|Submitted by Aditya Bidikar |
(Apr 14, 2005)
BEST STORY: 'The Woman in the Room'
This here book was what made me King's fan for all eternity. This was the second King book I read (after The Dead Zone) and I realised that the book was the product of true and channelized genius. All the stories in this book range from good to excellent to downright brilliant.
The foreword is a tad boring if you're not interested in behind-the-scenes, but good enough if you are. The first time I tried to read it, I was so bored I couldn't complete it. Now I read it once a week.
'Jerusalem's Lot', a precursor to 'Salem's Lot, about black magic, is a lovely specimen (though not a representative) of period writing, and the end is especially good.
'Graveyard Shift', a story about rats in the basement, is strange to say the least, and, in the end, downright surreal. Not a bad one by any rate, but if I had to choose the worst story of the collection, it would be a competition between this one and 'The Mangler', which are both actually pretty good tales.
'Night Surf', a supposed trailer for The Stand, is, strangely, touching, and you can't but feel sorry for the youngsters who know that their only options are dying soon, or living out their lives in an empty world.
'I Am the Doorway' is a (possibly) sci-fi story about an astronaut who finds alien eyes in his hands that live, watch ... and kill ...
'The Boogeyman'. You have to stop a few seconds every time you say that. 'The Boogeyman' is comparable with some of the best horror stories ever written. On the face of it, this story is an account of a boogeyman haunting a man's family, but go a little deeper, and it is a chilling psycho story (a little like 'Nona' - another King short story). The best thing about this story is that all the horror is implied. King himself says in the foreword, implied horror is, many a times, a lot more horrifying than the actual skeleton in the closet, because here, you might not what else might be there in the closet with it.
'Battleground' is brilliant. The idea of small G.I. Joe soldiers attacking someone is cute, yet deadly. The story is well-written, and the battle between the real man and the toy men is good fun, and the ending is, well, explosive to say the least.
'Trucks'. At first I hated it. Honestly, it is a little slow at the beginning, and I didn't have the patience to stop and read it when there were stories like 'The Ledge' and 'Quitters, Inc.' waiting for me. But when I did read it, I felt I was stupid to have missed this one. It isn't great, but it is a good one, and the basic premise, about trucks coming alive, is rather cute.
'Sometimes They Come Back'. If ever Tales From the Crypt hires me as a writer, I am going to adapt this story for TV (if anyone hasn't already done it [Note: I later found out that someone had, in fact, done something like it]). It has all the necessary components for a half-hour teleplay. It is a graphic, and atmospheric story, with revenge involved, and the last-line twist in the tale which makes series like Tales ... and Strange Frequency so much fun to watch.
'Strawberry Spring'. I'm not going to disgrace this story by saying too much about it. The perfect psycho-killer short story. In fact, all the non-supernatural stories in this collection are more or less brilliant.
'The Ledge'. As I said in the last line, more or less brilliant. I haven't seen Cat's Eye yet, but I'm looking forward to it, because it contains two of my favourite stories of this bunch. About a bet - sorry, a wager - involving a woman, twenty thousand dollars, and a ledge.
'The Lawnmower Man'. Downright surreal. I didn't quite get this story, about an evil satyr who mows lawns. It is a good read, but either I didn't understand it, or it is much ado about nothing.
'Quitters, Inc.' If anyone ever found a way to edit my memories and took this story out of them, I'm gonna put my head down and weep. I actually made my current girlfriend say yes when I proposed by showing her this story, about a cigarette-quitting organisation that does its job. She figured that a guy with such good taste in reading couldn't be that bad. (Actually, I am just kidding - I don't have a girlfriend, but that's how good this story is.)
'I Know What You Need'. About shallowness, callowness, and loneliness. Whatever else you might think about the villain, you have to pity him. And somehow, you sometimes think he's nicer than the heroine. It is about a girl who meets a guy who always knows exactly what she wants. It, of course, can't but be too good to be true.
'Children of the Corn'. This story, along with 'Jerusalem's Lot', is probably the most out-and-out horror story in this book. It is, of course, very good, and it's also atmospheric. But not one of the best. It is about a town where there seem to be no adults - and, in fact, very few people.
'The Last Rung on the Ladder'. This is a fantastic story about the relationship between a guy and his sister. It might bring a tear to your eye, and, well, if it doesn't, then it should.
'The Man Who Loved Flowers'. One of the scariest, and, consequently, funniest stories in this book. It is about how love affects people in the springtime. We follow a young man through town as he buys flowers for his love. The atmosphere is set amazingly, and King carries off the story with a grace that only he could manage. Definitely one of his best.
'One For the Road'. A lovely coda of sorts to 'Salem's Lot. Two old men are sitting in a bar during a snowstorm, when a young man bursts in, nearly dead. He has left his wife and daughter in his car which is in Jerusalem's Lot. And when they get there, they find them gone. ... Well, not quite.
'The Woman in the Room'. The perfect ending to a nearly perfect book. It is written in the present tense, and it is the most autobiographical story of the collection. Real, brutal, somewhat masochistic, this story reflects King's feelings when his mother was dying. A son can't watch his mother die a slow death as she sits in a hospital room. He wonders what to do.
Thus, this collection is a favour that King has done the world, and we should not insult him by not liking it. The oracle has spoken. Now thou shalt go to thy neighbourhood bookshop and buy this book. And thou shalt love it. Thus is it said, and thus will it happen.
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