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Skeleton Crew Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 1986
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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 the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The Mist-The longest story in the book. A video retelling of the tale is now showing on the Spike network. One Maine morning a mist invades a beautiful lakeside area. The first person narrator's wife urges him to go to the grocery to stock up but on his arrival he discovers that dinosaurs have invaded the market! This tale reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds . It has an apocalyptic theme and is quite scary.
Mrs Todd's Shortcut tells the enchanting story of a lovely woman who resembles the ancient goddess Diana on her auto jaunts. A romantic story with great descriptions of a New England October.
The Man Who Who Would Not Shake Hands-Tragedy following a car wreck in distant India. Every time the chief protagonist of this tale shakes hands with someone they die!
Beachworld-A science fiction yarn about a spaceship trapped on a planet that is nothing but sand dunes!
Nona-A bloody tale told by a serial killer who is insane
Survivor Tale-A grisly story of an unethical medical doctor stranded on a forbidding island after his boat sinks. Not for the queasy among us!
The Jaunt-A futuristic tale of mind travel from Earth to Mars.
The Raft-Four college students decide to go swimming from a raft in a lonely Maine lake before being confronting by a horrible creature that eats them!
The Reaper's Image-An early short story by King in which the image of the grim reaper appears on an expensive old mirror.
Light and entertaining reading.
Some notables include...
The headlining feature of Skeleton Crew is certainly The Mist, which stands as one of his fan favorites, and even though it's shorter then most of his novels, he's able to still deliver on a great balance between tension, action, and character-development better than most of his 700+page novels. This story alone almost makes it worth the price, yet it only takes up a quarter of the collection.
As many other reviewers note, Cain Rose Up sticks out awkwardly as a too simple and too violent story of a school shooting. It feels like it should actually be the end of a much more complex and interesting story (like Rage).
The Jaunt is probably my favorite out of the whole collection for it's delivery on a interesting idea, and the resulting payoff at the end, it's also cool to read one from SK that delves into some fun sci-fi aspects. This whole story can be read online for free, so if nothing else, at least do that.
The premise for Word Processor of the Gods is awesome enough, a homemade computer that is able to create anything into existence that is typed into it. However, I feel that this could've been made into something much bigger and better then it is, yet still stands as a good read.
Nona felt the most like a SK story with a near excessive amount of characters that all felt like they should be part of a bigger story (which is why most of them later show up in other stories set in the same town). It still serves as a good read, especially if recently reading Body or Hearts in Atlantis.
The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet takes some time to build up speed into a great disturbing yet subtlety comedic story. It's one of the longer and last stories in the collection and along with The Reach it's a great note to end on.
Overall, I would recommend this collection for any SK fan, as it features many of his most popular and memorable works (especially in terms of works that are not full novels) might even be the best place for a newcomer of Stephen King to start.
If you haven't read them I particularly recommend the novella "The Mist" and the incredible short stories "Nona", "The Reach" (King won awards for it), and "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut.
A wide variety of plots and moods in these tales-CHECK IT OUT!