Author: Stephen King
Type: Fiction, novellas
I read it: July 2011
Stephen King delivers four satisfying novellas. It’s no Different Seasons, but really, how could it be? But it’s a collection that lives up to its name—his previous group of short stories, Just After Sunset, edged that line between waning light and coming night, while this one goes full black. The best example might be “Fair Extension,” in which the protagonist makes a deal with a certain entity who has previously haunted Derry, Maine in exchange for a turn in his luck. As his life gets drastically better, that of his neighbor slides into decay. And there’s no poetic justice…one person gets it all, the other gets shit. “1922” is a colorful period piece (is that decade its own period?) in which a man murders his wife, then unintentionally drives his teenage son from home, who ends up killing both himself and his pregnant runaway girlfriend while escaping the police. The narrator never really gets his life back—in fact, that particular item goes to the rats.
The other two stories, “Big Driver” and “A Good Marriage,” each allow you to cheer for a female protagonist to come out ahead, but only after she gets raped or finds herself to be the wife of a serial killer. Where these stories go, I won’t tell. Suffice it to say no detail is left unturned in all four stories, and you get the feeling King may have considered writing these tales as Bachman if only he wasn’t having so much morbid fun exploring these dark topics. In the end, the readers gets to dwell on the subjects at hand as much or as little as they wish. Me, I’ll never look at broke farmers, highway salesmen, helpful truckers, or quiet accountants in quite the same way again.