Everything’s Eventual is a collection of fourteen stories, all of which were published in the ’90s or very early 2000s. Occasionally that comes through with halting references to email or other tech stuff of that era, but for the most part the stories are somewhat timeless. Quality-wise they are a mixed bag, as I suppose all short story collections are. I’ve been reading this collection inbetween other books for a few months new, so in writing this review I struggled to remember what the lesser stories were even about. On the whole, this is not as strong as Night Shift, the only other King collection I have read, but there are a few stone-cold classics that make Everything’s Eventual worth a read.
In full disclosure, I did skip one story in this collection, “The Little Sisters of Elluria”, because it ties in to the Dark Tower series and I have not yet read any of them.
The title story is a highlight, featuring a first-person narrator slowly revealing the nature of his mysterious employment and the supernatural talent that enables it. The title itself is a humorous mantra the narrator has taken from a dim-witted co-worker, and King’s deployment of it is a clever touch.
“All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” is the kind of story that keeps me coming back to King’s work. It’s a strange idea you can’t imagine anyone else doing something with, and while it could have been ridiculous, King makes something devastating out of a traveling salesman who’s only hobby is collecting the absurd writings he finds on truck-stop bathroom stall walls.
King ordered the stories at random by dealing out playing cards 2-A, so it’s just a coincidence that most of my favorite stories are clustered near the end. I really enjoyed five of the last six stories, with the disappointing “1408” being the only exception. That story’s premise of a uniquely haunted hotel room has a lot of potential but King’s deployment of it felt lacking. As for the other five, they include my ultimate favorite of the collection, “Riding the Bullet”, which is utterly captivating and inimitably creepy.
As you’d expect, some of the stories are extremely odd. “Lunch at the Gotham Cafe” never bothers to explain the insanity at its center, but is all the eerier for it. “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French” is a well-executed piece of horror. The collection closes on a grace note in “Luckey Quarter”, in which a chambermaid’s unusual tip has surprising consequences.
While not essential King, Everything’s Eventual will satisfy any Constant Reader.