Book Reviews Stephen King

Four Past Midnight – Stephen King

A collection of stories that all have a twist
King has published a few of these collections. Different SeasonsHearts In AtlantisFull Dark No Stars, even the Bachman Books – each features pieces that, for many writers, would be published as individual books. Four Past Midnight is no exception: four stories that cover many different facets of King’s writing, but all intrinsically tied to this stage of King’s career.
4 Past Midnight is a collection of short stories by Stephen King.

The Langoliers

This is the story of the survivors of a mysterious phenomenon which had made 90% of an airplane (crew + passengers) disappear because they happened to be awake. The suvivors find themselves on a colourless alternate universe where everything is lifeless.
Not even the matches would light up. The apathy is caused by a set of creatures who feed on the life essence itself and find madness super sweet.
They decide to fly back through the same worm hole they came in but a few problem arise when the fuel won’t flow, then when it might not light, then the creatures are coming for them and at last, they can’t fall asleep again.
It’s a very good story and it got me thinking once I finished it … because it just happened that I was on an airplane.
It’s a great idea, with the execution both grounded and terrifying. Several of our natural fears are preyed upon – flying, being alone, creatures with scary teeth – but there’s a great second level of terror being worked into the story: the fear of losing (or wasting) time. (The concepts of wasting time and losing control are almost the primary antagonists in this story.)

The secret window

Yes, this 60 page novel has been turned into a 2h boring movie with Johnny Depp.
The difference between the book and the novel is the fact that the endings are completely different! In the movie, Johnny, after going mad (and having a split personality caused by the writer’s block), kills his wife and buries her under some corn in his back yard. In the book, the wife is saved by the sheriff who come to see him as he was acting odd.
Mort had created “Shooter” out of guilt for stealing a story early in his career titled “Crowfoot Mile” and had recently been suspected of another act of plagiarism, although he was innocent the second time., Amy and Ted Milner—a man she had an affair with before divorcing Mort—discuss her ex-husband’s motives. She insists that Mort had become two people, one of them a character so vivid it became real. She then recalls something Tom witnessed; when he drove past Mort alone, he took a look in his rear view mirror…and saw Shooter with Mort, although transparent. Amy then reveals that while digging through Mort’s house, she found Shooter’s trademark hat. She took it out to the trash, and planted it right-side up on a trash bag. When she returned, she found a note from Shooter inside the overturned hat, revealing that he has traveled back to Mississippi with the story he came for, “Crowfoot Mile.” Amy remarks that Mort had created a character so vivid, he actually came to life.
It’s a good novel, too bad they made that horrid movie from it..

The Sun Dog

sundogA Castle Rock-set prelude of sorts to the grotesquely underrated Needful Things (coming up in a few weeks’ time,), it features a camera that, whenever it takes a photograph, shows an unsettling black dog (another of King’s recurring themes, especially relevant in his post-addiction times)
The dog comes closer and closer to the camera with each new picture, until it eventually breaks free of the camera itself.
Again, it’s material that King had played with before, and would do again – the possession (no pun intended) that gives the user more than they ever wanted, exposing them to a terror that they push themselves to explore through their own curiosity – but it’s done succinctly here, and with real control. The inevitability is what pushes the story along – we want to see the dog escape, as horrifying as we know that will be.
In the epilogue, Kevin gets a computer for his following birthday. In order to test its word processor function, he types “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Rather than a printout of this text, the page reads, “The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It’s coming for you, Kevin. It’s very hungry. And it’s very angry.”

The Library Policeman

Four Past Midnight - 03 The Library Policeman title page [illustration by Lars Hokanson]Set in Junction City, Iowa, The Library Policeman is the story of Sam Peebles, a middle-aged businessman who happens to have some overdue books. It seems a minor offense—but not to Junction City’s malevolent monster of a librarian. What follows is spine-tingling suspense as only Stephen King can deliver it.
Having noticed disturbing posters in the children’s library, including one featuring a frightening “Library Policeman” character, he discusses their appropriateness with Ardelia. After being rebuffed by her, Sam checks out the books with the warning that they must be returned on time or else “I’ll have to send the Library Policeman after you.”

Non fuimus, non sumus, atque numquam obliti erimus.

The source of this cannot be found, but the translation appears to be: “We are not, we have never been, and we will never be forgotten.” Perhaps this a reference to the distortions of memory upon which this entire story is based.

