I actually might be doing the Green mile relative soon I think, indeed that is one my lady and I might end up doing together long though it is.

we just finished The Mist this morning.
I can say on the one hand it was one of the most genuinely scary stories ever. The atmosphere, the mist itself, the old witch Mrs. Carmody who was just down right creepy. My lady who is a sane Christian and gets a little tired with fiction being so full of loopy Christians actually said she didn't mind Mrs. Carmody, as she wasn't so much a loopy Christian as just plane loopy over all big_smile.

The only thing I really! did not like in the Mist was actually the protagonist.

Beware! spoiling spoilers of mist spoilage ahoy!

He actually was a bully on frequent occasions, and was generally an arse to lots of people, and the occasion he goes upstairs to randomly sleep with Amanda the dizzy blonde was just plane irritating.
Given that it seemed to me he didn't really like his wife (he loved his wife, but I don't think he liked her much, actually she came across as rather typically nagging 1950's materialistic home maker woman), I could have seen David actually being friends with someone in a crisis, indeed my lady commented she wouldn't have minded him sleeping with hatty who was taking care of his son.

but the fact that basically he and Amanda shared nothing other than essentially "you look pretty" really didn't say much, in fact over all Amanda is probably one of the  worst female characters I've seen in King given that she had no personality or history, her chief characteristics seem to be looking blonde and pretty, and the main things she does in the plot are look pretty, sleep with the hero, cry, be hysterical and mmmm, look pretty big_smile.

It's a shame I really liked the story, I just wish I could've liked the characters more.

It also seemed king forgot about a few potentially interesting characters in the supermarket. There is a father with a little girl he  mentions once but then utterly forgets about, and I was expecting  mentions of the man who first comes out of the mist saying that he saw a friend of his killed.

I was a little surprised at the rather open ended ending, since I did wonder if you  at least get some idea of what has happened to the rest of the world given that once they got out of the supermarket I would've thought they might encounter some! people, if nothing else in the hotel where they are staying, but there you go, its left up to your imagination, actually I rather wonder if King was either planning a sequel or a tie in that never got written.
Whether the message on the radio at the end was indeed anything I suppose we'll never know.

On the plus side, probably one of the scariest king stories  have read to date with some truly! nasty evil insects.

Thumbs up

77 (edited by flackers 2017-08-01 16:07:51)

I think King's characters are well-drawn enough, they're just rarely very likeable. Unlike the likes of Terry Pratchett who was a genius at creating lovable characters, Stephen King's are often lacking in charm. For instance there was a lot about the Dark Tower books I really loved, and I liked Roland's character, but can't say I cared much for any of the others. Book two where he draws the three is my favourite of the series, but after that I thought the additional characters took away from the story as much as adding to it. It's no coincidence my second favourite of the series was Book 4 in which Roland revisits his youth before he met Eddie and co, and Book 1 is my third favourite, where apart from Jake who's practically the character equivalent of a rucksack, Roland is alone . For me what made the early story interesting was the idea of a lone wanderer on a mission; the last of his kind; something extraordinary. So by plucking these three new characters out of the air, who then become as good as Roland in five minutes, it slightly took away from Roland's whole raison d'etre. The way they were plucked was awesome, and possibly the most enthralling thing I've ever read, but he should have put them back afterward and carried on alone hahah.
By the way, I noticed just last night they've finally made a movie of DT. Based on the trailer, I think i'll avoid it.
Sorry, I read The Mist quite a while ago and can't really comment on it other than to say I thought the idea behind it was a good one, and I know I enjoyed it.

Thumbs up

Well King's creating likable characters has never been a problem for me,  personally I loved Eddy, Susanna and Jake as much as Rowland, indeed since Rowland is sort of a git I don't think I would've wanted to continue with him solo for too many books.

I was quite shocked where some of the characters ended up at the end of the sieres.

Actually speaking of Susana I liked the fact she  astonishingly competent though I didn't like the plotline with her in book six beware! spoiling spoilers of spoilage for dark tower!

I didn't think the plot about Susana becoming pregnant was really fair. While possession is a great thing to deal with, we'd already  that with Susana anyway handled really well and it always disappoints me when in books authors decide to  the principle plots for their female character revolve around love, romance, sex or pregnancy, especially when that female character is the only female character, and even more especially when the female character has a hole lot more going for her than just the fact she has two x chromosomes.
I had a similar issue with Beverly in It.

