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In "Big Driver", a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself.
"Fair Extension", the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.
When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It's a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.
Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By 9S on 01-15-11
Eerie, honest, frightening!
Listening to the first fifteen minutes of King's latest novella were not only mesmerizing but horrifying. My knuckles were white after listening to the opening minutes of 1922. In this story we are introduced to Wilf James, his wife Arlette and son teenage Henry. In just 15 minutes my hands hurt from squeezing the steering wheel. Why? Wilf does not like his wife much. Not much at all. He quickly tells us some of the reasons for his loathing. I do not care much for her myself after listening to Wilf. But Wilf displays his revulsion for Arlette in a way different than I would. He plans, with his son of course, her MURDER. Yep, and he has already discussed her extermination with Henry before we tune in. Does Henry help? I 'ain't' telling. But what happens during those first few minutes of 1922 sets off a rocket that flies an errant path that Wilf never intended it to follow. Nor did I. Nor will you.
1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension and A Good Marriage are all fantastic stories. Some parts of these tales are very, very difficult to listen to. But you will dear reader. By turn I was sympathetic and full of hatred for the "bad" people populating Kings creepy mind. I was surprised at how much sympathy I did have for the villains. That is scarier than any BOO in the dark. And disturbing. There is no way for me to pick any of the four as a favorite. The best I can do is say I loved 'em all and will listen to them again. King gives the listener a lot to think about. The recurring theme in all four stories is the real person inside each of us. A stranger or a monster lurks inside everyone. The stranger we know least lurks in those we love most-how comforting.. Right?
64 of 68 people found this review helpful
By Kimberly on 11-29-10
Compelling narratives, but a good talk spoiled
Many of Stephen King's stories scare me, but few horrify me the way these stories did. I found myself stopping my iPod a few minutes into two of the stories, and it was a couple days before I could bear to go back to them ... but the phobic attraction of King's well-shaped narrative drove me back as surely as the subject matter drove me away.
However, I found Jessica Hecht's narration to sharply undercut the two stories she performed. Although she developed distinctive voices for the characters, her tone was so chirpy that I swear I could HEAR her smiling as she read, and more than once I imagined bluebirds of happiness flitting around my earbuds as I listened. Her tone was much like the one you'd use to read the narration of Lemony Snicket books to children under the age of 8. It was so grating when placed up against very stark and dark prose.
But you'll note that not even a cheerful, chirpy reading of murderous and grisly scenes could tear me away from the stories. King's knack for turning off the lights on the everyday world to show the glow of monsters from within our otherwise familiar surroundings and people kept me "turning the page" and looking forward to every spare minute I had to let the stories unfold a little more, a little more, a little more.
I'm eyeing my neighbors a little more suspiciously this week. I wonder why ...
55 of 59 people found this review helpful