Stephen King -- who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies -- delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.
Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating -- and then terrifying -- journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable -- and resourceful -- as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.
Just After Sunset -- call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.
Part of the Honeymoon Reads Collection
Starred Review. In the introduction to his first collection of short fiction since Everything's Eventual (2002), King credits editing Best American Short Stories (2007) with reigniting his interest in the short form and inducing some of this volume's contents. Most of these 13 tales show him at the top of his game, molding the themes and set pieces of horror and suspense fiction into richly nuanced blends of fantasy and psychological realism. The Things They Left Behind, a powerful study of survivor guilt, is one of several supernatural disaster stories that evoke the horrors of 9/11. Like the crime thrillers The Gingerbread Girl and A Very Tight Place, both of which feature protagonists struggling with apparently insuperable threats to life, it is laced with moving ruminations on mortality that King attributes to his own well-publicized near-death experience. Even the smattering of genre-oriented works shows King trying out provocative new vehicles for his trademark thrills, notably N., a creepy character study of an obsessive-compulsive that subtly blossoms into a tale of cosmic terror in the tradition of Arthur Machen and H.P. Lovecraft. Culled almost entirely from leading mainstream periodicals, these stories are a testament to the literary merits of the well-told macabre tale. (Nov.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Not a true Stephen King fan
Posted January 05, 2010 by Nathan , San FranciscoI admit that I'm not a true Stephen King fan. In fact, I never really got into his books. However, I read a review in the Wall Street Journal and I decided to give the book a chance. I'm so glad I did. Each story and each character was told in such detail that I felt I was living each one.
A truly excellent book that I highly recommend.
2 . Stephen King's Return to Short Stories is an early Christmas gift
Posted November 16, 2008 by Richard J. Russell , Johnstown PAI have read a lot of Stephen King's works over the years and consider him to be the best descriptive writer in my experience. When King describes a location or a smell, you are there.
The current collection of short stories did not disappoint. His tale of compulsive behavior in "N" was chilling and " A Very Tight Place" was among the best short stories I have ever read.
Live long and keep writing Stephen King. The world is a better place through your writing.
November 10, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Just After Sunset by Stephen King
Not a very nice man.One afternoon not long after July became August, Deke Hollis told her she had company on the island. He called itthe island, never the key.Deke was a weathered fifty, or maybe seventy. He was tall and rangy and wore a battered old straw hat that looked like an inverted soup bowl. From seven in the morning until seven at night, he ran the drawbridge between Vermillion and the mainland. This was Monday to Friday. On weekends, "the kid" took over (said kid being about thirty). Some days when Em ran up to the drawbridge and saw the kid instead of Deke in the old cane chair outside the gatehouse, readingMaximorPopular Mechanicsrather thanThe New York Times, she was startled to realize that Saturday had come around again.This afternoon, though, it was Deke. The channel between Vermillion and the mainland -- which Deke calledthe thrut(throat, she assumed) -- was deserted and dark under a dark sky. A heron stood on the drawbridge's Gulf-side rail, either meditating or looking for fish."Company?" Em said. "I don't have any company.""I didn't mean it that way. Pickering's back. At 366? Brought one of his 'nieces.'" The punctuation fornieceswas provided by a roll of Deke's eyes, of a blue so faded they were nearly colorless."I didn't see anyone," Em said."No," he agreed. "Crossed over in that big red M'cedes of his about an hour ago, while you were probably still lacin' up your tennies." He leaned forward over his newspaper; it crackled against his flat belly. She saw he had the crossword about half completed. "Different niece every summer. Always young." He paused. "Sometimestwonieces, one in August and one in September.""I don't know him," Em said. "And I didn't see any red Mercedes." Nor did she know which house belonged to 366. She noticed the houses themselves, but rarely paid attention to the mailboxes. Except, of course, for 219. That was the one with the little line of carved birds on top of it. (The house behind it was, of course, Birdland.)"Just as well," Deke said. This time instead of rolling his eyes, he twitched down the corners of his mouth, as if he had something bad tasting in there. "He brings 'em down in the M'cedes, then takes 'em back to St. Petersburg in his boat. Big white yacht. ThePlaypen. Went through this morning." The corners of his mouth did that thing again. In the far distance, thunder mumbled. "So the nieces get a tour of the house, then a nice little cruise up the coast, and we don't see Pickering again until January, when it gets cold up in Chicagoland."Em thought she might have seen a moored white pleasure craft on her morning beach run but wasn't sure."Day or two from now -- maybe a week -- he'll send out a couple of fellas, and one will drive the M'cedes back to wherever he keeps it stored away. Near the private airport in Naples, I imagine.""He must be very rich," Em said. This was the longest conversation she'd ever had with Deke, and it was interesting, but she started jogging in place just the same. Partly because she didn't want to stiffen up, mostly because her body was calling on her to run."Rich as Scrooge McDuck, but I got an idea Pickering actuallyspendshis. Probably in ways Uncle Scrooge never imagined. Made it off some kind of computer thing, I heard." The eye roll. "Don't they all?""I guess," she said, still jogging in place. The thunder cleared its throat with a little more authority this time."I know you're anxious to be off, but I'm talking to you for a reason," Deke said. He folded up his newspaper, put it beside the old cane chair, and stuck his coffee cup on top of it as a paperweight. "I don't ordinarily talk out of school about folks on the island -- a lot of 'em's rich and I wouldn't last long if I did -- but I like you, Emmy. You keep yourself to yourself, but you ain't a bit snooty. Also, I like your father. Him and me's lifted a beer, time t