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“Renowned author King’s impressive latest collection wraps 20 stories and poems in fascinating commentary…the stories themselves are meditations on mortality, destiny, and regret, all of which showcase King’s talent for exploring the human condition…this introspective collection, like many of King’s most powerful works, draws on the deepest emotions: love, grief, fear and hope.” (Publishers Weekly, STARRED review)
"A gathering of short stories by an ascended master of the form... This collection speaks to King's considerable abilities as a writer of genre fiction who manages to expand and improve the genre as he works; certainly no one has invested ordinary reality and ordinary objects with as much creepiness as King... Best of all, lifting the curtain, King prefaces the stories with notes about how they came about. Those notes alone make this a must for aspiring writers." (Kirkus)
"To the reader's delight, King provides a backstory for each tale, enticing the reader with a memory or scenario that prompted that particular selection's birth... The stories collected here are riveting and sometimes haunting, as is the author's style. Surprise endings abound. King is in a class all by himself. Be prepared to read voraciously." (Library Journal, starred review)
“BAD DREAMS packs plenty of bite into the 20 stories found here… a welcome dose of horror from the modern master. A large helping, too: Dreams weighs in at 495 pages, every one of which whips by as you plunge into one jolting tale after another… in the space of just a few pages, King can leave your nerves thoroughly jangled. As always, King conjures nightmares you don’t necessarily want to wake up from.” (Preston Jones, The Fort Worth Star Telegram)
“[King]has always had a wicked (in more ways than one) sense of humor, too, and it'soften on display along with the scary stuff in his new short story collection, THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS…One of the bonuses of Bazaar is that each story is preceded by a note from the author about its genesis… If you're looking for King's paranormal horror side, though, Bazaar has plenty to satisfy you…And if you want King in full funny tall-tale mode, head for Drunken Fireworks.It's the hilarious story of how its narrator, a Maine native named Alden who lives with his mother in a modest cabin on the ‘town side’ of Abenaki Lake,gets into an ever-escalating Fourth of July arms race with a rich guy on the other shore who's rumored to be ‘connected,’ if you know what I mean. One lesson: Never buy a firework called Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind.” (Collette Bancroft, The Tampa Bay Times)
“The best stories in THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS are the ones that read like they meant something to King... A Death, which bears the easy, plaintive prose of Kent Haruf, follows a sheriff preparing to go through with the hanging of a man who may have been falsely convicted of murder. Obits channels the snark and cynicism of contemporary culture as its hero, a writer of celebrity death notices for a Gawker-like website, discovers he can kill people by writing their obituaries while they’re still alive. Summer Thunder, the touching post-apocalyptic story that concludes the book, ends on a note of lovely melancholy. Death may be inevitable, King says. But to fret about it or dwell on it is a waste of time when life, even at its most difficult, can bear so many rewards.” (Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald)
“Outstanding…King’s usual homespun style and storytelling swerves are fully evident, yet what’s really neat about Bad Dreams is the scribe’s introductions to each piece. Like little throwbacks to his 2000 manual/memoir On Writing,King tosses out bits of trivia and inspiration for each of his short form treats. A series of 150-mile drives in college led to Mile 81 and the most homicidal car since Christine. And a double whammy of trips to Applebee’s plus observing a road-rage incident in real time sparked his impressive imagination to create Batman and Robin Have an Altercation,an excellent piece pitting a father-and-son dynamic duo against Alzheimer’s and a strapping Texan. Short stories have a famous place in the King oeuvre, with the likes of The Body and RitaHayworth and Shawshank Redemption finding second lives on the big screen as Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption. So it’s interesting to read how King likens himself to a midnight street vendor with these mini-tales and confesses they have given him ‘a soul-deep fear thatI will be unable to bridge the gap between a great idea and the realization ofthat idea’s potential.’ Like all the greats, though, his ability to grip thereader’s mind, body and soul with his prose makes it all look easy.” (Brian Truitt, USA Today)
“A triumph…Stephen King’s shorter works have inspired readers, writers, filmmakers and other artists for more than 40 years. His newest short story collection, THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS, continues his tradition of compulsively readable short stories, novellas and narrative poems that will thrill fans looking for scares, surprise critics that write him off as a ‘genre’ author and inform artists about his personal creative process…[the] introductions are a fascinating look into the mind of one of the most popular writers in the world, and much like his writers’ manual “On Writing,” he provides readers with concise and insightful observations about the art of the written word…remarkably resonant… The last story of the collection, ‘Summer Thunder,’ takes the reader through the last days of two survivors of a worldwide nuclear holocaust… the