Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stephen King: Full Dark, No Stars

With King's work, a novella or a novel either gets me or it doesn't. I have long admired him as a writer because he speaks plainly about his success and is down to earth. Favorites by him include Pet Sematary and The Long Walk. I know others' favorites will be different. I also enjoy a majority of his short stories.

I enjoyed Full Dark, No Stars. It's a hit because I'm still thinking about it, and that's one of my main criteria for good writing.

Each novella in this collection presents the dark side of human nature. Man or woman makes choices, and consequences follow. There aren't too many ghosts or ghouls to blame things on, and even when there are, the person making a choice didn't have to be persuaded much to do the bad thing. I like the angle of the collection because I think there's a lot of truth in it.

1922, the first story in the collection, presents life in the heart land in hard times. The protagonist makes his choices between land and his wife. This one has plenty of gore in it as well as rats and things to make one shiver, but it dragged a bit for me. It was the most Gothic of the set, though, with a ghost and murder.

Big Driver kept me on the edge of my seat, and I like that the heroine was an author. If you enjoy a good revenge story, this is it.

Fair Extension explores the consequences when a man makes a deal with the devil. Who pays? It feels grim and real in a way. I like King's understanding and fleshing out of the concept that one person's pleasure is another person's pain. If that is true, then it explains a lot of what happens in the world, and I think that's what King is getting at.

A Good Marriage is my favorite of the novellas. What happens when a woman in a long, good marriage finds out a horrific secret about her husband? I think this one is "real" in the sense that the choices wouldn't be as easy as they are often portrayed as being in movies, etc.

If you enjoy shorter works and suspense that makes you think, this collection is worth picking up. It's nice to be able to read a novella in a couple nights, too.


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