Wednesday, December 29, 2010
FULL DARK, NO STARS
by Stephen King
Pre-release anticipation of King’s latest book, a collection of four novellas, included comparison to similar groupings of his long fiction, Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. Long-time King fans can’t be faulted for their hopefulness, either. Not only does King nail the novella more often than not, but of the eight stories in the aforementioned books, five were made into movies or television miniseries; some of the better adaptations of his work, depending on whom you ask.
Full Dark, No Stars comes out of the gate strong with ‘1922.’ It is about a farmer who confesses to the murder of his wife in that titular year. There’s more than a touch of the supernatural in the story, but it doesn’t overpower the simple and reality-based ways in which the men’s lives fall apart in the years following their crime. It’s an altogether satisfying tale in the classic King style. ‘Big Driver,’ the second story, is about a mystery writer who does a bit of sleuthing (and leaves behind quite a mystery herself) after being raped and left for dead on the way home from a public appearance. Like ‘1922,’ ‘Big Driver’ could readily be adapted for television, though the latter might be more comfortable on Lifetime.
'Fair Extension’ is the shortest and easily most-disposable story in the book. Calling it a story is a technicality even, since it’s really only a description of the bad things that happens to one man’s family after another throws him under the bus in a deal with the Devil. The collection finishes with ‘A Good Marriage,’ about a woman who discovers that her husband has spent the last thirty years of their marriage as a particularly vicious serial killer. The ending was fairly predictable (there’s only so many credible ways for a story like this to end) but half the fun is getting there, as they say, and this one was true to pattern. It probably wouldn’t make a good movie, as it’s comprised heavily of internal dialogue, but it’s a good read that, in concert with the first two stories, makes up for the third.
Overall, Full Dark, No Stars should satisfy most King fans. The writing style is vintage King, asymmetrical to either his novel Under the Dome or his short fiction Just After Sunset, reminding us why he is the Master.
Buy it here.
Reviewed by Lincoln Crisler.
Lincoln Crisler is a United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer and the author of two collections of dark stories, Magick & Misery (2009, Black Bed Sheet) and Despairs & Delights (2008, Arctic Wolf). He lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and two of his three children. You can visit his website at www.lincolncrisler.info.