My birthday gifts came a day early, and so did my untimely death because this is the cutest shit I’ve ever seen. And there’s even MORE, a personalized crossword? A ceramic planter that was coincidentally made the first day we talked? The fuck? A little yarn pumpkin that I think is unrelated but is still cute? Absolutely.
Just wrapped up The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, the only Stephen King short story collection that somehow managed to slip by me (no surprise, considering it came out in 2015, a year we don’t talk about in this house, thank you very much). It’s interesting seeing how King’s style has shifted with his age; there are still supernatural elements in some stories here, but almost entirely as a backdrop for stories about loss, nostalgia, and death, first and foremost.
King’s short stories come in two forms, really: The ones that emotionally resonate, and the ones that are riveting purely for the ideas the man can cook up. This collection is made up nearly entirely of the former (and to be fair, that may not be a fair metric considering how drug addled he was in his younger days), but not without some enjoyably interesting setups and King’s usual knack for forming an entirely believable character in two sentences. Most stories here fizzle rather than end in a pileup, but I think that’s fair in a collection of more ruminating on the human condition via character studies than real 0-to-60 fastballs.
This is a different pace than typical King, but I enjoyed it for what it was. I don’t think it’ll hold up to my first memories of reading Skeleton Crew or Everything’s Eventual as a kid, but as an older, more tired version of that kid, I can dig it. I teared up a few times, I laughed a few others, I wished I was a better author, and when I put the book down for the final time, I went and spent a good half hour hugging my dog. Fair warning.