If you’ve been reading my blog recently or for a while now, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s writing whether it’s his novels or short stories. So naturally, when I saw this in the library, I just had to borrow a copy! Does this collection live up to his other work? Read on to see what I thought…
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.
‘I made them especially for you’, says King. ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’
- Bazaar of Bad Dreams is made up of 20 short stories, ranging in subject matter and character but with common threads of the supernatural, morality, guilt and the afterlife. As with any collection of stories or poems, there will always be ones you enjoy more than others. Unfortunately for me, the stories I did enjoy were few and far between.
My personal favourites:
- Bad Little Kid was both creepy and amusing, a classic King mix – it follows George Hallas, a prisoner who is on death row and is due for execution in a matter of days. He tells his attorney Leonard Bradley about what got him to this point and the tale he spins, is really something. He explains all the terrible moments in his life were caused by one bad little kid – who has tormented him and his loved ones. Bradley believes George is insane… but is he? Or is his tale of the Bad Little Kid true?
- Batman and Robin Have an Altercation, follows a man named Sanderson as he takes his elderly father, who has Alzheimers out for their weekly lunch at Applebees. Although, the father is barely lucid, one of his strongest and most treasured memories is of taking his son trick or treating, dressed as Batman and Robin. On the way back to the nursing home, they run into some trouble which leads to a very twisted ending…
- Morality tells the story of Chad and Nora Callahan, a married couple who are struggling financially and wanting to move away from the city. Nora works as a nurse for retired clergy man George Winston, who is paralysed due to a stroke. Everything is completely normal until one day when Winston proposes a deal to Nora; $200,000 to commit a sin. While Noras initial reaction is disbelief and she refuses, will she be tempted to sin? Even though the sin in question could result in prison time?
- Under The Weather follows an Ad salesman, Brad Franklin as he wakes up after a nightmare. All seems well, as he makes himself breakfast, leaves a note for his sleeping wife Ellen and goes to work. That is until we find out no-one but Brad has seen Ellen for a whole week. And there has been a weird smell in the apartment building…
I found that one of the most fascinating themes within this collection was that of morality and the exploration of human nature. As always, you can rely on King to find the darkness and horror in unexpected places which is interesting as ever.
Overall, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a mixed bag, there’s some you’ll love, some you’ll hate and one or two you may skip all together but it’s definitely worth a read. Perhaps you’ll found a few gems!
★★★ – 3 Star Rating
Does The Bazaar of Bad Dreams seem like a book you’d read? Do you like reading short stories or do you prefer full length novels?
Until next time,