I finished Just After Sunset by Stephen King right before Christmas. I have to say I loved it. Mr. King has re-discovered that old familiar voice we devoted fans of his love to hear.
The stories are smart, funny, poignant and relevant. Even the final story, as disgusting as it was. The thing with King, when he is at his best, (and I would have to say Just After Sunset is representative of some of his best work in a long, long time), is that he draws you into the story effortlessly. Once there, you feel as though you know these characters, these situations. And that’s because you can relate them to your own experience, your own deep, dark thoughts and hidden fears. It’s a fun ride.
Of the thirteen stories that comprise this collection I’d have to say my favorites are:
The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates
The Things They Left Behind and
The Gingerbread Girl
Each of these stories touched a personal chord within me, that made me sit back and think: “yeah, exactly” or made me shudder with the very real possibility that there but for the grace of God . . .
I particularly liked Willa, because I could see myself in her. The practical, logical, let’s just face this situation for what it is attitude she has, and, of course, it’s a nice little love story. The writing in this one is tight, clear and unsentimental, but at the same time very evocative of the emotions people in such a sad situation would experience. Highly recommended.
The Gingerbread Girl is just a great survival story. It’s exactly what we would imagine we would do in a situation like that. (Whether we could pull it off like the heroine in the story is doubtful, still the imagination likes to think we could.) I just loved this one.
Ayana has shades of The Green Mile all over it. It’s a gentle story about kindness and paying it forward and just what that costs. The writing is superb.
The Things They Left Behind, although a little ‘out there’ for me was wonderfully written and a take on 9/11 that I hadn’t read before. King captures beautifully that sense of hopelessness some of the survivors of that terrible day experienced. It’s a tale of atonement and personal guilt when neither is justified.
And, although I didn’t mention it in my favorite’s list I’d have to say the end story, A Very Tight Place, has stayed with me. It’s full of the usual themes, guilt, fear, hatred, madness, over-wrought emotion, violence and the imagination’s desire to do nasty, nasty things to people we can’t stand or understand. Suffice it to say it’s a great, satisfying, albeit yucky, read.
Anyway, I hope you’ll give this collection of short stories a try. If you’re a die-hard fan like me you’ll love it. If you’re a newbie I think you’ll be surprised at just how wonderful a writer Stephen King is.
Post me and let me know what you think.