Took me long enough to get through this one. But my brain was not in a great place when I started, and I had to wait to read a bunch of freaky-deaky stories until my brain felt better. Which it did over the weekend, and I zoomed through this. Stephen King’s imagination is a wild place, especially Stephen King of fifty years ago (some of these stories were published in the 60’s, even though the book was published in 1978).
Some of the stories didn’t quite land, and some of them were clearly the work of a new writer, but many of them were bangers. One of them (“The Lawnmower Man”) was so weird I gave it five stars out of reflex and am still wondering how more people are not talking about how fucking bizarre it is constantly, even decades later.
I don’t normally like short fiction very much because I like spending long periods of time with characters, and getting really into detail about their lives and the worlds they live in, and most really good emotional payoff only comes when you spend time with a book, but King is really good at not just epic length books, and normal length novels and novellas, but short stories as well. King is a capital-‘S’ Storyteller, with an instinct for knowing what kinds of stories deserve what kind of treatment. Even in the stories that didn’t work for me, there wasn’t a dull moment in this collection where I wasn’t wondering, What happens next?
Other favorites in the collection: “The Boogeyman” (Is the Boogeyman a feminist?), “The Ledge” (a masterclass in suspense writing), “Quitters, Inc” (a foolproof way to quite smoking), and “The Man Who Loved Flowers” (a clever little story about murder and love). The only one I disliked was the last story in the book, and that’s only because I can’t read stories about people dying of cancer, and wish I would have skipped it.
[3.571 stars, rounded up for the overall experience]