Book Reviews

An Evening at GODs – Short Play

A one minit play, 1990

ANGELUS2DARK STAGE. Then a spotlight hits a papier-mache globe, spinning all by itself in the middle of darkness.
Little by little, the stage lights COME UP, and we see a bare-stage representation of a living room: an easy chair with a table beside it (there’s an open bottle of beer on the table), and a console TV across the room. There’s a picnic cooler-full of beer under the table. Also, a great many empties. GOD is feeling pretty good. At stage left, there’s a door.
GOD – a big guy with a white beard – is sitting in the chair, alternately reading a book (When Bad Things Happen to Good People) and watching the tube. He has to crane whenever he wants to look at the set, because the floating globe (actually hung on a length of string, I imagine) is in his line of vision. There’s a sitcom on TV. Every now and then GOD chuckles along with the laugh-track.
There is a knock at the door.
GOD (big amplified voice)
Come in! Verily, it is open unto you!
The door opens. In comes ST. PETER, dressed in a snazzy white robe. He’s also carrying a briefcase.
Peter! I thought you were on vacation!
Leaving in half an hour, but I thought I’d bring the papers for you to sign.
How are you, GOD?
Better. I should know better than to eat those chili peppers. They burn me at both ends. Are those the letters of
transmission from hell?
Yes, finally. Thank GOD. Excuse the pun.
He removes some papers from his briefcase. GOD scans them, then holds out his hand impatiently, ST PETER
has been looking at the floating globe. He looks back, sees GOD is waiting, and puts a pen in his out-stretched
hand. GOD scribbles his signature. As he does, ST. PETER goes back to gazing at the globe.
So Earth’s still there, Huh? After All these years.
GOD hands the papers back and looks up at it. His gaze is rather irritated.
Yes, the housekeeper is the most forgetful bitch in the universe.
An EXPLOSION OF LAUGHTER from the TV. GOD cranes to see. Too late.
Damm, was that Alan Alda?
It may have been, sir – I really couldn’t see.
Me, either.
He leans forward and crushes the floating globe to powder.
GOD (inmensely satisfied)
There. Been meaning to do that for a long time. Now I can see the TV..
ST. PETER looks sadly at the crushed remains of the earth.
Umm… I believe that was alan Alda’s world, GOD.
So? (Chuckles at the TV) Robin Williams! I LOVE Robin Williams!
I believe both Alda and Williams Were on it when you..umm…passed Judgement, sir.
Oh, I’ve got all the videotapes. No problem. Want a beer?
As ST. PETER takes one, the stage-lights begin to dim. A spotlight come up on the remains on the globe.
I actually sort of liked that one, GOD – Earth, I mean.
It wasn’t bad, but there’s more where that came from. Now – let’s Drink to your vacation!
They are just shadows in the dimness now, although it’s a little easier to see GOD, because there’s a faint
nimbus of light around his head. They clink bottles. A roar of laughter from the TV.
Look! It’s Richard Pryor! That guy kills me! I suppose he was…
Ummm… yessir.
Shit. (Pause) Maybe I better cut Down on my drinking. (Pause) Still… It WAS in the way.
Fade to black, except for the spotlight on the ruins of the floating globe.
GOD (muttering)
My son got back, didn’t he?
Yessir, some time ago.
Good. Everything’s hunky-dory, then.
(Author’s note: GOD’S VOICE should be as loud as possible.)

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of 1971. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

He wrote under the pseudonim Richard Bachman and he is wildly known for his complex stories, gripping endings and a hint of supernatural (more in the Dark Tower series). Every book started becoming a best seller and we will name just a few of his over 70 sets of novels and fiction stories: Salem’s Lot, Needful things, Dreamcatcher and the Talisman. Most of his books have been transformed into movies due to his $1 rule. He sold his author rights for a movie to young students for only $1, making lesser known audio-visual students popular after their release. Pet Semetary and Riding the bullet were such movies.
For more info, visit Wikipedia: Stephen King Wiki Page.

Book Reviews

Why Do We Have to Live with Men? Bernadette Strachan

8 Women decided to give up men for various reasons and to isolate themselves in a commune in next to Lyme Regis in England for six whole months. Their lives turn up-side-down as they discover the sense of belonging and friendship that can either bring people together or drive them apart for good.
Why do we have to live with men? As another evening with her best friends and a few bottles of wine comes to an end, Cat O’Connor is left pondering this very question. And, escaping from a ruined love affair, she is about to find the answer. When Cat joins a group of women in a huge, decaying farmhouse deep in the countryside, she prepares to embark on six months without men. Cat is promised a nirvana of serenity where the chores are done without mutinous mutterings, where nourishing food simmers on the Aga and where feelings are taken seriously. But Cat soon discovers that women are no saints either .

