Well threadcromacncy is because my lady and I have been reading King again.
She fancied doing a few of her favourite King short stories, and since they were all from Nightmares and Dreamscapes, I thought I might as well finish the book, so as has become sort of standard in this topic I'll mention what I thought of each, though of course if you've not read Nightmares and dreamscapes spoilers ahoy.
Crouch end: The first story my lady and I read together (especially because I have an awesome audio version by Tim curry).
this one has nostalgic associations for me, since a friend of mine read it to me at university as a great example of that sort of reality bending, King/lovecraft style horror.
A really awesome story, even if I do wince sometimes at the Englishisms King gets wrong: EG I don't think anyone over here would describe an attractive young woman as "A pretty little hen and nobody in Britain has called someone who isn't there actual mother "mum" since about 1950 .
Likewise, I had to be amused when someone referd to "Two and five" on a modern taxi meater, meaning two pounds five pence.
Still all that aside, a wonderfully creepy story with an amazingly nasty ending, I also love the way Tim Curry says Cthulhu. The only thing that I didn't quite get is why the monster didn't munch the woman along with her husband, just left her sitting there and terrified, which very scary, but not explained, then again while I know the goat with a thousand young is a standard Cthulhu mythos monster I'm not exactly sure about how it is supposed to operate.
We then read the rainy season, which I have disturbingly read by Yardly smith, yes! Lisa simpson reads horror.
I loved how amusingly standard the setup was in this one, the young couple coming to the town, being warned off about the rain of toads etc. Its one of these that is so blatant it was funny, though I do wish that the couple had been nicer to each other, King says they're very much in love, but basically most of what we see of them doing together is snipe at each other due to motorway rage. Yee gods the final conclusion was hell of disturbing! I don't think I'll think of toads the same way again, then again I admit I'm a sucker for a good monster if its described in nasty details, and King doesn't disappoint here.
Oh and having it read by Lisa Simpson was even disturbinger .
I then started reading the stories from the actual book:
Dolan's Cadillac" a rather amusing revenge story. It went on a bit too long for my taste, though the paralells to poe made me laugh, albeit since you could pretty much see where this was going a mile off it did rather drag in the middle, though King's description of someone literally half killing themselves just to bury someone alive was amusing.
"The End of the Whole Mess", This one I found quite worrying for several reasons, particularly since in my darker moments I've actually thought having humanity exit the planet stage left wouldn't be a bad thing. The end was very poignant, and even though the politics of the world going to hell was way off (comunist Mexico?), The bit about the wall across callifornia made me wince.
Not a bad apocalypse story, albeit not King's best.
"Suffer the Little Children", again this one I liked for having a very gray protagonist who went completely bonkers. Where as King's previous attempts to do stories about school shootings didn't work too well, this one got the right amount of fear plus unpleasantness.
I actually liked in this one how I wasn't exactly sure whether to be on the teacher's side or not, and even at the end when she'd completely gone off the deep end and was suspecting all children of being evil whatever they were, I still felt a bit sorry for her, and to say at the start of the story she comes across as just the sort of self important power mad teacher you really hated when you were at school that isn't half saying something.
"The Night Flier", A nasty reporter tracks down a vampire who kills by plane. Ironically in this one, the fact that the protagonist is basically a sociopath worked slightly against the story, since I honestly didn't care when he ran into trouble, though I was amused that the vampire left him alive at the end but removed all evidence.
The highlight though i think was the idea of a vampire invisible in a mirror peeing bloody urine, its so wonderfully gross and bizarre and uniquely King!
Not the best story in the collection, but not the worst either.
Popsy: This one was amazingly awesome! I wouldn't have assumed that you could write a story about child kidnapping, and at least implied child sex slavery that made me laugh, but King succeeded, I loved the bit where the vampire grandpa complained that he just wanted to buy his grandson some Ninja turtle figures .
My only criticism is it was really badly placed in the collection, since having it immediately after night flyer automatically makes you think of vampires, where as if it had been at another point the mystery of who and what the boy's "popsy" actually was would've been better preserved.
It grows on you: Okay, worst story in the collection by far. Lots of rambling remniscence from a group of old men in Castle rock about supposedly an evil house, or maybe an evil wife, or possibly an evil guy who killed his evil wife, I'm not really sure.
This had some disturbing imagery (the bit where the old man remembers the wife showing herself to him as a young boy is really flesh crawling and genuinely nasty stuff), but in general this one read like a set of clip notes, character background and history than a real story, heck I wasn't even sure who the main character was or what point the history was supposed to show. I suspect its unfinished stories like this which give King the reputation of someone who thinks he can publish his laundry list and people would buy it.
"Dedication": Another very good, if extremely disgusting story, the sort of creepy old witchy ladies which King can do so well.
My only miner gripe about this one, was the part that Martha told everyone that the right douchenozle of a writer was "quality", and defended him, even though he was a total scumbag, it probably have been more effective if she'd just stuck to the fact he was a good writer who could write beautiful things despite! being a racist bigoted arse hole.
I actually wonder if there is a little personal justification here, since while I certainly don't think King is a snooty racist arse like that writer, I do get the impression sometimes that in person he's not an especially nice person.
Heck I've heard that about several writers, that they're arse holes in person but write wonderfully.
