Name: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Author: Stephen King
Number of Pages: 483 (Hardback)
Published: 3rd November 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Short Stories
Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of novellas and short story fiction since his first collection Night Shift was published. ‘There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience,’ writes King. ‘It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like … a beautiful curio for sale laid out on a cheap blanket at a street bazaar.’
In The Bazaar of Bad Dreams there is a curio for every reader – a man who keeps reliving the same life, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries, a poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax.
There are also intriguing connections between the stories – themes of morality, guilt, the afterlife and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.
Effervescent yet bittersweet, juxtaposing the everyday against the unexpected, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to both his ‘Constant Reader’ and new audience. King introduces each with a fascinating autobiographical passage about its origins or his motivation for writing it, giving unique insight into his craft which will delight the millions inspired by his celebrated non-fiction title On Writing.
‘I made them especially for you’, says King. ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’ – from Goodreads
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the latest collection of short stories from Stephen King and what a variety is included.
Usually I’m a fan of REALLY long tales, so I was interested to give this a go, and was glad I did as some of these stories prove just how much can be achieved in a much smaller word count. It must take a lot of skill to add enough depth whilst keeping the word count down.
I really enjoyed the short introductions to each story, providing background information as to how the story came about. Insights into the writing life are always interesting and I’m now thinking it may be time for a re-read of On Writing at some point.
Stand out stories…
Mile 81 – I became totally engrossed in this one and wished it was much longer. A variety of unsuspecting innocents encounter an old station wagon which is much more than it first appears. The tone, the atmosphere of the abandoned rest station, the evil of the vehicle itself, everything about this story was great.
The Dune – A tale of mystery and something magical with a great concluding twist.
Bad Little Kid – Recounts the tale of George Hallas who, throughout his life, keeps seeing this same bad little kid. Whenever he appears, always the same, never aging, something bad and usually deadly happens to someone in George’s life. It’s haunting, and great, and there’s a nasty little twist at the end.
Obits – Michael Anderson finds he has a unique talent in that he can apparently kill a person just by writing their obituary. Of course, for every action there is a consequence, and Michael may find out that the price for his ’talent’ is very high. This was one of my favourites.
And, saving my absolute favourite until the end…
Drunken Fireworks – This story provides something in the way of light relief. It’s the way it’s written, and the way such a small thing like some initially good-spirited competition and taunting can actually drive people to such extreme measures. I laughed a few times throughout as the competitive urge drives two families to ever-greater extremes in the bid to outdo each other on Fourth July celebrations with fireworks over the lake.
I really enjoyed The Bazaar of Bad Dreams and would definitely pick up another short story collection in the future.