last lines of the story are some of the most emotionally powerful sentences Mr. King has ever committed to paper — they will leave readers weepy, uplifted and satisfied…With THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS, Stephen King has achieved something rare: a short story collection with no weak spots. From a woman confronted with the limits of empathy and the reality of pain, to a man who sees the names of the doomed written in sand, the pieces play off of one another to create a cohesive reading experience filled with optimism, sadness and a search for answers to life’s unanswerable questions. While these stories may conjure up a few nightmares, they also will delight, inspire and, most importantly, entertain readers willing to make the journey." (Wendeline O. Wright, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“[King]serves up a potent mix of stories that land in and around the horror genre. Not surprisingly, most are classic King page-turners, but the choicest finds in this bazaar are the stories behind the stories or, more correctly, in front of them. King introduces each story with an explanation about the motivation for writing it. You don't need to be a writer — or a King fan — to find these fascinating.Anyone who's ever wondered about the creative process will find the author's path to each story revelatory…Each story is compelling in its own way,though I'm guessing each reader will have favorites and it's doubtful that any two lists will be the same.” (Cathy Jakicic, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“King fans are in for another in a long line of treats…THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS provides a tasty sampler that, like his other short story collections, showcases the master’s array of talents.” (John Holyoke, Bangor Daily News)
“Stephen King taps economic uncertainty and his own deep well of creativity to create 20 unsettling stories…It may be seven more years before King delivers another collection such as this one. Depending on how ordinary people continue to fare in the face of harsh reality, his topics of concern may shift in the meantime, as may those of his audience. Readers can be thankful, however, that he’s still out there pitching stories with all the craft and guile he can muster.” (Michael Berry, The Portland Press Herald)
“[A] meaty collection with interesting insights into the creative process of a writer who caused many sleepless nights. Well worth keeping on your bedside table for those evenings when, as King puts it:‘... sleep is slow to come and you wonder why the closet door is open, when you know perfectly well that you shut it.’" (Rob Merrill, The Associated Press)
“There are a lot of good stories in this collection: moving,disturbing and in between. ‘Summer Thunder’ imagines a post-apocalyptic world of startling beauty…In ‘Morality,’ a marriage goes south when a wife falls prey to the imprecations of her employer — not sexual, but ethical. The idea is that we are all complicit, fundamentally, in what happens to us, that the stain of sin is a collective one…When King gives himself a little room to move,the effects are not only unnerving but also deeply human, a series of riffs on love and loss.” (David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times)
“In the more harrowing tales of THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS, [it’s] the quotidian particulars of 21st century life — Walmart, DUI convictions, road rage, the stony realism of Maine’s rural poor — that haunt us…THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS, of course, wouldn’t feel like real Stephen King to some without a closing story from the apocalypse. In the grimly gorgeous‘Summer Thunder,’ another high point in the collection, a man,his stray dog, Gandalf, and a neighbor wait out radiation poisoning at the end of the world. The final line is killer.” (Ethan Gilsdorf, The Boston Globe)
“Shortbut sweet…horror abounds in these collected tales…King confidently inhabitsvaried realms, from the American frontier, where a tale of justice plays out,to a Florida island with deathly secrets. He prefaces each story with anexplanation of its genesis, providing a fascinating glimpse into the mind ofremarkable writer.” (People)
“King’s constant readers will devour this new collection — the author is in rare form, not only talking to the reader directly in each introduction, but in making his characters fully human. Their hopes and their dreams are all on display. King says himself in the opening pages, ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’ Indeed.” (Doug Knoop, The Seattle Times)
“King has not lost his ability to keep readers turning the pages late into the night, nor his knack of grounding the supernatural within the most mundane details of American life…this collection of 20 pieces displays a surprisingly wide range…Some of the high points find King in familiar territory…But there are equally successful stories that do not rely on the supernatural…Aptly, the book closes with ‘Summer Thunder,’ an end-of-the-world story, this time caused by our old friend nuclear war. It's a quiet tale, just two friends and a dog out in the country waiting for the radiation to kick in, but there's a particularly moving finish.” (Andy Smith, The Providence Journal)
About the Author
- File size : 3942 KB
- Print length : 513 pages
- Publication date : November 3, 2015
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Scribner; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00UDCI1AG
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #37,849 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Mile 81 - Yeah, no. This one dragged on too long by at least two devourings. Two stars, max.
