197 of 208 people found the following review helpful
King's first collection of short stories since 1993 ("Nightmares and Dreamscapes") shows the horror master still at the top of his game. There isn't a dud in the bunch. King chose the order of the stories by shuffling all the spades in a deck of cards plus the joker; and the serendipitous result, he says, created a nice balance between "the literary stories and the all-out screamers." But these stories are already a nice balance in themselves: eerie and spare, chilling and vivid, full of strong voices and real characters getting a jolt of terror out of an ordinary day.
Like the horror writer in "The Road Virus Heads North," who stops off at a yard sale on his way home. Or the divorcing couple who get the true measure of one another in a bloody encounter with a maitre d' in "Lunch at the Gotham Café." Or the woman in the acidulous marriage whose sense of déjà vu keeps getting sickeningly stronger on her second honeymoon in "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French."
An O.Henry prize winner (and one of King's least favorite stories), first published in "The New Yorker," reveals the roots of an old man's fear in a boyhood encounter with the devil on an idyllic stretch of trout stream in rural Maine. Another "New Yorker" story, "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away," is a poignant, haunting tale of a lonely traveling salesman whose graffiti collection engenders a life or death dilemma.
The story King says is his favorite, because of its unexpected shift from humor to horror, "L.T.'s Theory of Pets," turns on a gruesome twist at the end, which didn't stick with me half so much as the chilling aftermath of a choice forced on a college kid during his hitchhiking encounter with Death in "Riding the Bullet," first made famous as an e-book.
In a Dark Tower story, "The Little Sisters of Eluria," prequel to King's seven-volume (book five, now completed, is 900 pages) "magnum opus," Roland is attacked by green mutants and wakes in a gleaming hospital tent staffed by "nurses of death instead of life." Teeming with romance, adventure, horror and heroics, this story has a literally creepy ending.
The title story, "Everything's Eventual" features a naïve young high school drop-out with a certain talent but no clear ambition, who discovers his dream job is a nightmare. Though the stories are in a randomly chosen order, "Autopsy Room Four" is the ideal opener, a pitch-perfect blend of black humor and visceral horror told by a golfer who wakes up on an autopsy table. Inspired by a "Twilight Zone" episode, King gives it a thoroughly up-to-date twist. The poignantly low-key "Luckey," about a motel chambermaid who receives a "luckey" quarter as a tip, is an appropriate closer too. Gritty, but plaintive too, the story holds a hopeful note.
Most stories are told in the first person and King's narrators - young, old or middle-aged - seem to speak right into your ear, so immediate and expressive are their voices. They are, mostly, ordinary people whose ordinary lives take a heart-stopping turn. There are also a couple of successful horror writers and a few motel rooms, including the haunted one, room "1408."
King accompanies each story with a short note about its inspiration and development, and sometimes a few words about how the writing went and what he thinks of the story now. An introduction laments the lack of outlets for the short story form and shares a few of his marketing ventures.
Short stories, says King, do not come easy. His are pared down and cut close to plot, character and setting, with each of these elements honed and none of the manic digressions you sometimes find in his novels. A terrific collection, imagination harnessed.
101 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2002
Stephen King just gets better and better. His fourteen short stories highlight his mastery of a difficult form of writing. I particularly liked his down home remarks at the beginning or end of each story explaining a little about how he happened to write it and what he was trying to achieve. King has the uncanny ability to talk directly to the reader, one-on-one as if you are the only person in the world.
The stories have been previously published (I had read the four that first appeared in "The New Yorker"), but I was delighted to have them in book form and reread them with great pleasure. For all you Dark Tower fans, there is an excellent addition, "The Little Sisters of Eluria."
Not one of the fourteen stories disappointed me; they were varied: humorous, reflective, and scary. If you think the Old Master might have lost his touch at scaring you sideways, try "The Road Virus Heads North." Some particular favorites: the title piece "Everything's Eventual" told by an oh-so-believable teenaged boy made this sinister tale poignant as well as inevitable. King saw a handsome couple arguing in a fancy New York restaurant and somehow came up with "Lunch at the Gotham Café" (see cover of book for illustration. Be sure to check the back cover as well!). I'll let SK tell you about the whys of "In the Deathroom."
"This is a slightly Kafkaesque story about an interrogation room in the South American version of Hell. In such stories, the fellow being interrogated usually ends up spilling everything and then being killed (or losing his mind). I wanted to write one with a happier ending, however unreal that might be. And here it is."
But we know in our hearts that it isn't going to be that "happy," don't we?
