Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stephen King's Everything's Eventual

Once again, I've read another Stephen King masterpiece. Everything's Eventual is an excellent collection of horror that I had trouble putting down. The stories were perfect length as well, letting me read one each day as I exercised. I'm going to focus mostly on my favorite stories in this review, but I will say that every story was worth reading, there were just some that I really liked.

For once, I don't even have really any criticism for this review. The stories I "didn't like" were more out of personal preference than any flaw on the part of the writer, and even those stories I liked at least on some level, even if they weren't normally the types of stories I read. All of them were polished, pretty unpredictable, and intriguing. I definitely recommend this book and I think it's a very good example of the art of the short story. (As, according to the introduction, it was meant to be.)

The Man in the Black Suit - This story stuck with me. It's an example of a sort of modern day folk tale, about a boy who literally meets the devil. (Apparently this was loosely based on the account of the Grandfather of one of Stephen King's friends, which makes it particularly scary. I have no doubt the devil does walk around the earth, since it is his domain.) Anyway, this story actually scared me. The accounts of the dead grass where the devil sat by the kid, and the cruel trick that he plays on him, make this story have an authentic feel. I also particularly like the way the child is able to substitute himself for an abnormally large fish that he caught, meaning the forces of good were also at play in the story as well. It has a very folk tale feel, once again showing us the versatility of Stephen King's writing style.

The Death of Jack Hamilton - This story was particularly interesting to me because I've never really bought into the glamor or the honor involved in the stories of John Dillinger or other famous criminals. I have trouble sympathizing with criminals in general. However, this story actually made me rethink some of that. It's an account about the death of one of Johnnie Dillinger's partner's, Jack Hamilton, from the perspective of Homer Van Meter, one of his gang. The language seems authentic for the time period, and it does portray a more civilized sort of crime and a more sympathetic criminal. I was very impressed by the authentic feel of the story and the fact you end up rooting for the "bad guy" by the end of it. It's a very interesting new take, that I do think could be called a "modern myth".

The Little Sisters of Eluria - This story is an excerpt from Roland the Gunslinger's life. It has the same feel as most stories involving Roland and I love how in all things associated with the Dark Tower series, you can see how fate sweeps Roland away so that he can continue his quest. This is one such story, where Roland is being chased by mutants and winds up in the care of a strange group of women called "The Little Sisters of Eluria." They're nursing him back to help--but there's something sinister about them. Roland soon finds himself in the unusual position of being their helpless "patient" and has to rely on the help of an unlikely source to escape.

Everything's Eventual - This story interested me because it's the same sort of concept of one of the books that I'm currently working on. The main character has a strange psychic ability. His ability involves using geometrical shapes to cause misfortune on an individual whose name he incorporates in his "art." A strange organization finds him and uses his abilities according to a secret agenda. He finds that the benefits of his job don't outweigh the means.

L. T.'s Theory of Pets - This is one of my favorite stories in the book because it is so very true. It's about how pets usually do the opposite of what you expect and how they sometimes take on the attributes of their owners. It's clear that Stephen King has pets (particularly cats) from his descriptions of them in the story. It's an odd tale about a married couple who's relationship is strangely mirrored in the reactions of their animals, but it has a horrific twist at the end that makes the story very sad. Still, overall, it's a very good story and fun to read.

The Road Virus Heads North - This is another of Stephen King's stories that is terrifying to read, but would be cheesy as a movie. The story is about a writer who purchases a possessed painting. The character in the painting is a man with filed teeth, a long knife, tattoos, and a hot car, and an expression says that he's clearly up to no good. As the main character is driving home, however, he realizes the painting is changing and the background shows that "The Road Virus" is following him home.

Lunch at the Gotham Cafe - This story is interesting because the married couple featured in the story seem just as crazy as the maitre d' who goes knife-wielding crazy while waiting their table. (It's the story the cover of the book is based on.) This story was scary to me because really anyone in any position could be the maitre d'. Even the main character can almost understand why he snapped and how he probably feels inside.

1408 - Again, even though I know the movie can't be as good as the short story, I have to see it now. 1408 was the scariest haunted hotel room story that I've probably ever read. The opening sets up a very eerie tone as the hotel manager explains that there were a dozen suicides in the room and thirty natural deaths associated with it. The main character is a writer who basically makes a living off of staying in haunted rooms and places, pretending to actually feel a presence, when in fact, nothing every really happened to him. That all changes very quickly as he almost faces what drove those people to suicide as the room around him begins to change...

Riding the Bullet - I really enjoyed this story and it's probably one of my favorites in this book as well. The characters in the story feel very believable. The story is a different take on the ghostly hitchhiker tales. In this case, the human hitchhiker is picked up by a strange sort of ghost. Still, this ghost seems more material than those in most stories, and the creature gives our hitchhiker a very terrible, terrible choice--his life, or the life of his mother.

Even though I love Stephen King, I've decided to switch to Ted Dekker's "The Books of History Chronicles" series. These are the only books I have left spinning off from "The Circle" series, except for the book "Green" which came out recently. I also recommend Ted Dekker as a writer, and I'll probably put a review up of his books at a later date. In the meantime, please pick up and enjoy "Everything's Eventual." You'll be glad that you did.

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