Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "The Bazaar of Bad Dreams" by Stephen King

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Author: Stephen King
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary: Since his first collection, Nightshift, published 35 years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction.  In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book.  He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the after life, guilt, what we would do different if we could see into the future or correct mistakes of the past, and more.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King's finest gifts to his constant reader - "I made them especially for you," says King.  "Feel free to examine them, but please be careful.  The best of them have teeth."

Personal Review: Thank you Mr. King!!!  You've given me what I've been waiting for.  Stories that reminded me of the earlier works from the 80s and 90s that kept me terrified as a kid, and I feel like I"m getting that sense of satisfaction again after reading this collection of stories...with a book cover that is rather awesome.

What I can say is that although King offered a strong collection of creepy stories to enjoy, when drawing a comparison back to his previous collections like "Nightshift" or "Nightmares and Dreamscapes," I didn't find them to be as strong as they once were.  However, I think we can all agree that King hasn't been delving into the traditional horror stories that defines his early career...and that's fine.

That being said, the stories included in this collection were still strong, offering 20 tales for me to devour one by one.  Although many had been published before, they weren't ones I was familiar with, and some of them even addressed the digital shifts in technology with a story about a Kindle that acts as a window to alternate dimensions.  And this isn't the figurative window where reading can take you to places, this was some real "you're in an alternate dimension" type of stuff, which I rather enjoyed.

Some stories were undoubtedly stronger than others; however, I think there is something for everyone in this series, which is worth reading.  King is doing what he does best, showing his versatility as a writer by being able to showcase reads that across a wide range of subjects.  Inside the covers you'll find some stories that are dramatic and beautiful (in a creepy King way) and others that are really dark in nature.

Some additional favorites in the collection includes...
  • Batman and Robin Have an Altercation: Where a middle-aged man and his father (suffering from dementia) have an altercation with a violent driver...not really the Batman & Robin scenario I envisioned, but it worked out well.
  • Bad Little Kid: Which a man waiting to be executed tells his lawyer a story about a kid that tormented his life and hurt his loved ones...and the story becomes very sinister.
  • Morality: In this entry, a woman and her husband agree to commit an abomination in exchange of $200,000, which led me, as a reader, into a story of the perversion of the couple can't buy you happiness after all.
  • Afterlife: Here, a man dies and starts to tell us what comes after, which was an interesting story sharing a concept of death from the mind of King.
  • Under the Weather: Where a publicist has to deal with his stressful life while taking care of his wife that is sick in bed...offering a great ending.
  • Drunken Fireworks: A yankee and his mother (both alcoholics) becomes accidentally rich and each Fourth of July they spend a lot of money on pyrotechnics.  When they start a competition to see who can display the best show, it goes a little overboard and the characters were just over-the-top and great.
But as I said, there were plenty of great moments throughout the collection to please almost any reader.

Overall, I couldn't give the collection the 5-star rating I was hoping for, but that's a hard rating to get out of me, and I don't usually give out rating as high as a four.  And what helped to make the stories even better was the fact that each one contained a brief introduction from the author, providing a little insight as to why he wrote it and how it came to be, offering a more personal approach to each story.  This was something I haven't come across before, but it provided some great insight to help in the overall experience of reading each story.

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