25 June 2013

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

This book contains four stories:

  • 1922 -- Murder on the plains, and its consequences.
  • Big Driver -- a writer returning from a public appearance has bad luck on the road.
  • Fair Extension -- in which one of literature's more classic characters makes an appearance.
  • A Good Marriage -- a wife finds out more than she would like to about her husband.
Stephen King is someday going to be known as a great writer of our time. Unfortunately, I think he's been given short shrift by the literary community, probably considered a "genre" writer, and isn't seriously considered to be among the current greats. No matter: I have spent some genuinely wonderful hours reading King's work, and this book was everything I could have hoped it to be. 

King has perhaps matured, or cooled down, or become a little less fantastic in his storytelling; but I wish to say that such great works of fantasy as "It," "The Stand,"  "Salem's Lot," or "The Shining" lose nothing by their inclusion of forces and beings from dimensions not normally experienced in reality. For that matter, "The Shining" was not driven by fantasy so much as alcoholism, and a terrible dementia no less real for having been vividly described. 

Full Dark, No Stars contains almost no ghosts. The gentleman in "Fair Extension" may be fantastic, but his existence has been fairly well accepted by human beings for many centuries. Instead, this book has, in King's own words, "ordinary people in extraordinary situations." (from the Afterword) 

I have tried my best in Full Dark, No Stars to record what people might do, and how they might behave, under certain dire circumstances. The people in these stories are not without hope, but they acknowledge that even our fondest hopes ... may sometimes be vain. ...nobility ... resides ... in trying to do the right thing ... when we fail ... hell follows. (ibid)

I know from other readings that King has a background of New England Protestant religion, and whether or not he personally believes in Hell, I know that its geography is familiar to him. King is a journeyman writer, who has literally written more books than I have been able to read, and I admire him beyond measure.

I can't recommend this book strongly enough. Go get it, and read it. Enjoy.