Premium Harmony - ....not sure if I was meant to be scared or horrified or grossed out by this. I do have to say that I felt more for the dog than Mary. Does that make me a bad person? Three stars.
Batman and Robin Have an Altercation - This one was great. Extra love for the ending. Five stars.
The Dune - Glimmers of Duma Key. Liked but not loved. Characters not what I expect from King - too flat. Three stars.
Bad Little Kid - I actually liked this one a lot. Would've liked a better explanation on the transfer of the bad juju, but still. Four stars.
A Death - Very DT vibe to this one, without the fantasy aspect to the Westernishness. (No, that is not a word. I acknowledge that freely.) Four stars.
The Bone Church - I hate narrative poetry. Ew. This could have been fantastic as prose. One star.
Morality - Riveting and with fascinating characters. Four stars.
Afterlife - What a completely horrifying view of what happens when we die. Like a not funny but terrifying Groundhog Day. Four stars.
Ur - Another appearance by my least favorite King baddies. They sucked in Hearts in Atlantis, they sucked in The Dark Tower series, and they suck here. Two stars.
Herman Wouk Is Still Alive - Not a fan of this one much. I think Brenda and Jasmine are caricatures of clichés of drunken fat moms. Shame on this story. One star.
Under the Weather - OMG the creep factor of this one. Undiminished by guessing the ending. Five stars.
Blockade Billy - I don't care if this was about baseball. It wasn't just about baseball, and I loved it. Five stars.
Mister Yummy - Weird, and not in a great way. Three stars.
Tommy - UGH. Shades of Allen Ginsberg. Please, no. One star.
The Little Green God of Agony - Very creepy and well characterized. "Monster" a little weird, but did like the ending. Four stars.
That Bus Is Another World - Sometimes neurotic MCs work, sometimes they don't. I didn't like this one very much. Two stars.
Obits - This one had a refreshingly original premise, and (despite warnings to the contrary) I thought the ending worked well. Four stars.
Drunken Fireworks - Meh. Reminded me of Delores Claiborne, but with none of DC's compelling characterizations and horror. Three stars.
Summer Thunder - Cannot compete with The Stand, obviously, since it's not 89879349871234098143 pages long, but a horrifying mini-apocalypse just the same. Four stars.
TL;DR: Read this for the high points, but expect some low ones, as must be with any short story collection. You'll enjoy some of them, at least, because there's something for everyone here. Truly a bazaar.
Some have a supernatural influence while most portray horrors associated with real life rather than ghosts, aliens, and monsters. This seems to bother some of the reviewers but in reality, King has broadened his genre considerably over the past two decades. The offerings are somewhat connected by King's comments on when or why he wrote each story and by related themes of death, afterlife, guilt, and remorse.
King never shrinks from utilizing the English language as attested by some of his monumental tomes and continuing series. Yet he is equally renowned for his ability to write shorter concise and gripping stories as seen in his various collections of short stories and novellas over the years, many of which became screenplays.
Caveat: if you read and absorb everything King as I do, you will encounter tales in this collection that you have encountered before in one form or another--such is the nature of collected short story volumes. But each has been revised and updated where appropriate. Having enjoyed King's tales of haunted cars, such as "Christine" and "From A Buick 8", I especially enjoyed "Mile 81" which should make any driver rethink stopping at a rest stop along any public roadway. "Afterlife" presents a thought provoking choice that newly departed spirits must make. And "Obits" is a fascinating tale of horror that while not new, is imminently re-readable.
If you have read King's works over the past decades and matured in life as his legacy continued to grow, you should enjoy and appreciate this new collection; indeed, the new material makes the volume worthwhile to me regardless of whether I have previously read some of the stories. I am only rating it with four stars as I selfishly would have liked to see a few more original offerings.
Top reviews from other countries
Having been a reader of King since my teenage years, I have found that his Novellas and Short Stories to be particularly unsettling. This new collection contains some of his darkest tales, often with a spin on morality and social norms. They also allow us to peep into one of King’s themes; that our reality may coexist with others, in terms of shared dimensions.
As this is a collection by the King of Horror, these dimensions that impinge upon our own; contain horrors that we have difficulty comprehending, like ‘Mile 81’ where a dangerous vehicle stalks an abandoned freeway rest-area [aka ‘Motorway Services’], or the evil child in ‘The Bad Kid’, who causes death and mayhem to whom he stalks; even right up to the final walk of a death row prisoner.
