Okay, my latest book is Just After Sunset by Stephen King. Here is the Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6001549-just-after-sunset. As usual I must alert you in the very beginning that this contains a good number of spoilers, so be careful. Be very careful.
This is a book that contains a total of 13 short stories. Normally I am not a big fan of short stories, and honestly speaking, when I bought the book, I didn’t realize it consists of short stories. Nothing on the cover indicated that it is a book of short stories and I usually tend not to examine the insides of the books too much when buying, apart from taking a peak at the font size and line spacing as thick books with tiny font and tiny line spacing appeal to me the most. I kinda hate it when my book ends. OK, enough of my rambling.
Stephen King is a very well know, famous author. Known for writing stories that consist of a big imagination and a lot of suspense and mystery. And he mainly focuses on short stories. Apparently he has written around hundreds of short stories. This was my first time ever reading a Stephen King book and maybe only the third time I ever read a book on short stories, and I was really impressed with what I read.
I guess I should review each story one by one because they were all so unique and excellent in their own way. It would not do the book justice if I just clumped all the stories together into one general review. So bear with me as this might turn into a long review, as there are a total of 13 stories.
1. “Willa” – A bit creepy to be honest. Its about ghosts. But I couldn’t even tell it was about ghosts until like after the story ended and I thought I must re-read some parts to get a clear picture of what I just read. Maybe I am just slow, that is why I didn’t get it at first, I don’t know. Still it was very interesting to read about these people who were waiting at this train station for their next train.
2. “The Gingerbread Girl” – This story gives a good message in it. About how if you just try to simply run away from one mess, you can easily land into another one. The lady in this story, her baby daughter has died. So to escape that she runs away from her husband and her home to a home her father owns on the beach. There she has to run to save her very life. Lots of suspense and full of emotion. Makes you want to read more and more.
3. “Harvey’s Dream” – This story is about a couple, a husband and wife. The husband has Alzheimer's disease and the wife is unhappy with her life. They have two daughters, both of whom are adults and have moved out. Harvey, the husband, had a dream last night about one of the daughters being in an accident and there is a possibility that the dream is coming true today. Personally, this is a story that I don’t really care for that much. It was actually quite lame, if you ask me.
4. “Rest Stop” – This involves a guy who is on a road trip and he has stopped at one of those rest stops that they have on the highways to take a break. Over there he overhears a disturbing argument in one of the bathroom stalls between a man and a woman and the guy contemplates what to do. This if he should intervene or not. This is an excellent story. It really makes you think about ethics and human nature along with making you ask yourself the question, “What would I have done if I were in this individual’s shoes?”
5. “Stationary Bike” – This involves a guy who has been forced to exercise due to is weight issues reaching epic proportions. As the character of the book is forced to exercise on this stationary bike in his basement, with no TV set or radio or any other form of entertainment available to him, he day dreams to pass the time. This story basically just explores his big imagination. This is another story that I don’t care for and find kind of lame because I couldn’t even follow what was going on.
6. “The Things Left Behind” – This story has a very interesting theme. It deals with the phenomenon known as Survivor’s Guilt and talks of a post 9/11 world. This story revolves around a guy who worked in the World Trade Centre but did not turn up for work on the actual day of 9/11 because he was home sick with the flu. It is a classic case of Survivor’s Guilt. The main character of the story feels that he belonged in the World Trade Centre that day and he should have died with his colleges like he was supposed to, but he didn’t hence he is experiencing extreme guilt over his survival. These feelings of guilt affect his mind so much that he feels that inanimate objects in his apartment have taken life and each object is representing a colleague each. A must-read story! Highly recommended.
7. “Graduation Afternoon” – This story revolves around a lady and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is part of New York’s high society, at this girl finds that this high society business is not her thing. It is all is taking place in the afternoon, and it is this very evening that their high school graduation is taking place. All of a sudden a nuclear bomb or something like that explodes in New York and everyone is staring at the aftermath. Personally, I think this story is one of the lamest things I’ve ever read. Just skip this story and move on.
8. “N” – This deals with a psychiatrist and his patient who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The patient is mad, so to speak, and eventually the psychiatrist drifts into the patient’s madness to the extent that the psychiatrist commits suicide. A very fascinating and intense story that captures the reader’s imagination at the very beginning. Reading the story reminded me of the words I heard during the trailer of Mental, “The journey through the mind is a radical journey”. A must read highly recommended story!
9. “The Cat From Hell” – This story revolves around, err, the cat from hell. The title explains it all. A murderous violent cat who has the blood of so many people on their hands. Very interesting, but its not a story for the faint hearted as there are sections that are kind of gruesome and maybe even disturbing.
10. “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates” – This revolves around a lady who received a phone call from her dead husband. Apparently her husband calls her from the afterlife telling her not to go to a certain bakery on Sundays because on one Sunday a bomb will explode there, and that is what happened three years later. Good story but the conclusion was super lame. Like super lame.
11. “Mute” – Revolves around a guy who picks up a hitchhiker who was holding a sign that had the words written on it, “I am mute”. The guy assumes the hitchhiker is a deaf-mute when he is actually just a mute (can hear but cannot speak) so he tells the passenger the problems with his marriage. Turns out that a few days later his wife is murdered and the evidence kind of suggests the mute is behind it. Very fascinating story. Another must read.
12. “Ayana” – Apparently this story deals with aliens from outer space or some other mystical beings that have the ability to cure illnesses or injuries that conventional medicine has declared incurable. These beings kiss the ill or injured individual and that individual gets healed. This story does have the nice theme of believing in the power of miracles. Even though personally I like the theme of believing in the power of miracles, I kind of found this story to be really creepy and disturbing to the extent that I personally feel that I was better off not reading it.
13. “A Very Tight Place” – This story deals with two feuding neighbours. The two neighbours are fighting over the custody of a piece of land. One of the neighbours decides to take matters into his own hands and tries to “get rid” of the other neighbour. It’s very interesting to see how the entire feud unfolds and the ending does have a nice twist to it. Not a story to be read by the faint hearted as it does get quite gruesome and yucky at several parts.
Overall, this is an excellent book. I would strongly recommend it. The stories are very interesting and captivating. Each story felt like it was its own mini stand alone novel. All of the stories have a lot of suspense and grip your imagination in the very beginning. This is a book that is difficult to put down. Once you get into it, you want to keep on reading it, story after story, after story. Agreed, some parts were creep and are not for the fainthearted, but from what I have heard, that is typical of Stephen King’s works, so no worries there.