‘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 mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. 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 is 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 Harry 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 hit 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 (P)2010 Simon & Schuster Audio division
"Full Dark, No Stars" is comprised of four novellas that each deal with individuals living the reality of the common fantasy question "What would you do if..." Each tale explores the darker side of human nature and involves the characters making morally grey (or sometimes utterly black) decisions that have lasting impacts on their own lives or the lives of others.
Whilst I understand King's interest in exploring this disturbing theme, I found the majority of the stories unoriginal, with the exception of one. "1922" basically boils down to the story of a man who becomes tired of his wife and kills her. Although the aftermath has supernatural elements, I found this story dragged on for too long and wasn't very intriguing. It was however quite grotesque, which is King all over.
"Big Driver" was a little more interesting, but still mostly unoriginal: a woman is raped and almost killed and decides she wants revenge on the man that abused her. The story was suspenseful at times and the finale was quite good. However no supernatural elements were present, which is not a bad thing from King. He has written a number of stories that don't have any ghouls and ghosts and they are marvelous to read. I guess I've come to expect more from King.
"Fair Extension" was the most enjoyable of the four stories. I put this down to the enigmatic character of Elvid and what he offers to Streeter, the main character: a life extension and reprieve from the cancer that is eating him from the inside. Of course there is a catch; Streeter must put the burden on someone else, someone he knows well. The story loses its intrigue from this point and ends all too abruptly with no real closure, which was a little frustrating.
"A Good Marriage" is the last tale and once again falls into the unoriginal category: a loving wife discovers her husband of 27 years is a serial killer. This story was one of those that the reader just wants to finish, but drags on for too long again. Quite uninspired.
As previously stated, I feel I have come to expect more from King with his story ideas. That supernatural element is what he uses best and whilst its absence from the majority of these tales could be viewed as a nice diversion from the norm, the book suffers because of it. The reason being that the stories aren't intriguing and due to their seen-it-before nature, there is nothing to keep the reader interested. At least it didn't keep this reader interested.
Stephen King takes a refreshing departure from the supernatural and fanciful, to take a tour of the darker parts of soul of the average everyperson. While "Full Dark, No Stars" consists of four seemingly unrelated tales, they are all wonderfully bound together in the unasked question, "what would you do?" While not all the stories get an equal amount of time to unfold, the first story "1922" almost overstaying it's welcome, they are all well-rounded and most importantly entertaining.
The two narrators do an admirable job with these tales of misfortune, greed and human frailty, however if I was to have one complaint it is that Jessica Hecht sometimes sounds a little too cheerful for the gravitas of the material.
These aren't stories that will chill you to the bone, but they are stories that will hang around in your mind long after the narration has ended.
"Wow - this is excellent!"
My first SK book and I'm looking out for my next as this was superb. All 4 stories were great but the 1st 2 were excellent and the 2nd my favourite. I was on tender hooks and thought it was just as edge of the seat as it would have been had it been on the screen, the narration is flawless, both narrators brought the stories to life and had me hooked.I suggested my son give this a go for his intro to audio and he's hooked now too! Even if you think you're not usually a SK fan you will be after this. One of my favourites now. Highly recommend.
I waited with a huge amount of anticipation for this book of short stories and boy was I not dissapointed. King has the most amazing talent for short stories and I have to admit that while I thouroughly enjoy his novels, I am most in awe of his collection of short stories.
Short stories is perhaps an incorrect discription,they are more like 4 novellas, each stand alone, and what makes them all the more thrilling is that they are about 'ordinary people in extraordinary situations' to quote Steve himself. And to be perfectly true, I could quite imagine actual ordinary people in these situations........perhaps this piece of work is art imitating life, which is very rare in the horror genre.
This is a first class piece of work and dare I say one of Kings finest creations and perhaps my most favourite of all.....early King at his best!!
Get it, even if your not a huge King fan, at least one of these novellas will make you stop in your tracks and wonder....
"All thriller no killer"
Don't start listening unless you are prepared to fake illness so you can keep listening without interruption for hours at a time. So people are having parties to which you're invited? So it's Monday morning and you have a job? So a giant centipede is crawling across the ceiling above your bed? Tough: you've started listening to this and you have to keep going. Great stories and great readers.
so far the only book ive actually listened to twice, absolutely loved it! strangely the darker it is the better and this most certainly is deep and dark.
Big driver, a tale of revenge, was my favourite, the narrator really made you see what was going on.
if you like really dark, tragic and a little gruesome and quite realistic stories, this is for you
"Brilliant, all of them"
The first story starts slow, but stick with it, well worth it. Great morals and very thought provoking. Enjoyed all of them.
"Another gripping "read"!"
Really good stories. I've always loved Stephen King, and this was no exception. I particularly enjoyed the lady take, really good end to the four stories.
"Short Stories At Their Best"
King's afterword sums up these stories very well, They are of varied length, the first a fair bit longer than the others. All have a tale to tell. Revenge, error and regret. A little supernatural in places but really relying on simple human nastiness for most of its impact.
The central act in the first story was memorable. A messy nasty business that rang of truth. Forbid that I ever see anything like it IRL.
Listened to Craig a couple of times. He has a slightly "smoky" voice. Impressed with Jessica first time I've heard her I think.
The third story - the lack of emotion of the main protagonist. Some people you meet will be like this! And you'd never know...
One of King's best books. Great modern short stories (not so short mind you) all with a ring of reality that is the most uncomfortable thing about them
"Thrillingly disturbing, each and every tale!"
As I said above disturbingly thrilling or something like that!no disappointment involved, fine chilling stories to ponder
"Another outstanding compilation"
This book contained 4 stories fabulously depicted that even as you read you can't help but want to see them on the big screen if ever a book was made for a movie this was it...
Gloriously dark tales that instantly have you hooked...
"A Little Lacking..."
I usually enjoy Stephen King's short story compilations, in fact my favourite King story is one his shorts, but these felt a little lacking, a little less interesting than previous volumes. The first felt very reminiscent of Dolores Claiborne, especially with the method of marital murder and disposal of the body, but it seemed less interesting and to have less thought put into it than Dolores Claiborne does.
I did not find the narration annoying, but it was rather the stories themselves that did not interest me to the usual degree that most of King's work does. I found the whole thing quite disappointing.
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