The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King

Eight stars

In this thorough collection of short stories, King presents the reader with a cornucopia of his writing abilities (though fans will know he has much more bouncing around inside his head). The gathered works span an eclectic set of themes, from death through to apocalyptic degradation with a smattering of premonition and technological independence tossed in for good luck. A new reader will take from the collection a story or two to intrigue them, while long-time fans can revel in the vastness of King’s abilities when not harnessed to a full-length tale. The stories are too numerous to list here, or even individualise them with their own reviews, but it will do the reader well to brace themselves and take the plunge into all corners of possibilities, to see where King can go. As King writes brief intros to each story, the reader is able to obtain a brief snapshot of where he saw the story germinating and towards what end it might have been led. However, as with anything by Stephen King, the reader is in for an adventure outside of their comfort zone and with little chance to honestly predict all the curves in the road. Some old, some new, but all worth a glance to the curious reader who has an interest in being spellbound.

I was once told that King’s writing was too devilish for my own good and that I ought not waste my time with it. When I did take the time to peel back the rhetoric and explore his writing, I found myself entranced with all he had to say. As King mentions in the introduction to one of his stories, people brand him in a certain way and are unable to see past it, though this collection speaks volumes about his varied abilities. With a wonderful collection of characters, each with their own backstories and lives, King brings everything to life, at times in a handful of typed pages, while others receive scores of literary banter. That is the wonder of the King collection, that he can shift gears so effectively and drastically in such a short time. Some authors have their own telltale mode or signature style, while King utilises his life experiences and personal influences to vary what he has to say and how he goes about bringing an idea to life. As I dabbled in the audiobook version, I was also able to see how different narrators brought the collection to life in their own ways. Not only is King’s writing differentiated, but also the approach used to breathe life into it. For that I cannot speak enough about this collection and the nuances of the literary process found herein. I can usually devour a King book and this collection was no exception.

Kudos, Mr. King for offering me such a wonderful overview of your ideas and abilities. I shall recommend this to all King-doubters to show you are more than crazed clowns and alien probing monsters.