Just After Sunset by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Willa: After a train derails leaving its passengers stranded, David Sanderson's wife wanders away from the station and he goes looking for her.
On the surface, this was a tale of people who don't realize that they're ghosts dealing with their fate. Beneath, I think it's about how time slips away and the deeper the rut you get into, the harder it is to get out and do something new. His Kingship picked a good tale to start the collection with.
Gingerbread Girl: After leaving her husband, Emily takes up running on the beach. Her life is turning around until she runs afoul of killer!
This was a pretty gripping tale about a woman running for her life from a serial killer. Serial killers have been done to death but King makes a good tale out of it.
Harvey's Dream: A woman in a boring marriage is surprised when her husband wants to share a dream of his with her.
This one felt like a well-written Twilight Zone episode to me. The characters felt very real to me.
Rest Stop: A writer on the way home stops at a rest area to pee and interrupts a man beating his wife.
This one was okay. It dealt a little with identity but was mostly a writer gathering up the courage to do something about a bad situation.
Stationary Bike: An overweight commercial artist gets a stationary bike. Twilight Zone style weirdness ensues.
Yeah, I kind of liked this but it was a little long for what it was. Stationary bike takes guy into his drawing, guys working inside his body to keep his body healthy, it was a strange ride that ultimately went nowhere. See what I did there?
The Things They Left Behind: Mysterious objects appear in a 9/11 survivor's apartment, objects belonging to his deceased co-workers.
Another Twilight Zone-ish story that should have been a lot shorter.
Graduation Afternoon: A young woman knows she's attending one of her boyfriend's family's gatherings for the last time. It turns out being the last in more ways than one.
N: A psychiatrist commits suicide and his sister reads the file on his last patient, an OCD man named N.
Holy shit! I enjoyed the hell out of this one. An OCD guy's rituals keeping a world devouring monster straight out of H.P. Lovecraft at bay? Loved it!
The Cat From Hell: A pharmaceutical millionaire hires a hitman to kill... a cat?
Pretty brutal. You can tell this one was early King, especially compared to the writing style of the other stories. No wonder it was featured in Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie.
The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates: A woman gets an unexpected phone call from her dead husband.
Yawn. Another plane crash-related tale. King's getting soft in his old age.
Mute: After finding out his wife has been having an affair, a man picks up a deaf-mute hitchhiker and bares his soul. But was the man really deaf?
This confessional tale was pretty good. King likes his shorts Twilight Zone-ish, doesn't he?
Ayana: This was a tale about miracles. It was a little Hallmark-y for my taste.
A Very Tight Place: A guy gets trapped inside a Johnny-On-The-Spot by his vindictive neighbor.
This was a revenge story that wasn't shitty despite the setting.
Closing Thoughts: Not a bad short story collection. N and the Cat from Hell were my favorites. I wouldn't say any of the stories were duds but this wasn't my favorite King collection. Three out of five stars.
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