The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
Hodder & Stoughton (hardback), 2015
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
A thrilling collection of twenty stories – some brand new, some published in magazines, all entirely brilliant and assembled in one book for the first time – with a wonderful bonus: in addition to his introduction to the whole collection, King gives readers a fascinating introduction to each story with autobiographical comments on their origins and motivation.
The No. 1 bestselling writer has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of novellas and short story fiction since his first collection Night Shift was published. He describes the nature of the form in his introduction to the book: ‘There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience. It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like…a beautiful curio for sale laid out on a cheap blanket at a street bazaar.’
In The Bazaar of Bad Dreams there is a curio for every reader – a man who keeps reliving the same life, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries, a poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax. There are also intriguing connections between the stories; themes of morality, guilt, the afterlife and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.
Effervescent yet poignant, juxtaposing the everyday against the unexpected, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader as well as to those fascinated by the autobiographical insights in his celebrated non-fiction title On Writing.
‘I made them especially for you’, says King. ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’
‘You can’t come, his older brother said. (MILE 81)
WHAT I THOUGHT
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a really good collection of stories. King is a great story writer so I look forward to his collections – they’re usually little treasure troves filled with delicious treats. This collection contains three stories I’ve read before (Morality, Blockade Billy and Mile 81). I enjoyed Mile 81 much the same the second time around. The most surprising thing is that I enjoyed Blockade Billy a bit more and would give it a higher rating than my first read through. I’m still not impressed by Morality though. I got to read UR for the first time though and loved it and its Dark Tower overtones. I have a copy of UR unread on my kindle so will read the story again at some point. The collection contains two poems (The Bone Church and Tommy) which I thought were just okay. Poems aren’t King’s thing. The rest of the stories in this collection are really good. I absolutely loved The Little Green God of Agony, That Bus Is Another World, Obits, Drunken Fireworks and Summer Thunder. I also loved King’s little anecdotes before each story and poem giving insight into how each one came about. I love it when writers so stuff like that.
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a crackling collection of stories. Highly recommended.