It contains some new work, though a significant proportion of the stories here have been available previously; but King has updated them for this collection [as he indicates in his introduction].
I would make specific mention of the surreal ‘Ur’ which was first published when the eBook / Kindle boom gathered momentum. Though one should remember that King was an early pioneer of the ebook, with his first forays being ‘The Plant’ [which remains uncompleted], and ‘Riding the Bullet’. ‘Ur’ features a college professor whose strange eReader is one that contains work by established and famous writers, now deceased – but the works within the eReader are from a different dimension, or are they?
There is also pathos blended in with the horror, such as in ‘Batman and Robin have an Altercation’, which has the theme of the ravages of age upon a Son and his elderly Father whose mental faculties are dimmed, but not totally gone.
The short introductions by King where he prefaces the stories add welcome insight, showing the story in context as well as inception.
Specific favourites are the very droll ‘Drunken Fireworks’, which started life as an audio novella, and is indeed a very engaging morality tale that when placed into context, mirrors the inherent madness in humanity’s need for the arms race. Though my favourite is the dark reflection of age and the mysteries of death in ‘The Dune’ [originally published as a story in the British literary journal Granta].
I subsequently purchased the audio version of this collection from Audible, which is remarkable, as King prefaces the stories vocally, but each is narrated by professional actors and vocal artists, such as Craig Wasson; and these narrations brings the stories to life [and death].
It is of little surprise that this collection was recognised by The Mystery Writers of America [MWA], with the story ‘Obits’ gaining an Edgar Award.
Highly recommended, and as a paperback or audiobook, these tales will unsettle as well as entertain in equal measure, with the promise of the Bad Dreams as alluded to by the title.
Firstly, let me say that these stories are still quite long. Some of them even have mini chapters. I didn't necessarily see this is as a bad thing but it reconfirmed my idea that this book was a much better idea than ploughing into one of his full length novels again (though classics like 'The Shining' and 'Christine' are definitely beckoning to me). King's writing is exquisitely detailed and in this format, that reflected on him a lot better than it would have done had the book been so long. I really loved the variation within the stories here too: there's something for everyone though all contain elements of the horrifying, be it supernatural or not. Particular favourites of mine include 'Obits' which obviously won the 2016 Edgar Award for a good reason, 'Summer Thunder' which allowed a small glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world filled with radiation poisoning, quiet and tragic memories, and 'Ur' which made me VERY curious to read King's 'Dark Tower' series. 'Bad Little Kid' was also great, giving me fond memories of the things I had enjoyed about 'It' in a condensed form.
One of the things that I probably found most frustrating was King's penchant for ambiguous endings. He says himself that he has a soft spot for them and while they did work for the stories, they also left me feeling liken I'd missed out on something important. Stories such as 'That Bus Is Another World', 'A Death' and 'The Little Green God Of Agony' particularly made me feel this way. King, for the most part, likes to stick with what he knows as well. Most of the stories are set in a shady, grubby Maine and while it meant that he knew the place well, I would have loved some more variety in the settings. A lot of the characters felt the same too in the way that they spoke and thought about things so it didn't give much variety as a whole. This is a great collection of stories other wise and I am definitely willing to have another go at one of King's other novels in the future.
Fear not though, there is certainly horror here, but some of the time it's mixed with pathos and sadness, such as the 17 page "Herman Wouk Is Still Alive". This is a horrific story, inspired by real events, but the nature of the 2 sets of characters involved takes it beyond being just a short horror story. Well in my view anyway!
As with all of King's writing it's his imagination that takes your breath away, and this group of stories is no different in that regard. The variety of the material and the ideas are simply amazing. I don't know how he does it. The title of this volume is perhaps a reference to himself, as I'm sure I've read that if King stops writing he starts having bad dreams.
Horror and gore are present, as are King’s usual themes: life, death, happiness, the unexplained, ridiculous unworldly happenings that are somehow made real in the imagination. I wondered if age has mellowed him somewhat, and I think it maybe has to some extent, but SK still doesn’t shy away from calling a zombie spade a zombie spade. This collection is one of an author who shares his success but still recognised his limitations, and he himself writes that writing is always a learning curve, however successful you are at doing it. And not every short story can be loved by everybody, right?
I remember reading Night Shift for the first time. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t read King’s short story collections before, I would urge you to begin with that particular one. In fact, I know for a fact that my thumbed and moth-eared copy is still in the loft, waiting for my husband to bring it down.
I might be too scared to go up there myself.