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Just After Sunset: Stories Mass Market Paperback – September 22, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 530 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the introduction to his first collection of short fiction since Everything's Eventual (2002), King credits editing Best American Short Stories (2007) with reigniting his interest in the short form and inducing some of this volume's contents. Most of these 13 tales show him at the top of his game, molding the themes and set pieces of horror and suspense fiction into richly nuanced blends of fantasy and psychological realism. The Things They Left Behind, a powerful study of survivor guilt, is one of several supernatural disaster stories that evoke the horrors of 9/11. Like the crime thrillers The Gingerbread Girl and A Very Tight Place, both of which feature protagonists struggling with apparently insuperable threats to life, it is laced with moving ruminations on mortality that King attributes to his own well-publicized near-death experience. Even the smattering of genre-oriented works shows King trying out provocative new vehicles for his trademark thrills, notably N., a creepy character study of an obsessive-compulsive that subtly blossoms into a tale of cosmic terror in the tradition of Arthur Machen and H.P. Lovecraft. Culled almost entirely from leading mainstream periodicals, these stories are a testament to the literary merits of the well-told macabre tale. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

In King's latest collection of short stories (following 2002's Everything's Eventual), he presents 14 tales that range from the philosophically themed, to one in which the author gleefully admits to playing with the gross-out factor ("A Very Tight Place"), to "The Cat from Hell," which makes its hardcover debut some 30 years after its original publication as part of a contest in Cavalier, one of the gentleman's magazines that put food on the table in King's early years as a writer. In his introduction, King cites his recent stint as guest editor for the 2007 edition of Best American Short Stories as an impetus to return to the form in his own writing. Several of the works included here were written following that experience. Finally, as King has done previously in his collections, at the end of the volume he provides the reader with brief insights into the inspirations for each tale. Recommended for all popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/08.]—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586652
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416586654
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (530 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on November 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
First, I'm an avid Stephen King fan. I'm pretty sure I've read all of his books but I don't think I can say I've read every word he's written....but I have to be close. After reading Just After Sunset, I'm convinced that King's true talent lies in the short story/novella sphere. He is a master at developing stories and characters quickly and like a spider can spin his web with perfection. His novels, all of them, are worth reading. You won't be sorry having invested the time with any of them, but his true masterpieces are in his collections of short stories and novellas.

Just after Sunset is comprised of 13 stories, many published previously. For example, The Cat From Hell was originally published in 1977. King displayed, even then, his willingness to experiment with publishing. Originally, only the first 500 words of Cat From Hell were published in Cavalier. Readers were invited to finish the story and the completed work was published later the same year. The story has been published, revised, and then published again. The story was also used in Tales From the Darkside. Others, such as Willa are recent creations and are a treat for the mind.

"N" continues King's willingness to experiment in getting his stories out to the public in innovative ways. The short story "N" was the basis for the animated series of the same name.

Harvey's Dream, originally published in New Yorker in 2003, is a story of fathers, daughters, and dreams and is a read that will keep you interested throughout.

Of all the stories included in Just After Sunset, my favorite is Stationary Bike. Richard Sifkitz has a belated physical and learns that his cholesterol is extremely high; dangerously so.
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Format: Hardcover
Although I have never been an advocate of the view that Stephen King was losing his touch, this collection seems to offer a version of King with so much energy and creativity that some of his more recent works pale in comparison. It is an intense and generous sampler of short fiction that truly shows King at his best, whether you consider his best to be his horror or his more mainstream work.

"Willa," which provides a quiet, understated opener to the collection, is suspenseful, eerie, and creative. It also, in my opinion, offers a rather unique solution to what I will admit is one of King's problems: crafting realistic modern dialogue for his younger characters. (A problems that he seems to have largely eliminated in this collection, by the way, with the exception of his creative use of it here.) "Harvey's Dream" is also quiet. I found it far more unsettling than "Willa," however, as its depiction of ordinary marital unhappiness--already frightening, given its monotony and barely suppressed hatred--slowly evolves into a sharp, ice-pick intrusion of unfortunate foresight. "Graduation Afternoon" features a similar kind of transition from ordinary unhappiness to the outright horrific.

"The Gingerbread Girl" is one of the best stories in the collection. King shows a deft touch with Emily's characterization while still writing at a white-hot pace and bringing this particular reader to the edge of her seat. He takes enough time to build up Em's past and her attempts to outrun it before starting the clock with the arrival of the zealously psychotic Pickering, one of the best and most frightening villains in all of King's short fiction. Another standout is "N.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a bit surprised - disappointed even - in the rather mediocre average review score for Stephen King's anthology, "Just After Sunset." While this collection of short stories is not steeped in the sensational terror and gore of King's earlier works (most of which I thought were terrific), "Sunset" reflects a more mature King - the master of words relying less on horror and more on the subtleties of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I always found King a keen observer of culture and society - one of the best at capturing the most mundane details of ordinary life, and in King's case, weaving them into a dark fabric of fear that lures one from the familiarity of (a pet, a car, and friendly neighbor...) into unsettled and disturbing worlds, and epic battles of good vs. malevolence. All of which are reflected in this baker's dozen of darkness - twelve new and the "bonus" of "The Cat from Hell" - an early King tale that made it to the big screen in the 1990 movie "Tales from the Darkside". To the point, the contrast in style between the graphic and simple story lines of "Hell Cat", and the cleverly drawn irony of "Mute" could not be more pronounced. Both frightening, engaging, and entertaining reads, but where "Cat" is pretty much gothic horror, "Mute" is a cleverly drawn, sophisticated tale of suspense and murder that would fit well in a collection of Hitchcock.

I didn't find a bad story in the lot, but if I were to pick my favorites, in addition to the fiendish "Mute", I'd place the diabolically gross "A Very Tight Place" near the top of the list. Or the poignant "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates" - an oft-told tale in many respects, but never replayed more beautifully than here.
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