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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories Hardcover – November 3, 2015
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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
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy—Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel), Finders Keepers, and End of Watch; the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams; Revival; Doctor Sleep; and Under the Dome. 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. His epic series, The Dark Tower, is the basis for a major motion picture from Sony. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
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Top Customer Reviews
In total, there are twenty stories in this collection, with only three or four I have not recognized from prior publication either in magazines or on Amazon Kindle. A few, like "Blockade Billy," even made it into a hardback format. Despite this, however, there are a few of his recent efforts (like "Into the Tall Grass") that have been regrettably omitted. That does not detract from the overall quality of this work.
One of his stories, "Ur" contemplates the possibility of alternate realities in a vein similar to his novel 11/22/63, and also throws in a few allusions to his Dark Tower series, which personally thrilled me. Another story, "Afterlife," features a man who suffers a slow, painful death from cancer, but finds himself in a vicious ouroboro, repeating the mistakes of the past in slightly new ways, but with the same ultimate result. Although Mr. King has delved into Holmesian detective fiction before, his story "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation" unfortunately does not actually involve the masked detective. It does, though, grimly describe the visit of a middle-aged man to his Alzheimer's-stricken father in a nursing home and what that leads to. My personal favorite among these stories, however, is "The Dune," featuring a state supreme court judge whose attorney discovers the secret of the judge's childhood haunt. Surprisingly, Mr. King also includes a few pieces of poetry in this collection. While he has done so in the past, I must admit that I personally prefer his prose.
Some of his other stories reveal Mr. King's age. When I saw the title for his story, "Hermann Wouk Is Still Alive," I wondered to myself if anyone under the age of forty even knows who he was. That is not a bad thing, however, and he also gives tips of the hat to horror writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen who ceased writing long before Mr. King began his career. For those with a love of the horror genre, these are welcome acknowledgements to some of King's most frequent inspirations.
On the whole, this is a great collection by Stephen King. While it is not the best collection he has produced, it presents new and recently published material that meets the demanding standards of his fans. A great way to spend one's evening reading hours.
King’s ease of using colloquialisms and not sounding corny or disparaging is part of what makes his stories so believable. Even the most insane and diabolical becomes possible when written in King’s original styles. Yes, I said styles. Because he fits the style of his stories to the moods, the characters, and the settings, without blinking an eye. From college professors to a wealthy bedridden man to the average Joe, King rolls them all out for our inspection.
I have my favorites in this collection as well. "Ur" and "Under the Weather" top the list.
To sum it all up, this is a profoundly diverse collection of stories that once again showcases Stephen King’s skill at entertaining his readers. I can highly recommend it without reservation.
If you have never read any of these stories before, then MILE 81, UR, LITTLE GREEN GOD OF AGONY and DRUNKEN FIREWORKS alone are, I am confident to say, worth the price of admission, and this anthology deserves an Amazon rating of 4 or 5. But if you have already read only 2 or 3 of them, as most die hard SK fans like myself have, then the rating drops markedly, based only on what's left after all the winners have been discounted. I have rated this a 3, which, except for BLOCKADE BILLY that I rated as a 2 (my lowest rating for any SK novel, short story, anthology or non-fiction and I have read most of them), which ties for the lowest rating I have given to any review of anything King has published.
I am NOT one of those who say stuff like "Back when he could write..." or "His best days are far behind him." or any horse feces like that. All one has to do is read 11/22/63, JOYLAND, DOCTOR SLEEP, REVIVAL or either of the two BILL HODGES TRILOGY, all published in 2011 or subsequently, to know that King is still one the best writers of fiction around. And, it could even be argued, that he is a better writer now, more polished at his craft and more mature, than he he was as an (alcoholic, coked-up but who cares, it was the 70s and 80s and he already had money and accolades enough for a lifetime) astoundingly successful young writer in his prime, from the mid 1980s through his near-fatal accident in 1999.
And for God's sake, those who rate this anthology poorly (as I guess I sort of do) , but say it's because he is writing for money - that really makes me lol. The guy is worth something like $400 million. If YOU had $400 million, would you want to risk your reputation simply to make another lousy $20 million? Neither would I, and neither, I am sure, would Stephen King.
I think what happened with BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS was, in large part, due to the relatively recent (about 8 years since first introduction) advent of electronic publishing in the form of Kindle singles. Prior to that, if one did not see one of SK's shorts in the original periodical that published it, one had almost no chance to read it (or even know about it) until it was collected into an anthology. But by the late 2000's, the Kindle and kindle reader app for all platforms allowed SK to publish gems like MILE 81, UR (a really great SF novella centered on the early Kindle that only SK could write), and DRUNKEN FIREWORKS as e-book singles, rather than holding them back for 10 years or so until he had accumulated enough for another anthology that might have been comparable to NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES, EVERYTHING'S EVENTUAL, JUST AFTER SUNSET or some of his others.
So, in summary, if you've not read any of the stories in this anthology before, I would give it a solid 4 stars. Not 5, because some of the stories are weaker than average. But given what is left over after removing from consideration those stories that most of his "Constant Readers" like me have already bought and read, and going solely on the remaining short stories (and two very weak poems), I am sad to say that I think a 3 star rating is actually pretty generous.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book did get some bad reviews because it's a collection of short stories that...Read more