Stephen King's phenomenal book sales and Hollywood deals might put off the more literary-inclined reader. But this collection of short stories should do more than enough to persuade of the sheer brilliance of this writer. Poe is clearly a respected antecedent, but Shelley, Stoker and Wyndham are King's true inspirations. And Huxley, too. What we have here are brilliantly entertaining and disturbingly memorable characters, situations, developments, milieux. Who could ever forget a cat which escapes on a car journey, the distant vision of an explosion in New York, figures in a lonely field, the body of a girl in the trunk of a Mercedes?
King's skills are many, and only the completely narcissitic critic will try to accuse him of being derivative or unoriginal. What he does is to imagine the worst possible situations in the most ordinary ways. His characterisations and descriptions are simply phenomenal.
As a reader or listener you are just swept up by the detail or nuance. And everything you hear draws you deeper into the narrative. 9/11 is a recurring presence in these stories, as is the apparently casual violence of the contemporary American way of life. But the strongest attraction of the collection is King's depiction of the sheer ordinariness of life and how the smallest thing can tilt the universe, thrusting one into the path of forces barely suspected to exist.
One for fans, without question. But also one for all those who have never before read this true genius of American culture. You will certainly be rewarded (... in heaven or in hell).
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© 2008 AudioBooksReview