Jules’ review

I had this book for a while now and after a short attempt to read it a few months back, I put it on my nightstand with the determination to either read it to the end or abandon it and wrap it nicely as a present for the upcoming birthdays.
It’s a definite keep!
I caught myself laughing really hard and I’m a hard person to please! The female characters are convincing, though quirky, and they each had their share of “scum” men. Stealing from their purses, cheating with dumb bimbos, or hiding a pregnant wife at home… Well, with the last one, I could definitely identify myself.
Having been the “other woman” once in my life, I could definitely see why Cat would fall for a man of life, older, wiser, with a cracking charisma. Well, she had daddy issues, I did not.
And I had to cringe at the scene where the wife visits her lover at work and then demands that she is laid off. The pregnant wife. She wouldn’t be pregnant if her dedicated lover would not have been banging her still. Pardon my French.
At least, in my case, he was quick about it and parted ways with the wifey, but this…. this had to be hard to endure. Come on! A beautiful, sexy, slender and classy wife… and she was , well, Cat. Normal. Just some roll in the hay, never to be serious with.
I had to feel for all of them, even for the small alcoholic of the group. But I loved Dave the most.
Dave was a sow of delicate tail curliness and with a massive ass oiled with the finest Prada creams. 🙂
I loved the way the country side is described, Will the vet, the town “noise” about the women living together and I must say, this story has brought on an urge to go visit the southern part of England again.
And maybe find myself a better man down there.
Favorite parts: walking the pig
Least favorite parts: If Cat loved Will and Will loved Cat – why did she have to go back to London to earn a social studies degree which is worth jack in the country side? She could have gone to vet school too or medicine. And what happened after 10 years when her mom died and could not take care of her brother?
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Overall grade: 4.5/5

Book Reviews

The Little House – Phillipa Gregory

Moving into a new house with your beloved husband and having a baby could be every woman’s dream. What if it becomes her nightmare?
A contemporary psychological thriller in the style of Ruth Rendell, from one of today’s most versatile and compelling storytellers. It was easy for Elizabeth. She married the man she loved, bore him two children and made a home for him which was the envy of their friends. It was harder for Ruth. She married Elizabeth’s son and then found that, somehow, she could never quite measure up! Isolation, deceit and betrayal fill the gaps between the two individual women and between their different worlds. In this complex thriller, Philippa Gregory deploys all her insight into what women want and what women fear, as Ruth confronts the shifting borders of her own sanity. Laying bare the comfortable conventions of rural England, this spine-tingling novel pulses with suspense until the whiplash double-twist of the denouement.

Jules’s Review

5 stars
I must say I never expected that this book would be so good! The cover showed a woman sad and depressed and I thought this would be another story in the style of Jodi Picault in which a major psychological drama will leave you feeling sad for days.
I was prepared when I started reading and without knowing I found myself drawn in into the story.
Ruth is the main character of the story. She’s an accomplished journalist (so a woman with a career) who unfortunately lost her parents in an accident when she was younger.
Looking for her family was a part of her life until she met Phillip (her current husband) who gave her a family (his mother and his father). Polite people, they loved their son over anything and accepted her into their house with open arms.
Ruth could not feel at ease though with them and when they tell them that the house down the road is for sale, Phillip decides to move there against her wish.
Now the funny part with this story is that she does not actually have anything in this life that is hers and hers alone. The apartment where they were living in was owned by his father and he could sell it when he wanted. His father also bought the new house and his mother decorated it for her.
If I had this much involvement from my in-laws into my life, I would go mad. And I think this is where the story got it right.
The “non-interfering”, always there, perfect housewife of a mother-in-law, who always thinks that you are not good enough for her boy, a spoilt husband that could never stand up and do what he needs to do to keep his family happy (let’s say momma’s boy) – the type who does not like to lift a finger around the house and thinks this is his wife’s “job” and a young mother (Ruth) suddenly found herself with a baby she had not planned for, without a job, with a difficult birth and generally alienated from friends in the distant house.
Loved the book. Loved the subtleness of inter-generations conflicts and the pattern into which some women are expected to fall when they become mothers and wifes.
I would not let anyone tell me what to do (and actually do it – I’d let them talk and do it my way either way). I would feel suffocated if anyone chose in my place WHERE I should live, WHAT I should eat and HOW my child would be raised.
Independence is a great asset and individuality should not be forgotten when entering a marriage.
Favourite Scene: When she kills her mother-in-law and gets away with it. Sorry for the spoiler.
Last favourite scene: The alienation and the inability to care for your baby. OK, I understand the C-section and the first milking, but if it were me, I would have tried to breast feed him until I got it right and not given up straight away with “ooh, the baby hates me” thoughts.