Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just After Sunset.

Title/Author: Just After Sunset by Stephen King (Audio).

Genre: Horror.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: None.

Favorite quote: “In New York even the deliverymen were critics.” ~From The Things They Left Behind.

All in all: I liked some stories better than other, but it was entertaining.

Synopsis: Call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it apears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you.  It's the perfect time for Stephen King.

My Thoughts: Sometimes it’s hard to share thoughts on a work of short stories. They’re all different...some I like better than others. Also since it’s an audio book, there is more potential for zoning out and King uses a lot of backstory…a lot, which is also causes a potential for zoning out.  Sometimes I’m not sure if all the detail is necessary, but that is Stephen King’s way. He writes to convey certain reasoning and character traits to the reader.

I did like the narration, like the stories themselves, some more than others. I liked when Stephen King himself read his story. That was cool. To be read a story by Stephen King? Okay, maybe he’s not sitting at my bedside with an open book in his hand, but still, I liked it. Mare Winningham had a surprisingly nice reading voice and Jill Eikenberry was great too. I also really loved the reader in the story “N” who read the part of the psychiatrist.

King has the ability to electrify me with descriptions.  I could be extremely uncomfortable and  mesmerized by poetic words in one paragraph.  The details and thought he puts into his writing has the ability to strip away the character’s dignity and delve into their innermost thoughts.

I won’t go over all the stories in this book, I’ll just tell you about a few of the ones I liked.

The Gingerbread Girl.  This story kept me on the edge of my seat, even though it is almost exactly like the book Intensity by Dean Koontz. It had lots of back story before the action kicked in but it served the purpose of the plot and the main character's behavior.

Willa and New York Times at Special Bargain Rates.  These were both nice ghost stories and reminded me of Twilight Zone episodes. My favorite line from Willa is when her fiancĂ© is describing her he notes that she is “Willa on the edge of a smile.”  They stood out because they were gentle and prodded the reader with imagery and storyline as opposed to stronger tactics.

Mute.   This mystery unfolded in an interesting way with twists, turns and suspense.  It is about a man and his unfaithful wife with a gambling problem and what ultimately happens to her.  What is shocking and surprising about it is the chain of events.  It is a story within a story, in a way, yet it was easy to follow.  It kept me guessing and wondering all the way until the end.

N.  This wasn't my favorite story, but it was the weirdest.  It also had my favorite narrator, who read the pyshiatrist’s pov. This story is about OCD, or maybe it's about the ultimate patient to doctor transference or maybe it is about a sinister dimension that only few can see.  It was very surreal. There is a video of N that you can watch HERE.

Hell Cat.  Some of the things coming out of my mouth as I listened to this story: “Ugh.  Oh my God, ohmygodohmygod.  Oh God.  Gross."  It was horrific and hysterical at the same time.  This story was actually made into an episode of Tales from the Darkside. And after I heard that I think I remembered it. And yeah, still ugh, gross, ick!

Harvey’s Dream.  This story was suggested reading for one of my Horror writing classes. It’s about a dream that becomes a nightmare and the growing horror that it is more than a dream. If you’ve ever experienced a dream, feeling or vision when you knew something was wrong with one of your loved ones, this story will hit close to home.

The Things They Left Behind.  This is a post-9/11 ghost story. It’s about guilt and closure. It was sad, bittersweet and very difficult to listen to.   What is really touching is the way that King brings to life victims of the terrorist attack through beach parties and photographs.  It also has a creepy touch of the supernatural.  There were parts that gave me goosebumps.

Ayana.  This was another sweet story and it was about miracles. There was something odd and unsettling about the characters.  King mentioned in his end notes that he wrote this because he wanted to explore questions, not answers.

A Very Tight Place.  I was not going to mention this story.  I thought it was good, but I didn't like it.  Yet, I keep thinking about it.  It's about a man who is trapped in a Port-O-San.  In the summer.   King explores physical discomfort and mental anguish in the extreme.  I'm getting the heebee-jeebies just thinking about it.

Stephen King's end notes explains where each story comes from, but I liked that he revealed he wrote them because he wanted to pass on to the reader what frightens him.  I think that is King's goal with everything he writes and he has a huge body of work to show this.  If you like scary short stories you may want to try Just After Sunset to see what gets passed on to you.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.



Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I love King short stories! I'm listening to Lisey's Story right now on cd- it's one of the few King books I've never read (although I started it when it first came out, I just couldn't get past a certain point). He's got another Dark Tower book coming out- he call's it book 4.5, since it's in-between books. I'm just waiting for him and his son, Joe Hill, to write something amazing together!

Smash Attack Ash said...

I haven't read short stories from King in years, but I agree. He can creep you out and mesmerize you in one sentence. He's fantastic at his craft!

Jenny said...

Wow, fantastic review! That cover is pretty trippy, my eyes go all wonky when I try and stare at it for too long. Stephen King never ceases to amaze me, his stories are always so fascinating (though I think I'll pass on Hell Cat, I'm not sure "oh gross" is what I want coming out of my mouth while I'm reading;). Love that he narrated one of the stories as well, that's very cool!

Savannah said...

This sounds like great stories. I may have to pick this up. Nice review!

Anonymous said...

Hiya! Stopping by for this week's Friday Follows, and may I say nice review, Midnyte -- I was waiting to hear your thoughts on Monsieur King :-) I'm glad to hear you generally enjoyed this collection, although I, too, haven't read a King collection in years.

Have a great weekend!

Midnyte Reader said...

@Kate-I can't wait to read your review on Lissey's Story.
@Smash-This was the first King book I read in a long time too!
@Jenny-Hell Cat was pretty icky, but I have a strong stomach.
@Savvy-I would say get it from the library, just in case you don't love all the stories.
@Darkeva-I've liked many other King books more, but this was entertaining and it's always nice to hear/read his stuff.

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