Thumbs up

Yeah, I suppose Roland's a bit of a ruthless arsehole: the sort I'd have little time for in real life. What he does to Jake at the end of book 1 is pretty shocking, but I remember thinking it was brave of King to have his hero behave so seemingly ignobly, abandoning a child in need the way he did in favour of his obsession. But I like Roland in the way I like the robotic gunslinger in Westworld. I also thought it was very brave of King to do what he did to Roland at the start of book 2. That must have took some guts to disable your star in such a way, but man was that a gripping opening as a result. Those lobstrosities were good monsters.

Thumbs up

I agree about Rowland, though to be honest it is the fact that Rowland is! such an arse which makes having others  around him who aren't more interesting.
it's actually a failing I've noticed in several more modern and less experienced writers *cough Richard Cadry cough* that they make their main character a complete and total douchenozle to make them cool, surround them with only slightly less scummy people, and either make their villains only slightly more nasty than the main character to the point I honestly don't care who wins, or make their villains so insaaaaanely! nasty they make Darth Vader look  like father of the year big_smile.

Grim, anxty, arsy characters are fine in moderation, but just like the opposite (as I mentioned with koontz earlier in this thread), you can certainly have too much of a bad thing big_smile.

That is something Stephen King actually learned in his career which I respect, indeed in a couple of his earlier books he rather goes over board with making everybody an alcoholic or a child molester or cheating on their husband/wife or something to the point you honestly don't care that much when they die grizly deaths (the tommyknockers was  this way from what I remember).

Thumbs up

81 (edited by flackers 2017-08-01 19:06:24)

Oh my God the tommyknockers. You spend what seems like a lifetime getting to know characters you couldn't give two craps about hahahah.
Hopefully you will care about the central character in the green mile though. He has a vulnerability about him that makes it hard not to be sympathetic and on his side.

Thumbs up

Well I've decided I'll finish skeleton crew before I start on The green mile with mrs. Dark.

Of the other stories I've read, the Monkey was a fairly nice workmanlike horror story with nothing really distinguished about it, not terrible, but not great either, about what you would expect of a story written about such a standard horror premise as an evil clockwork monkey.
One thing I did think was a bit off, is the story implied the main character was having problems  with his older son, but then in the climax you only ever see the younger one, I wondered if the story would have some nasty twist at the end or at least perhaps some sort of resolution but it felt a bit undefined, particularly since the main character wasn't exactly pleasant, albeit nicer than the one in the Mist.

Here there be tigers was an awesome story! one of those wonderful moments that captures just the sort of childhood fear you remember where there is something nasty and nobody believes you. I've heard it said that the short story is the purist form of horror, and Tigers proves why, particularly since at a bare ten minutes it's  one of King's shortest.

Raising Cane was a dreadful story. My lady suspects that the idea of someone shooting up an American university was probably more shocking back when the story was written before people started doing it for real. But either way there just wasn't really enough going with that one. Stories where the protagonist is a psycho tend to be fun when they let the reader get inside the psycho's head and go yuuuuuuuuuch! at some worrying ideas, in that story I honestly didn't really know why the guy wanted! to shoot people or what really the guy was thinking at all, hell the only vague logic behind it seemed to be that he'd failed his exam (and I'm not even sure about that since King never made it clear), so decides to go shooting people for no readily apparent reason.

We'll see what other stories have to offer.

Thumbs up

Okay I've now finished Mrs. Tod's short cut. While the stile was a bit slow and I got slightly sick of the narrator and the ever folksy American countrified language, the story itself was really rather sweet, especially with the implication at the end that Homer and Mrs. Tod would drive off together into the very alien blue yonder big_smile.

next up is The Jaunt, which I did read before as a solo story and ranks as probably one of the most horrific stories I've ever read.
I won't spoil the shock for those who haven't read it, but lets just say it involves a very nasty premise about teleporting and hits one of my personal worst fears ever!

Thumbs up

84 (edited by flackers 2017-08-05 21:39:53)

I loved Mrs Todd's shortcut. It's just a case of splendid writing. And also agree about the teleportation story. Really unnerving. Have you read The Langoliers? That's another really good King short/novella. As well as the ones already mentioned, some of my favourite shorts are: Quitters inc, The ledge, Lt's theory of pets, Children of the corn, Battleground, and the last rung on the ladder, which is a bit of a departure for King, and a really touching story.