Oh and the bit with the sperm was absolutely disgusting, but the best sort of disgusting, disgusting in a good cause, though I did appreciate King was rather delicate with that.
The moving finger: Okay this one was good, though I didn't really like the way that the supposedly nice guy spoke about his wife. he was fond of her, despite repeatedly describing her as "dumb" or "fat" or something else.
That being said, the horror here was amazingly awesome, and wonderfully nasty, plus it shows I'm not the only person who's thought of something nasty coming out of sink dranes. Its something King seems to like since he also has it happen in It, but the finger here wonderfully horrible.
Usually I am less keen on stories that end on a cliffhanger which you know won't be resolved, but this one worked for me, particularly with how you weren't exactly sure what the poor police officer would find in the toilet.
Sneakers: Okay I liked the setup in this one with the ghost and the music business, but I am not exactly sure about King's portrayal of homosexual characters, particularly the assistant. This was also one where he seemed to be dragging his feet slightly in the middle, though I liked the idea in the end that the ghost, the supp[osedly nasty corpsified ghost was actually trying to warn him off the music producer.
Home delivery: This one was fun. King doing zombocalypse and having great fun with it, especially with the wonderfully laconic way the people on the island took everything, though the "Oh what what old bean" british Astronomer was sort of amusingly overthetop .
I actually wonder if Max Brooks read this one, since some of the American and comunist china responses to the zombies definitely gave me a rather amusing world war z vibe.
I would've liked to know what the worms and the alien satellite were and how they tied into the Zombi thing, but I suppose short stories are there to make you wonder.
the only issue I had with this one, is King takes so much time at the start to basically show the main character ass so traditionally and passively feminine to the point where she can't even make basic decisions for herself, then leaves her half way through the story to cut to the manly island men's manly fight against the zombies.
Yes, she gets to slay her husband's zombie at the end, but this didn't really go far enough for me. Indeed, while I don't particularly enjoy reading about domestic abuse, this is one where if King had made her husband a nasty piece of work and had her slay his zombie corpse at the end it would've been more satisfying than having her husband be a nice guy and her basically survive the attack. Actually, to say the title was "home delivery" and a lot was made of the fact that she was pregnant, I was a bit surprised the story ended abruptly.
Probably one that would've been more satisfying as a longer piece I think.
My pretty pony: Basically a long philosophical discourse by a grandpa to his son about time.
A cute idea, albeit I don't necessrily agree with king that all adult time is automatically faster than time when your a child, however I was sort of waiting for the sting in the tale and never got one, especially strange given how King takes time to introduce the boy's sister as an abusive git, and his mother as an alcoholic.
Again, this one feels more like a piece of a novel than an actual short story, nicely done and interesting yes, but not really with enough direction to stand alone.
Sorry right number: Once I got used to the screen play format I did enjoy this one, I particularly liked the various fake outs and how King for once actually wrote a nice couple who got on with each very well (something needed for the story to work).
I admit I did see the tragic ending coming a mile off, and the second the story had a time skip I knew what was going to happen, but then again as a life long Whovian I'm sort of trained to spot predestination paradoxes.
The ten O.clock people: I enjoyed this one quite a lot, definitely an interesting premise, lots of fun and ironic descriptions of smokers (and that from someone who can't abide smoking), and yee gods the bat creatures were nasty. The only thing I didn't really like was the random way the main character (despite supposedly loving his wife and daughter), kept talking about how "sexy" the blonde woman myra was. Again, attraction is fair enough, but the attraction here seemed to go a bit further and when King started mentionning him being "jealous" when he saw she had a boyfriend already I sort of in headdesk mode. Then again, confusion over finding someone attractive and going off to sleep with them, or at least wanting to is something King struggles with else where, plus of course King doesn't seem to think men and women can be friends without! some form of attraction so I probably ought to just expect it.
My only other problem with this one, is that even more than home delivery this one felt far more the start of a novel than a stand alone short story. Sometimes cliffhanger endings work in short stories, sometimes they just leave you thinking "hay why didn't you finish writing that!" and ten O.clock people is definitely the latter case.
The house on maple street: Its significant that the children in this are called "Bradbury" since I'm fairly sure this was a tribute. I loved how we got an idea of each of the four kids personalities. I do wish the eleven year old girl had been less prone to cry, and make the big brother automatically in charge but hay the story isn't a modern one. This was actually one where you could see where things were going from half way through, but didn't mind since the execution so fascinating, especially with how likable the characters were.
the step father was a total douchemonger, but then again he needed to be for the story to work, and while on the one hand the idea of someone who gets pissed at his wife for fainting and ruining his party is sort of off the scale as far as callousness goes, at the same time I can't deny there aren't people like that out there, and the implications of the emotional abuse were really unpleasant, making it all the more satisfying when he got what was coming to him.
The fifth quarter: Okay I know King has always wanted to write crime, but this story sort of shows why he shouldn't. While the writing was very immediate, the subject, four mobsters who have a map to buried money sounds like the of god knows how many crime films.
On the other hand, I did like the way King made each of the mobsters unique, and I was amused at the trick with the scarecrow. So, not a bad story, but not really astounding either, then again I will freely admit that I'm not myself %100 a fan of mobster or crime fiction so its possible I'm more down on this one than others might be.
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.)