Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review - Just After Sunset

Is there any point in my writing a review of Just After Sunset (2008), the new collection of short stories by Stephen King? He's written so much over such a long time that I would think that most readers would have their opinions of his work pretty well fixed by now.

These 13 stories are, with one exception, recent, and they fall into the same genre as most of King's work, that is, there are no westerns or love stories (though there are some where love is a key element) here. We read about fairly ordinary people who come under sinister influences of one type or another, and spooky things happen, and we see the result.

I tried to be neutral in the above paragraphs, but I have enjoyed King's writing for a long time. His work is solidly in the fantasy area, but grounded in such relatable reality that the works take on a vividness that, say, Lovecraft never does for me. I appreciate the sense of "what-if?" that King brings to his characters, but I can also see where he can be polarizing. My wife is one of those who has very little tolerance for the preposterous (I sometimes feel she struggles to get through episodes of Lost), while I am generally willing to allow a talented creator to take me in an intriguing direction.

Just After Sunset doesn't strike me as major King, there is little of the universal themes that inform his best long-form works (like the neglected The Stand). But these tales are involving, and, unless you're opposed to the whole idea of Stephen King, you'll be interested in where they're going. They may not haunt my dreams (my nightmares don't come out of fictional depictions, anyway), but they are a good read.

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