"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. Violated 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.
When her husband of more than 20 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.
Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.
©2010 Stephen King. All rights reserved. (P)2010 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved
"[T]hese tales show how a skilled storyteller with a good tale to tell can make unsettling fiction compulsively readable." (Publishers Weekly)
"King has gone on record saying he believes that American readers should pay more attention to the virtues of short fiction... if anyone can get reluctant short-story and novella readers into the swing, he certainly can with this book." (Booklist)
I agree with everything that Ron (an earlier review) said. OK stories, not Kings best, but still King. I too had a hard time with the readers, the book version would have been better. Audio is tough like that. An unpleasant reader can ruin even the best book.
Many of Stephen King's stories scare me, but few horrify me the way these stories did. I found myself stopping my iPod a few minutes into two of the stories, and it was a couple days before I could bear to go back to them ... but the phobic attraction of King's well-shaped narrative drove me back as surely as the subject matter drove me away.
However, I found Jessica Hecht's narration to sharply undercut the two stories she performed. Although she developed distinctive voices for the characters, her tone was so chirpy that I swear I could HEAR her smiling as she read, and more than once I imagined bluebirds of happiness flitting around my earbuds as I listened. Her tone was much like the one you'd use to read the narration of Lemony Snicket books to children under the age of 8. It was so grating when placed up against very stark and dark prose.
But you'll note that not even a cheerful, chirpy reading of murderous and grisly scenes could tear me away from the stories. King's knack for turning off the lights on the everyday world to show the glow of monsters from within our otherwise familiar surroundings and people kept me "turning the page" and looking forward to every spare minute I had to let the stories unfold a little more, a little more, a little more.
I'm eyeing my neighbors a little more suspiciously this week. I wonder why ...
Say something about yourself!
These are some of the best stories King's done in a long time. They are all riveting. Oh yeah, and watch out for the rats.
I would have enjoyed the two from the woman's point of view even more than I did if the narration had been better. Jessica Hecht seemed to have been told by someone that she should smile while she read, a technique that really didn't work. I don't know if she thought the heroines were stupid, but she seemed almost to be mocking them, especially in the last story. The listener who described her as burbling and baby-talking really captured it. It's too bad, because both the characters could have been read as much more grown-up and intelligent people, and I wondered several times what they would sound like in my "mind's ear" if I was reading instead of listening. Craig Wasson, on the other hand, was very convincing as both characters, though they were quite different from each other.
Stephen King has spent years perfecting female characters. In the early days someone made the remark that he couldn't write a strong female character between the ages of 7 and 107. Happily, that has changed in recent years and he has produced some good female characters. The reading of the two female leads in this book did a huge disservice to the stories. Frankly, I thought the character of Darcy sounded like some little housewife straight out of the 50s without a brain in her head. Unfortunate, as it was a very good story.
A few times I was actually scared out of my pants!!!!! I love King and he does his readers well. I would suggest to anyone who is a fan of his.
I only finished with the first story, but it is very scary and nerve racking. It is much like an Edger Alain Poe story of the hunting of a guilty man driving himself to ruin. Love it so far, Very scary. Looking forward to the rest, hope they are as good as this one.
All four of the stories in this book are worth the read. Some are better than others. Both stories read by Jessica Hecht were good stories but her narration is very poor in my opinion. Her voice is just plain weird. When she speaks as the character, her voice is lilting and it makes her character sound stupid and flighty.
This is the first book I have listened to with a woman a narrator. I thought at first that perhaps I just needed to get used to it but in the end, I realized it was her, not me.
Jessica sounded way to happy and up tight. Some parts of the book that were really scary and awful....she sounded like she had a smile on her face when she read it. It was strange. Craig was awesome! Just like he was in 11/22/63.
No, only half of the narration and stories were Stephen King quality
I love to listen to Craig Wesson his performance made the first story full, colorful and intriguing. His voice is like a fine wine with a good meal. Jessica Hecht's voice is way to sweet to be palatable.
I miss Roland, the Gun Slinger series
Stephen King always writes strong, capable women. This is something I really appreciate about King. However, the female narrator portrays the women in these stories as weak, high voiced ninnies. It is disconcerting and draws away from the intended characters.
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