Thumbs up

I've read the Langoliers, actually when the Rnib sent me four past midnight it was the only story I read as the next disk cocked up and they never replaced it. I had seen the miniseries first, and while the miniseries wasn't bad the book was of course better, though I'd like to read it again since Mrs. Dark really! dislikes Dyna, the blind girl in that story as she felt she was one of King's worst attempts at depicting a blind character going down very much the path of being both utterly useless and quite super powered at the same time.
I don't remember this for myself but would like to confirm, also to read the other stories in four past midnight.

Well I've continued with skeleton Crew. The Jaunt was indeed just as scary as I remembered even reading in the bath ;D.

The next story, The Wedding gig was okay, obviously an attempt by king as writing a period story  very much in twenties prohibition America with gangs and Jaz and such.

I enjoyed it more than I expected since I'm not really a huge fan of the hole organized crime thing, ---- or  period Jaz music for that matter. I sort of got annoyed how the narrator kept saying nasty thing about   the large girl getting married even when feeling sorry for her, it was rather back handed, particularly since he went  on to make some pretty heavy handed comments about race relations and comparing her situation to his black band mates which sort of felt a bit too moralistic, and indeed unfair to the lady in question, since we all know that yes being black in twenties America wasn't a nice thing, but that really wasn't what the story was about and I felt rather more sorry for the poor fat girl who'd just seen her brother get shot and who the narrator was still sneering at even as he was supposedly feeling sorry for her.

Maybe the racial thing would've made more sense to me if he made it more part of  the story  rather than a background thing he just complained about, but then the  story would've been longer  and I probably wouldn't have been as involved with it as I was since as I said neither Jaz nor organized crime, nor indeed prohibition is really my thing. I did like the ending though and where said rotund lady wound up, that was a surprise.

There then followed Paranoid, a chant which set up nicely but should really have had a bit more payoff, since while setting up that the narrator is a total nutcase it didn't really go very far, indeed there was one line towards the end that indicated some sort of conclusion but didn't resolve. It felt  like waiting for a package, then hearing a noise out side seeing the postman, then watching as he goes to another house big_smile.

King does individual creepy stream of consciousness very well in terms of thoughts, it's a major theme in lots of his books, the problem though is usually when it occurs it has some creepy happenings to back it up, where as here it really didn't.

Since I've already read the raft, next up is word processor of the Gods, one I'm really looking forward to as a good friend of mine recommended it years ago.

Thumbs up

I read skeleton crew quite a few years ago. It's funny, some stories I remember clearly, yet others I have no memory of at all.

Thumbs up

Fair enough Flackers, though that is actually one reason I'm noting the stories here with some thoughts since it's a handy way to remember them later.

I have now finished word processor of the gods. Apart from it being rather amusing to consider a time in which computerised word processors were the bees knees, I didn't actually enjoy the story as much as I expected from the friend of mine who read it and told me about it a while ago.

I think it would've worked for me firstly if the man's wife actually is shown to be a complete shrew as he describes her, much as the son is, but since the only time you see the wife it isn't the original version of her, part of me was thinking "hold on a minute is this a gentle man with a nasty wife, or a self righteous man who just says nasty things about! his wife"

King really should've given us more character in that one to make the ending pay off and less of the main character telling us how good and gentle he is and how much of a super bitch his wife is, since I honestly am not sure whether or not he deserved his fairy tale ending big_smile.

Thumbs up

Well a couple more stories now.
the man who wouldn't shake hands I really liked.
I don't know why sicne much like The Monkey it's sort of a workmanlike horror story in a classic gothic style, it was even mostly set in 1919 in a gentlemen's club with an evil Indian curse, but it just worked out really well, the build up, the characters.

I don't know if I'd want king to do that sort of stuff all the time but as a nice break it certainly was there. Apparently it is the sequel, and set in the same club as "the breathing method" from different seasons which I am now interested in reading.

Then there was beachworld. King should do sf horror more often, though I admit I probably liked this one because the idea of evil planets full of possibly sentient sand is a very doctor who one and thus right up my alley, also interesting in some of the cultural notes about a federation, and clans, and cyborg space captains on tank treds and androids and such, I am actually sorry we didn't see more of that world.

I also give King credit in that story for keeping me guessing as to will survive and who won't.
The only slightly sour note was  king seemed to be a bit gratuitous in making his main character slightly dislikeable, which probably shows it was an early King. For example when contemplating getting off the planet, the main character talks about his "honey" back in somewhere or other (fair enough), and then about his "Hardon" which really didn't need to be in there at all and basically read him more like a man who's  motivation did not come from his brain, and therefore not someone I really cared too much about despite the dehydration, panic and evil sands.
That is also why I suspect this as an early king story since it almost felt in several of his earlier books that he had to be adult and shocking just because he was king and that is what he did rather than if it actually served a purpose in the story or not.

Thumbs up

Well I have now got through a few more stories.

Reaper's image was a bit like the monkey, a rather creepy little gothic horror type story about an evil mirror. A standard story in lots of ways but the actual execution and what the mirror did was creepy enough for me to notice, also being a shorter story helped.

Nona was a seriously! worrying story. My lady really didn't like this one, I'm not sure since the sheer oddness and the casual murder really did something also I did feel sorry for the protagonist despite the murdering.
The only major flaw was the end of the story Beware! spoiling spoilers of spoilery doom!
king tries to suggest that it's all in the protagonists' mind but there were a few too many bits earlier on in which nona had a bit too concrete a presence to make it realistic that the protagonist just dreamed her up, eg, when she flags down the slimy businessman with the car and when she hands the main character a nail file  to give said slimy businessman a good stabbing.

For Owen was a cute little two minute attempt at uneasiness and rather silly really. While I appreciate the idea of King trying to write for his son, trying to combine slightly surreal, unsettling horror with a sort of sesame street idea  didn't exactly work, or at least not in so short a peace with nothing really by way of plot anyhow.

The next story was survivor type, a really! disturbing tale of an unpleasant doctor stuck on a small desert island.
this one was down right nasty, very ghoulish, and actually quite awesome in a down right nasty and absolutely ghoulish way, the sort of horror story that really leaves you shuddering just from it's concept.

It reminded me slightly of misery, but in an hour of short story it worked really well, particularly since you are always wondering that the guy is desperate to survive, but ultimately what for?

Thumbs up

90 (edited by flackers 2017-08-08 14:34:40)

Again, it's funny I don't remember any of those stories except survivor type, which I remember quite well. Not wishing to be the sort of person who poo-poos the feasibility of story ideas, I'm quite happy for fiction to exercise a bit of creative license, and Survivor Type is just a damn good tale, but it reminded me there's a vsauce video in which Michael tries to answer the question of whether it would make sense to do what the surgeon in survivor Type did. Rewatching it a second time, it's the least satisfying of the subjects/explanations in the video. He also addresses the viability of a Ringworld type scenario. Don't think he's the first geek to poke holes in Larry Niven's most famous work though heheh.

Thumbs up

Lol Flackers, I  actually suspected the answer to the auto cannibalism question, but it's fun to have it confirmed, though in defense of King I don't think Dr. Richard Pine was exactly the worlds' most rational of people, and I doubt his decisions were based on any sort of calm totting up of calories vs effort.

Well I've now done the next story in the collection Uncle Otto's truck.
this one I thought was a pretty usual standard gothic horror story of the form "person is afraid of thing x, everyone thinks person is crazy, thing X finally gets person, everyone finds out too late that person X was not crazy"

What however made it for me was the way! the thing in question got the person.
Beware! spoilery spoilage of doom!

With the title and the previously mentioned murder by truck crushing I suspected I knew how Otto was going to get his just deserts, but the actual method employed is really! macabre, from the body full of oil to the sparkplug in the mouth. I give King a lot of credit here  setting up something I absolutely know is coming, and then making it weirder and nastier when it arrives big_smile.

Thumbs up

Never let rationale get in the way of a demented act.

Thumbs up

Very true especially when writing horror fiction.
Well I have done a few more stories, actually only two more to go.
first off is the milkman parts one and two.
Part one was rather fun in a macabre, surreal way though very short.
Beware! here comes some spoiled milk big_smile.

This one really qualifies as black humour and though short and a bit aimless, I took it more as a  or portrait of a psycho than anything else, actually  form if not in style it reminded me  some of Angela Carter's writing (I finished a complete collection of her short fiction recently). Plus it lead me to make some wonderfully grim jokes while making coco for my lady.

Sadly, the milkman part two, big wheels was not half as good. The portrait of three not particularly pleasant guys getting roundly drunk together was sort of entertaining in a gross way, but I didn't really see the point of the story beware! spoilers ahoy.

The idea  Rocky, the laundry worker's wife had run away with the psycho milkman from the previous story was sort of odd, and I didn't really get why the mechanics murder of his wife was only mentioned in a very casual in passing. Likewise, I'm really not sure on the ending or what I'm supposed to think since while the implication is that the psycho milkman caused the guys to have a car crash, since they were planning to kill him anyway this wasn't such a bad thing, and given that Rocky came across as a total Douchebag anyway, I can't really blame his wife for wanting to leave him even if he wasn't as murderous as his mechanic pal.
All the stuff about the third guy's "hole in the back" also seemed to go no where, though whether it was just drunk talk I'm not sure. all in all a roundly pointless story.

The third story on the other hand Grandma was absolutely awesome! Not only does King  an eleven year old protagonist very well, but I also loves how he plays with you in this one. There are times you think the boys old sick grandma is just  normal senile old lady, and the protagonist George's struggle with himself felt very real.
The conclusion was an absolute gut punch!

it is odd, if you'd told me the premise of this story I really wouldn't have thought much to it, since after all corpses and witchy old ladies are rather flat horror wise, but King does such an amazing job with this one (the description of the old lady actually reminded me of the Hansel and Grettle scene from It). The ending is completely a gut punch!

What is doubly amazing is since currently my lady's own father is extremely ill, living with her sister and proving difficult to look after , I did wonder if I'd find the subject a wee bit close to home, particularly since as a child I did occasionally look after my own extremely disabled sister while my parents were out. But King is a far better author than I thought here and he had more up his sleeve in this story than just "ooooh! sick people are sooooo gross"

So there we are, the good, the bad and the rather pointless big_smile.
I actually  sharing my thoughts as I read stories.
Though I do write book reviews fairly seriously, I don't review short story collections since even in a collection by the same author stories can be of radically different qualities and the only way to be fair would be to review each and every story individually, which manifestly is usually impractically, but just informally saying what I thought here is  I like to do, and it'll stand me in good stead when I read more King shorts in the future.

of course, probably tomorrow my lady and I will also be starting The Green Mile, which I'll likely  a formal review for, though I might come back here  do some casual chatting about it too.

Thumbs up

Well I've now finished the last two stories in skeleton Crew, The ballad of the flexible bullet and The reach.

flexible bullet I did rather like. The start is ponderous and most of the people at the cocktail party are just place holders really to react to the story the old editer is telling, but the story he tells is quite a unique one.
I did spot some typical kingisms,  like the obsession with writers and writing, though some of the observations about madness were fun.

Beware! spoiling spoilers ahoy!

One thing I found a little odd was that King  randomly imply the little boy was controlled by something perhaps the evil Fornits, however he just seemed to be behaving like a typical sadistic six year old brat, indeed while Redge the writer  waaaay over board with shooting at the kid, not to mention shooting his wife twice, I  can't blame him for getting irritated when he sees a child behaving like a monster upon finding a helpless alien creature.

One thing I did find a bit odd in this story as well was the way he dealt, or didn't deal with women, at the cocktail party though he names both women (and interestingly enough not the men), they are still only talked about in narration as "the writer's wife" and "the agent's wife" which was a little off, especially since he makes the point of how nice a person the writer's wife is.

Similarly, Jayne, Redge the insane author's wife we're told a lot about that is admirable, in particular how she loves her husband, however other than doing laundry and writing pleading letters to the editer on her husbands' behalf we didn't really see her do much or have a lot of personality of her own, which contrasted rather oddly with how much she was talked about.

This in fairness is something I've seen with some of Kings' female characters, but it struck me as odd here given how much of a  part Jayne plays in the story.

The reach was cute, and surprisingly gentle for King. There is something though that troubles me about the story and it took me a while to put my finger on it. It is almost too! folksy for it's own good. The hole "the island takes care of its own" and all the "this is cousin Jo who's mother I knew" the insularity, even down to when the ghosts turned up I actually found a little more unsettling just in terms of how  and completely inward looking it is, especially with how King tells us that the people on the island are quite happy to murder physically handicapped babies just as readily as child molesters.

Maybe its me I don't know, but I've always found that "this place looks after its own, the local geographical feature of note is in person x's bones, all the men have  same job like their fathers before them and all the women exist to look after the homes like their mothers" a bit disconcerting, if not actually slightly repellent.

Then again for someone who grew up in a large city and then moved  a large university and now has friends all over the country maybe its just an environmental difference.

And that wraps it up for Skeleton crew. I'll probably stick another king short story collection onto my victor soon enough next time I'm in the mood for some short horror, since  I didn't like everything, there was some good stuff here.

Next up, later today my lady and I will start the green mile,  I'll likely save my comments on  until we've finished it.

Thumbs up