed it a lot more than I did reading it in 2020. Does that mean that Stephen King is more suited to teenagers? Well, I don’t know about that but I would wager that we are a lot more forgiving when we are younger readers.
Before I go on, I want to point out that I have read Salem’s Lot, The Shining and Bag ofBones over the last four years. And I enjoyed each one of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy It.
I chose this as my second ‘All Hallows Read‘ book after finishing Richard Matheson’s Hell Houseearlier in October. At over 650 pages it’s a big read, yet it rarely felt like a slog. I’m not a huge fan of King, but I’ve always found his work very readable. I went through a phase of reading his novels in my teens spanning from Misery (1987) to The Dark Half (1989). Unfortunately, this included The Tommyknockers which was a slog to finish.
The Shining is one of King’s most famous novels as well as being very highly rated. It’s basically a haunted-house story, but I also found it to be a fascinating look into alcoholism and self-control. The main character, Jack Torrance, is a recovering alcoholic with a fiery temper, so well portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Kubrick’s movie. In the book, the characters are a lot more fleshed out than in the film. This gives us a chance to feel more attached to them, making their eventual fates that bit more distressing. Continue reading →