Monday, January 09, 2012

Full Dark, No Stars

I often forget how masterful Stephen King is.  My grandmother would buy me one of his books every Christmas, and I always enjoyed them - somehow I never really sought him out on my own, and usually just read the ones she gave me.  Weird.  I remember reading Christine the book and then seeing the movie and I think it's the first time, as a twelve year old I thought "They totally fucked that up!".  It's a delicious book, and a terrible film.  Sorry John Carpenter, it is. 
I haven't read all of King's work and if I'm honest I find that I always tend to prefer his shorter work, especially books that are… kind of anthologies, to his full novels.  That's not to say I don't like a lot of the books of his that I've read.  At any rate here's my thoughts on the four books contained in this collection:

1922:  This one really knocked me on my ass.  It's a simple story of a man trying to protect his land by any means necessary from a wife who would rather sell it and move to the city.  He makes a terrible choice and is haunted by it for the rest of his days.  This story has one of the strongest narrator voices I've read in a long time, you can see it being read by someone like Jeff Bridges or the like.  The story would make a really wonderful film, depressing as shit, but it could be quite lovely.  Not sure it's my kind of thing, but it just might be.  I know that King gives the rights to his stuff away for next to nothing.  Might be worth looking into.  It's a really wonderful read.

BIG DRIVER:  Just like the first in this collection I had a really hard time putting this one down.  It's the story of a detective novelist who becomes the victim of a sex crime and decides that instead of taking her injustice to the police, that she'll take matters into her own hands.  At first I had a hard time buying that this woman wouldn't go to the authorities, if I were to adapt this for the screen I think that there would be ways to fix this in the set-up to the "event" that would make it make more sense before the reveal of what she plans to do.  This is essentially a revenge story as told by Stephen King and it's pretty damn delicious.  The more I read in this collection the more I want to read of King in general. 

FAIR EXTENSION:  This is the shortest of the stories, but it's by no means short on substance.  It's an old story about the man who has been dealt a bad hand, and is offered the chance to change his luck - but he has to give someone else the bad luck in return.  Typically this kind of thing turns around and bites the man back in the ass but the interesting thing about this iteration is that it seems more like an exercise in watching a man enjoy the torment he puts upon someone that he genuinely disliked and thought got a life that they didn't deserve.  Almost similar to Breaking Bad in which we watch a man go from hero to villain.  Like the other two I imagine that you could get an interesting film (probably a short) out of this one.  A nice brisk read.

A GOOD MARRIAGE:  This was a great story to finish off the collection.  It's essentially about the idea of - how well can you know someone?  A woman in a happy marriage of twenty-seven years discovers a very dark secret about her husband and she has to decide what to do about that news… Like all the rest of the stories in this collection it's the story of an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary situation.  All of these stories have made me step back and wonder, well what the hell would I do in that situation?  I won't say which, but I think I'm half and half for which ones I'd be similar to and which ones I'd make the opposite choice.

I can't say that I have a favourite of these four excellent stories.  1922 stands out, but it could be because it was the first and it surprised me.  It's fair to say that any of these could have had that effect had they been the first in the book.  This collection is absolutely a page turner and it really makes me want to read more King once I get through the massive pile of books from the library that are threatening to swallow me whole.  If you're a fan of King you've probably already read this, if you're not then maybe you should consider giving it a shot (so long as you don't mind harsh and somewhat brutal tales - it's not called Full Dark, No Stars for nothing).  I say without exaggeration, this was a pretty excellent work, and each of its stories would make an excellent film...

No comments: