@Mirage, I agree on perceptions of different things and access to books, I recently had to think about that myself when I reread and reviewed Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsinger for the first time in 17 years.
With the guy in boogieman, my issue is that in a lot of early King he seemed to mistake being a jerk with being an interesting character, sometimes to the detriment of the story. After all, horror stories are usually about something bad happening to someone, or someone close to someone.
Seeing something bad happen to a good, or at least relatively not arsy person is a tragedy, ditto with seeing something bad happen to their nearest and dearest. Likewise, seeing something personally bad happen to a total arse hole isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there is such a thing as karma, if not actually revenge.
My problem in Boogieman though, is basically you saw this total git who mistreated his wife, and possibly his kids too, and all the bad stuff happened to his kids. You couldn't feel entirely sorry for him because he was such an arse, indeed I feel far sorrier for his wife, though also relieved was finally able to divorce him in the end.
that was why that story didn't sit well with me. A story about sincerely good man who'd seen his children killed would be horribly tragic, while a story about an arse hole who got himself killed would be cathartic, unfortunately though with the focus of the story the main character being a git just didn't work for me.
Well I have read several more stories, so spoilage incoming.
I am the doorway: This one felt a bit slow and definitely falls into bad things happening to good people. I forgot this one since it was a wee bit unfocused and didn't make as much impression on me. An astronaut starts getting weird things on his hands after coming back from orbiting Venus which turn out to be eyes which are part of some kind of alien consciousness. I did enjoy the descriptions of the planet Venus and the implication of the alien thing possessing the chap, indeed the eyes growing out of his skin were wonderfully ghoulish. Not a story that stuck in my brain, but a nasty experience while it lasted.
Battleground: Okay this one feels more like a climax to a story than a fully finished item. A professional assassin kills A toymaker and in return gets a package containing a bunch of living toy soldiers who make war on him with miniture weapons.
Definite points to King for an original premise and a damnably nasty execution. I do wish the story had had a little more in it, EG I wasn't exactly sure whether the toymaker's mother was some sort of witch or what, but for sort of simple nasty experience it doesn't matter too much. My only issue with this one is that the nuclear device is just so 1970's. I really would've been more interested in seeing something a bit more inventive from King, though the final package label advertising to kids a free scale model of a thermo neuclear device was sort of amusing.
Trucks: Okay, this one has a bloody awesome premise and amazingly nasty stuff. Basically imagine a planet of the trucks with trucks becoming evil, also busses, bulldozers and other machines.
All of the stuff with the evil trucks and descriptions how they'd enslave humanity were pretty awesome, as were the gory deaths. The only major problem with this one is that character really took a back seat. Only one character was named, and everyone seemed pretty much just walking cutouts, the grizzled grumpy trucker, the wise counterman, even the emotionally unstable, bitchy girl. Heck, the main character was just basically a generically sensible cipher. Survival horror situations can be a majorly nice character study, putting a small group of people up against the wall and seeing how they react. King can definitely do this, look at books like Cell or stories like The Mist, but for some reason in trucks he contented himself with the most basic of cutouts, which caused the story to suffer as a result.
This is also one that ends pretty abruptly and feels more like a potential novel idea than a short story, indeed I'm sort of sorry that King never explored it later since a world taken over by evil trucks would be one I'd be interested to see.
Sometimes they come back: This definitely is up there with the mangler as one of my favourites in the collection. A teacher who saw his brother stabbed as a child by some neighbourhood bullies finds the bullies turning up in his class and realizes they're ghosts out for unfinished business.
This was definitely one with a likeable protagonist, and even an actually happy marriage for once, which made it so tragic. I particularly liked the slow way he revealed what had actually happened, and what the appearing ghosts really were.
The solution was also wonderfully wrong and showed a good man definitely going into something pretty dark, (the thought of slicing off index fingers makes me wince). The ambiguous ending also worked really well here too especially with how it ties into the title.
Strawberry spring: This is one of my lady's favourites. ~A psycho killer wanders around a university campus knifing girls during a weird weather cycle. The atmosphere in this one was what made the story, especially the descriptions of the fog and the rising hysteria on campus with each death. While the end was a wee bit predictable, at the same time the fact of just how short a story this was worked in its favour.
I confess I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as some others, since it was more a mood piece than anything for all it has the murders, but it was well done for all of that.
The ledge: Okay really liked this one. A tennis player goes to see a crime boss because he and the crime boss's wife are having an affair, the boss bets him he can't walk around a ledge 40 stories up. This one was brilliantly put together, actually the description of him moving around the ledge, the pain in the ankles and the danger of inconsequential things like gusts of wind or pecking pigeons was giving me long walk vibes.
The gut punch about what had actually happened to the boss's wife was nicely delivered.
My only miner issue here was the ending with the guy forcing the boss out onto ledge at gun point.
I really wish you'd seen the boss fall. Apparently in a film version made of this and a couple of other stories you do, but this is one where seeing the creep get his just desserts would've been really satisfying, especially seeing him fail at the task he put the poor guy through, and King could definitely have done a good enough job describing him plummeting to his doom.
I also slightly wish we learned a little more about the wife than just how she had a "lovely body", since hay, the tennis player was supposed to be in love with her, not just wanting to sleep with her, but again like the Long walk having love expressed only as sexual desire is a bit of a problem in Early King.
Next up is the lawn mower man, which I mostly remember because the Super nintendo game made of the film got some of the worst review ratings on the old games series games master I ever heard. The film was apparently pretty terrible too, though I've never seen it.
With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)