“The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” by Stephen King
Synopsis: A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.
Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”
3 out of 5 stars
As you know, I am a huge fan of Stephen King. My mother actually introduced me to his books when I was a very young teen as she is also a huge fan. I’m assuming she did because she thought I would read her books anyway.
My parents built the house that I grew up in, and my father made sure he built himself a “library”. It was just a small nook off of the living room with a big wing-back chair that had seen better days, and floor to ceiling books. Shelves of books all the way to the very high ceiling stacked three and four deep on the shelf. My father’s taste in reading runs more towards mysteries and crime thrillers (he is a huge Travis McGee fan) and my mom always read things more to my own taste – horror and the like.
I remember sitting in that big chair and reading “Nightshift”, thirty five or so years ago. I must have been 12 and it may have been one of my earliest introductions to Stephen King.
“Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is a collection that is kind of a mixed bag. Not all horror, there is a poem in here too. I did enjoy that at the beginning of each short story (or poem) there is a quick intro about how the story came to be. While I enjoyed the book as a whole, there are a few stories here that really stood out for me.
“Ur” – An English teacher buys a Kindle to impress his lady love and ends up with a pink one that does not technically exist. It’s filled with books written in alternate universes. I liked the story, but will admit this was a shameless plug.
“Under the Weather” – Deliciously creepy! Ad man goes to and from work while taking care of his ill wife. Or, so he says. The lead-in reads that it’s best to stay one step ahead of the narrator and in this case, I agree.
“The Little Green God of Agony” – This story has stuck with me since I’ve read it. It’s the story of one of the richest men in the world desperate for relief of the pain he has been in since a horrific accident. The premise is that his kind of pain is caused by a little god who feeds on pain, and the only way to rid the body of it is by exorcism. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I was asked by a so-called healer a long time ago to try to visualize it as a separate entity and make friends with it if possible. The closest thing I could come up with was the cartoon roach from the old Raid commercials. Needless to say, it didn’t work. This story is one of the best in the book.
“Summer Thunder” – The story of the end of the world. A beautiful and sensitive story and I can’t say I wouldn’t want to choose the same.
This is a good book and I enjoyed it. Not the best from King, but certainly not the worst (that distinction belongs to Dreamcatchers – do not read!). I will always read whatever King writes. Period.
The cover is gorgeous with a little bit of creepiness.