"Everything's Eventual" is an unqualified blue ribbon group of short stories. I predict new King fans on the horizon
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This book is a collection of 14 shorts stories by Stephen King. The longest story is a prequel to the Dark Tower series and will doubtless be of interest to fans of that series. In recent months, a number of people have likely bought this collection to read "1408" so they can see the story that the movie was based on. I confess that this was my motivation and it's certainly worth reading. Because it is a true short story, it doesn't involve nearly as many twists and turns as the movie, and ends more cleanly.
The title of this collection comes from what may well be the finest story of the lot. It's a quirky tale of a young man with the ability to affect other people using symbols and writing. He narrates the story himself, sounds like the village idiot, and has just about the strangest job imaginable.
L.T.'s Theory of Pets is a second standout. It's a story of marital difficulties, pet incompatibility, and the art of storytelling. It's quite good and much better than any description of the plot could ever do justice to. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll enjoy it.
Autopsy in Room 4 may be the most suspenseful story. It features a paralyzed man on an autopsy table and you don't have to be the most imaginative person in the world to see how frightening that prospect would be.
Reviewing a collection of short stories can be tricky because there are so many stories in the book and each one is its own experience. Three or four are truly outstanding, and most of the rest are still quite good and well worth reading. There were two or three that didn't grab me but the beauty of a short story is that you don't invest that much time so the weaker stories don't take much out of your enjoyment of the book. I'd recommend thins book to all fans of King or the short story format.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
In this collection of 14 short stories by everyone's favorite boogeyman Stephen King, there is a one particular story in here called "1408" that is in my honest opinion, the scariest short story that King has published to date. It deals with a haunted hotel room and I'm not telling you anymore than that. What I will say is that I've read this one story at least ten times and it never fails to make the hairs on my neck stand straight up.
If you, dear Amazon shopper, like the feeling of being terrified this is what I suggest:
Get your hands on a copy of this book. When you've done that, make sure you save "1408" for a night that you're alone. Try to read this one when you're nice and relaxed and really try to let yourself get immersed in King's masterful storytelling. I guarantee that at least nine out of ten of you that follow my suggestions will get spooked something awful.
As for the rest of the book, it really is a return to form for King as far as his short story collections go ("Nightmares and Dreamscapes", the book and not the TNT series, wasn't all that great save for a couple). Most of the stories here are hits rather than misses and "1408" isn't the only story here that will give you the chills. "The Man in the Black Suit" is pretty intense (not to mention King won an O. Henry Award for that one). "Riding the Bullet", the famed e-book from a few years back is here also, as well as a nice little side tale from the Dark Tower series titled "The Little Sisters of Eleuria".
I recommend this book to the fans and the non-fans alike as this is a great collection. Plus, "1408" is calling.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2007
When hearing about the new movie, I had to pick up the book and was privelaged to take a gander and all the short stories. Here are the short reviews on each:
Autopsy room 4 - a tense, and engaging story of a man who is confined to the prison of his body. He thinks he is still alive even though his is in an autopsy room. Sometimes funny in its approach to the subject. Reminds me of Hitchcock. (5 stars.)
All that you love will be carried away - Depressing but interesting journey of a man's last thoughts that involve bathroom quotations.
The man in the black suit - Intensly creepy and memorable. The description alone of the man makes for an uneasy feeling. It got under my skin, alright. (5 stars)
Death of jack hamiliton - while running away from the cops, one of the dillinger gang boys gets shot and this is his tale of passing on. Curiously interesting. (4 stars)
1408 - A psychological approach of a hanuted room. Way different than the movie. Movie added a lot more content. In my opinion, movie was better than the actual original short. (3 stars.)
That feeling, you can only say in french - Deja vu overload. It turns your mind around a bit. Don't really know where it goes. (2 stars)
Riding the bullet - Sooner or later, we all have to go. But which will go first, the mother or the son. In this dark tale, a driver leaves the descision up to the son. (5 stars)
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I went though most of high school hooked on Stephen King's stuff. While the novels were usually the best stuff, some of his really horrifying moments were in the short story collections.
But this isn't exactly one of them. Take "Luckey Quarter", for example. It's nothing but a cheat-the-reader dream sequence that holds no suspense.
Don't get me wrong, some of the stories are really stand outs, like "1408" a story about a hotel room that has similarities to "The Shining." There's also a short entitled "The Road Virus Heads North" that has such imagery that it kept me up late.
But the work lacks in suspense and horror like King's other shorts (see Nightmares and Dreamscapes if you haven't already it's much better than this work). King also inserts his little editorial comments before each story, to give budding writers an idea of what he was thinking. Unfortunately, these little nuggets sometimes have spoiler information; and generally he has nothing particularly interesting to say. (e.g. "This is my take on the classic . . ." or "I got the idea for this story...").
