Every bookworm, or at least every reader of modern literature written in English, ought to have read a Stephen King story. His “what if . . .?” approach to literary creation has produced remarkable titles and continually reinforces the limitless potential of the human imagination. He’s an extremely talented writer, and he certainly lives up to his name in the world of words.
One of Stephen King’s latest books, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, is a collection of “thrilling stories”. According to King’s note written in 2015, several of the short stories that appear in the book had already been published; many of them however were revisited and revised, because stories, belonging to their own space and time, can certainly take different directions. After an insightful Introduction, King presents to his ‘Constant Reader’ a selection of twenty short stories, some of them varying in length and style.
Each story is dedicated to or written in honour of a certain person in King’s life, and is accompanied by a revelatory preamble stating how the story came to be and its influences. In some of these personal reflections, King offers some insights into the writerly experience.
In the stories themselves, King explores, with raw and bold language pockmarked with expletives, the intricacies of modern life. His characters are almost real, with specific backstories, desires and decisions. And most of these people, because they’re all King’s characters, deal with the versatile theme of death.
For instance, “The Dune” is a short story about people who suddenly die after their names are written on a sand dune. In the story, “Mile 81”, four people are devoured by a mysterious station wagon that oozes out a grey tentacle. “Bad Little Kid” is entertainingly terrifying. It tells the story of a mysterious green-eyed and orange-haired boy who has always caused damage and even death to people that George Hallas cares about. This insidious child sports a beanie with a plastic propeller and comes out of nowhere. “Afterlife” is a short story that captivatingly begins with death and ends with birth. After William “Bill” Andrews crosses the threshold between life and death, he is given two choices: he can relive his life and fix every grave mistake he made or he can simply go through life again from A to Z. Lastly, “Tommy” is the shortest story in the collection, a sort of obituary to Tommy, a companion and colourful embodiment of the 1960s hippie lifestyle.
Young adults and older audiences will enjoy this collection of stories, personally described as a “bazaar”. Feel free to pick and choose which ones you want to read; I’m sure some of them will become your favourites.
REVIEWER: Azariah Alfante
TITLE: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
AUTHOR(S): Stephen King