Saturday, December 3, 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

"I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger . . ." writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922," the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In "Big Driver," a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Raped and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

"Fair Extension," the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

In "A Good Marriage" when her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

King's novels bore me to tears, with the exception of The Long Walk. His endless narrative almost puts me into a coma. However, I have always loved his short story compilations. The theme in all of these stories is a revenge of some kind. And for the most part it is an every day kind of revenge, due to a horrible every day circumstance. "1922" left me with feeling nothing; "Fair Extension" was kind of predictable, and "A Good Marriage" was pretty predictable too. The only reason this book gets 4 stars is for the story "Big Driver". Disturbing, hard to read,  and all too possible, this one story pushed the rating up from a 2 to a 4. You feel everything Tess is feeling, and can't help but go along on this horrible ride with her. I was up till 7 in the morning reading it because I had to find out what happened and had knots in my stomach by the time I had finished it.It really makes you think about what you would do if you were in a similar situation; contact the authorities or take matters into your own hands to save yourself embarrassment and get true justice for what you had to endure. King proves in this story alone, that all of his books don't have to have the supernatural elements, because every day life and circumstances beyond our control are way more terrifying, and he is the perfect person to write about them. Read this for Big Driver alone, you won't be disappointed, but you will be left disturbed.

4 stars

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