This book is really for King fans who've read all of his other works. If you haven't read the classics, read those first, then read this book - otherwise you'll never know how good King really is.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2007
I'm biased when it comes to author Stephen King. It was "The Shining" that made me want to be a writer in the first place, so I credit much of my fortune to his ability to engage me as a reader (and terrify me when I was nine years old). For those who are curious about this book because of "1408," know that just based on the movie's trailers the film is nothing like the short story (which is one of 14 in this book).
"1408" is actually a nod to horror master H.P. Lovecraft, and King almost seems to channel the man through this story. It is creepy and never over the top, and it's not even the best one in this book.
The other 13 stories are decent reads, though some are less scary than others, but I don't think any horror or King fan will be disappointed by this collection. Everything from the devil to undead drivers are covered here, and it is King in best form.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
If you are buying this book for the movie tie-in to 1408, you might be disappointed because the trailer for the movie and the plot of the short story really don't seem to mirror each other, so I have a feeling the two don't resemble each other down to the smallest detail. Word is that King gave approval to the movie version, so perhaps it maintains the emotional resonance of the short story which is, by the way, as spooky and eerie as you'd expect, so much so that it is easy to forget how well King writes.
In addition to the stories, one of my favorite parts of this book was the preface and author's notes on the stories, by King. Budding writers in this genre of horror or psychological suspense/horror should focus carefully on his writing advice. He doesn't give it lightly and he also doesn't mince words. You may primarily buy this book for the great and riveting tales within, but you may also find yourself equally fascinated by what King writes about...ssbout HOW to write and his own perspective on his craft. He confesses that he has been surprised that some stories which he considered less than stellar have won awards, showing that he is still capable of being surprised by his readers and reviewers. I expect that is part of the thrill of what he does, discovering what touches readers and what does not.
In the preface, for example, he brings up an important subject, the evolution of the short story and its possible demise. He writes so deftly about such a serious subject! I happen to be equally concerned, coming from a time when short stories filled so many magazines I read, from Atlantic to Redbook to Saturday Evening Post. I grew up reading them in magazines my parents had around the house. Try to find a typical, mass market magazine that contains short stories anymore, especially by writers whose words will become classic. Pretty hard, isn't it? Sad - at least to me and, based on what he wrote, to King as well.
He also touches on an E-book he wrote and his concern about how well it did. He was both fascinated and...yes, horrified. You'll have to read this book to find out why.
Anyway, this book is well worth reading, perfect for those who only have limited time and who find the idea of an entire book on one subject too daunting. I have a feeling you'll read this one straight through, even if you THINK you're going to only dip into one or two of the short stories. You'll be hooked and enthralled before you know it.
Some of the stories pay homage to other writers and if you are queasy when it comes to reading graphic details, consider yourself forewarned. I found the first story "Autopsy Room Four" to be particularly hard going but stuck it out - and I'm glad I did. Its genesis was an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, something I'd never have known if King hadn't pointed it out. Once he did, I actually remembered the particular episode with Joseph Cotten and- like King - agree that it was one of the spookiest Hitchcock episodes out there.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Several of the short stories in this collection appear to be vignettes; something that could have been part of a much larger story, but instead became a scene in the life of the characters. Some of the stories that try to be clever (e.g., "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French) end up getting caught in their "gee see how clever I am" storylines and ended up being a disappointment to me, particularly as I had that one figured out about halfway through. One story, "The Road Virus Heads North," I remember very well as being very similar to a story from Rod Serling's "Night Gallery" TV series.
Getting past my complaints, there are some very good stories. Perhaps the best story in this collection is an entry based on the characters from the Dark Tower series, "The Little Sisters of Eluria." I was fascinated by this story, and occasionally chilled, from beginning to end. Even after I realized the nature of the sisters I was still chilled. Stephen King tells this story at his best.
"Autopsy Room Four" bears a strong resemblance to another movie or TV show I saw a long time ago about a paralyzed man, but King manages to spice this one up and I admit that while I was expecting an all-too-familiar story, I enjoyed the ending. "The Man in the Black Suit" also provides you with a similar feeling to some of Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories, but again with a nice twist at the end.
"All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" left me somewhat dry. I never cared about the main character, was somewhat puzzled by many of his motivations, and became somewhat bored. The central point of enjoyment in this story was his interesting hobby. "The Death of Jack Hamilton" is well written, with very good visualization, but do not expect this to be other than the tale of how a gangster's life ends.
"In the Deathroom" is a story that could have been on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." The story is vaguely disturbing, and the situation hopeless for the protagonist. At first you even momentarily wonder who the protagonist is. Then you wonder why you are watching a show about this person, as his situation seems so inevitable, and the inevitability makes you squirm as you long for hope. A nicely executed story with a very Hitchcockian ending.
