@JAyde, I have no problem with people wanting to make love, or have sex on a train or anywhere else, as part of coping with my genophobia, my lady and I read through both Alex comfort joy of sex books together, we've tried various things together and had conversations about what else we'd like to try.
My problem is more the way King always uses the most profane descriptions possible, and that these things come out of left field often in an unrelated situation.
had David been recalling his relationship with Willa and various memories of their lovemaking (or fucking if he thinks of it that way), and then! talked about what she'd wanted to do that would've been fine. Similarly, I can accept that some people get off on talking dirty even though neither my lady nor I do, however in King's case it just seems he puts these things in as almost a routine. Indeed, King almost seems the opposite of Koontz for this, since where the Koontz i've read tend to overdo the treacle and the niceness and tell you how good his characters are, King has to always stick in something a bit offf, usually sexual, as with the protagonist of "the thing's we left behind's" masturbation.
of course, a little of this with one or two characters would make sense and be true to life as you say, but King seems to do it with almost every character almost all the time, even in situations when it seems fairly inappropriate (since apart from that crass metaphor, Johnny in N struck me as an extreme rationalist).
On the dating thing in things left behind, I'm afraid I didn't think there was any meta commentary going on here, after all King as I said did very much the same thing in Joyland, though there it was from the other way around when Stewart's apparently female friend Erin, who was actually with Stewart's other friend at the time starts kissing him and is clearly attracted.
Okay read a couple more stories so thoughts coming up.
The cat from hell: which has to be the most god aweful title for a story King has ever come up with. Oddly enough, the story was actually rather good. Like several of King's stories, it literally does what it says on the tin. Its a purely schlocky, completely predictable and formula horror story with the subtlety of a chainsaw to the guts. I also thought it was awesome! Cats are bloody evil, and this cat had revenge in its mind. I particularly liked how King did almost camera cuts with each of the cat's murders, so by the time the hit man was heading off to peacefully do the cat in, we pretty much know what's coming. The genious part, is what is coming is described in such wonderfully splatterhouse detail, honestly towards the end when the cat was going for the guy's mouth I was thinking "your not really going to do cat alien are you?" and yes, indeed he is!
Okay, its basically a literary version of a mortal Combat fatality, and not a story that would have any long lasting value, but it did its job bloody well, pun most definitely intended.
The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates: Okay, had I read this story before getting married, I probably would've gone "well that was interesting," however the way King captures two people who know each other extremely well and obviously love each other has a really frightening realism to it, especially when reading it whilst in bed holding my wife and unable to sleep. I particularly liked the way James was just sort of vaguely resigned and having a fairly average phone call. Though very different in style and feeling, it reminded me strongly of Ray Bradberry's last night of the world.
the only miner niggle I have is that there were lose ends that I think King should've either expanded or snipped. For example James , mentions being unsure which door to go through in the station, and I wondered if that would relate to Anny somehow. Similarly, I really didn't quite get the ending, since while I got that James helped Anny avoid tragedies later, I didn't exactly get why she seemed to be ringing a new york times subscription company or what the title meant, which might just be me being dim.
So, while King got the mood and characters of this one absolutely right, scarily right in fact, either I'm not getting something or he should've tightened things up a little.
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.)