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Skeleton Crew Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 1986

4.4 out of 5 stars 289 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the introduction to Skeleton Crew (1985), his second collection of stories, King pokes fun at his penchant for "literary elephantiasis," makes scatological jokes about his muse, confesses how much money he makes (gross and net), and tells a story about getting arrested one time when he was "suffused with the sort of towering, righteous rage that only drunk undergraduates can feel." He winds up with an invitation to a scary voyage: "Grab onto my arm now. Hold tight. We are going into a number of dark places, but I think I know the way."

And he sure does. Skeleton Crew contains a superb short novel ("The Mist") that alone is worth the price of admission, plus two forgettable poems and 20 short stories on such themes as an evil toy monkey, a human-eating water slick, a machine that avenges murder, and unnatural creatures that inhabit the thick woods near Castle Rock, Maine. The short tales range from simply enjoyable to surprisingly good.

In addition to "The Mist," the real standout is "The Reach," a beautifully subtle story about a great-grandmother who was born on a small island off the coast of Maine and has lived there her whole life. She has never been across "the Reach," the body of water between island and mainland. This is the story that King fans give to their friends who don't read horror in order to show them how literate, how charming a storyteller he can be. Don't miss it. --Fiona Webster

From Publishers Weekly

This hefty sampler of King's shorter works, from all stages of the horror master's career, demonstrates the range of his abilities. Some of the stories here rank among his best, and "even the less successful ones are fun," PW observed.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (June 3, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451168615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451168610
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Before I shifted in literary tastes from mostly science fiction and fantasy to Tom Clancy-style military thrillers, I was a regular reader of Stephen King's macabre masterpieces. I have about two-thirds of his literary output, and if books were not as expensive now I'd still be a regular reader of King's works.
One of my favorite books by Steve-o is Skeleton Crew, his second collection of short stories, including the novella "The Mist." And as in any collection of short fiction, some of the 22 stories stand head and shoulders above the rest.
The creepiest, by far, is "The Mist," which begins with, as in all good King works, with a seemingly normal event (a storm) and a routine occurrence (a trip to the supermarket) and slowly but surely morphs into a situation which becomes scarier as the story progresses. While not wanting to give anything away, I can tell you this much -- I'll never go to the Kash n' Karry and look at it quite the same way again, particularly in the spaghetti sauce section.
"Survivor Type" is King's take on Robinson Crusoe. Its protagonist is Richard Pine, a surgeon who, unfortunately, has also been involved in the narcotics "business." Now, after he is shipwrecked and marooned on a desert isle, Pine is forced to face his inner demons and, by the way, cope with the problem of what to eat in a place where there is no viable food source. Suffice it to say that in his desperation he will have to use his surgical training to solve this dicey problem.
While there are other stories that give me the willies, I am always drawn to "Word Processor of the Gods.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
SKELETON CREW is mostly a collection of Stephen King short stories (there are a couple of poems). The collection was published around 1986. King had been a world-wide publishing phenomenon for just over a decade at that point. The stories are mostly hits, including a few bona fide classics, including "The Mist", "The Monkey", and "The Raft" with just a few lackluster tales. Most of the stories are works that were published previously in various print sources. The stories are prefixed with an introduction by King explaining why he still writes short stories. The works in the book are as follows.

"The Mist"--recently published as a stand alone novella and adapted by Frank Darabont into a motion picture. "The Mist" is probably the strongest story in the collection and one of the better known and well-liked stories from SKELETON CREW. "The Mist" tells the story of a group of people that find themselves stranded at a local shopping center when a mysterious mist covers the town and surroundings and brings with it creatures from a prehistoric age. If you've seen Darabont's film, you really should read the story. The story has an ambiguous ending, but literally ends in "hope".

"Here There Be Tygers"--a little boy has to go to the bathroom but is scared because he believes that there is a tiger inside the stalls. Not everything is in one's imagination and children don't cry wolf as often as many adults think they do.

"The Monkey"--this is probably the best known tale from SKELETON CREW, after "The Mist". "The Monkey" is a story about a man who believes that a mechanical, cymbal-crashing monkey is cursed. He believes that every time the monkey crashes its symbols someone close to the man dies.
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4 Comments 49 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on January 13, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Most book critics are less than enthusiastic over Stephen
King's short story collections; but if you're a fan, you
probably don't much care. If you haven't read any of King's
books, then this collection is the perfect medium for an
introduction not only to the Master of Horror, but also to
fiction writing at its finest. Whether you're looking for
entertainment, or for a crash-course in superior
writing technique, Skeleton Crew is well worth a look. The
stories range from the eerie to the unsettling to the downright terrifying. What makes them so effective is their
believability; the mundane "family-next-door" quality that
so many of King's characters possess. These are not the
brilliant lawyers, hard-boiled private eyes or blushing
debutantes that form the character base of so much of today's
popular fiction. King's characters are regular folks
conducting their day-to-day lives in the same way we all do,
and it is this quality which reaches into your imagination
and takes hold of your personal fears with a grip hard to
shake loose.
"The Mist" is the signature piece of this collection. More
of a novella, it is so poignantly authentic in its creation
that you cannot help seeing your own family, summer cottage
and small town as the cast and character of the tale. The
pace of the story is akin to the snowball rolling downhill;
slow and benign at first, speeding up to a pitch that is
maniacal and devastating, testing the limits of your sanity.
Whether you're looking for your next Stephen King fix, or
just a shot of pure adrenaline riding the crest of crisp
prose, this book is for you!
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