"Everything's Eventual" is a very clever story that could easily be the basis of a novel. After "The Little Sisters of Eluria" this story is one of my favorites. The central character has a talent that is somewhere between science fiction, fantasy and the paranormal. The life the central character, Dink Earnshaw, leads is quite - shall we say bizarre? I would rather the reader discover how he came to be earning nearly nothing while having everything a person could want, and why he dumps the remainder of his money into the storm drains at the end of each week.
"L.T.'s Theory of Pets" is a little bizarre and twisted, and probably because I spent at least a little while trying to understand what the ending meant means that the story did what King intended. It matters not that the story had a rather ambiguous ending, just that the story makes you think.
"Lunch at the Gotham Café" is gloriously bizarre and surreal, a juxtaposition of the real and the unreal. As the story progresses I felt a dreamlike quality to the telling, wondering whether I was going to wake up at some point. Fortunately, or not, the story maintains the surreal feeling to the ending that surprised me by being different from what I expected. This story is another of the better stories in this collection.
"1408" may have had some elements of H.P. Lovecraft, though I suspect such elements may have been unintentional on the part of King. I enjoyed the story because King very pointedly tells you the problem with room 1408 has nothing to do with ghosts and the supernatural. That room is just wrong. I considered this story another of the better stories, good for generating a lot of thought after reading it.
"Riding the Bullet" was previously available on the internet. This story is in many respects a traditional ghost story, where you believe and fear, and then you realize it probably was not real, and then you find evidence that it may have been. While this story could have been a bit boring because it is similar to a number of other ghost stories, King injected enough elements into it to keep it vigorous.
"Luckey Quarter" is another of those stories that could have been showcased on a show such as "Twilight Zone" or "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." This time our protagonist is an overworked hotel maid. She has too many bills and too little opportunity. However, a "luckey" quarter comes her way and suddenly opportunities present themselves; or do they? This is a Stephen King story, after all.
Each of these stories is well written. There are several stories that are merely good, but there are even more stories that are very good or even excellent. The collection could have been pared down a bit, but given that we each have different favorites, what I thought was a weaker story someone else may have thought great. The collection is what it is. Worth having in any King fan's collection or for anyone who enjoys a well-written tale.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2003
I threw this book in the trash. Not because I was acting the part of a pious little church mouse thinking, "Harry Potter is the Devil", but more because it scared me. Scared the Holy juices right off my protective little cross necklace I keep around my neck at night. Scared me like an old woman gets scared when she realizes her hubby died sometime in the night as she slept beside him. Thanks a freakin lot, King! Thanks a lot, pal!
Throwing his books away because they terrified isn't something of a shocker. I've done it before. I did it with 'It', would have done it with 'Cycle of the Warewolf' if it wasn't owned by the library. This book, Everything's Eventual that is, was thrown away twice, and that's where it sits right now,in the trash, tempting me to pick it up again for another read!
This darn book is creepy. The voices heard in room 1408 will soon seem like they're whispering to you. The "hungry" Devil that chats with a nine-year-old near the woods will soon be looking to see what you've caught out of the stream. I only read nine of these stories, all the screamers I'm sure. I didn't go in order but based my selections on titles, starting with the Man in the Black Suit. Scared the pee out of me too, that one did.
The Road Virus Heads North is the kind of tale that you know you shouldn't read, the kind of story that you'll regret reading at about 2:00AM when it's just you alone with your thoughts. But dang it, it was so tempting and when I finished it, I was scared completely frozen! I couldn't move, expecting that Metallica fan of a kid with the cannibal teeth to be staring back at me, smiling the same twisted smile described from the story.
Maybe I'll give into my impulse and fish that book out of the trash for the second time; maybe not, but that book will make you think that the next time you get up to get a drink at four in the morning and turn on the bedroom light that sits on the nightstand, that demon your mind's created WILL really be staring back at you, smiling an eery grin.
Riding the Bullet was intended to be a heart-warmer of a spook story but it still freaked me out. There is a story about Roland as a younger man for those of you who enjoy reading about his ongoing saga. All That You Love Will Be Carried Away is sad and scary at the same time and 1408 is terrifying. Other notables is the way 'LT's Theory of Pets' will make you laugh silly, then sit still in utter shock at the end.
Maybe, when you've read five or six stories in it, you'll consider trashing this one too, ridding yourself of the opportunity to get anymore scared than you already are. Maybe, though, you'll fish it out of the trash again and again, reading just one more story.....like I'm tempted to do right now.