Lately I’d been going through a bit of a reading slump. I picked up and put down a number of novels before deciding on King’s latest short story collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. While I skipped Uncle Stevie’s most recent release, “Finder’s Keepers” – I wasn’t big on its predecessor Mr. Mercedes – I trusted in King to snap me out of my funk. Luckily, my trust was not misplaced.
Within King’s latest short fiction anthology are twenty tales featuring everything from a mystical Kindle that acts as a window to alternate dimensions (UR), to a man with the ability to kill people through writing obituaries (Obit), to a man who finds out what awaits us after death (Afterlife) as well as many other chilling stories. It should be worth noting that only two are previously unpublished (three if you count the fact that Bad Little Kid had yet to be published in English). Luckily for me, I’d only read three of them (Blockade Billy / Mile 81 / Morality), so there was not a lot of overlap.
A few of my favourites include the above mentioned Kindle-centric story UR – which despite initially turning me off due to its blatant product tie-in (first published as a promotional story for the Kindle Singles brand) it managed to shine as a truly original bit of storytelling. I also loved Bad Little Kid, a tale about a bastard of a child who shows up at different points in the life of a man, causing psychological harm to those the man cares about. The final story, Summer Thunder, was a very difficult read as it detailed both the heartbreaking loss of a pet as well as the horror of nuclear war.
I was delighted to see Drunken Fireworks included as it was originally released as an audiobook exclusive this summer. I had downloaded it a few months back but could only stomach a little less than five minutes as I strongly disliked the narrator.
Overall, I was happy with the collection and I think King’s introductions about how each story came to be, added quite a bit to the overall experience. If you’re a fan of King’s other short story collections, I can’t see you walking away disappointed.