A master storyteller at his best — the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers — the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.
Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader — “I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”
“Renowned author King’s impressive latest collection wraps 20 stories and poems in fascinating commentary…the stories themselves are meditations on mortality, destiny, and regret, all of which showcase King’s talent for exploring the human condition…this introspective collection, like many of King’s most powerful works, draws on the deepest emotions: love, grief, fear and hope.” (Publishers Weekly, STARRED review)
“A gathering of short stories by an ascended master of the form… This collection speaks to King’s considerable abilities as a writer of genre fiction who manages to expand and improve the genre as he works; certainly no one has invested ordinary reality and ordinary objects with as much creepiness as King… Best of all, lifting the curtain, King prefaces the stories with notes about how they came about. Those notes alone make this a must for aspiring writers.” (Kirkus)
“To the reader’s delight, King provides a backstory for each tale, enticing the reader with a memory or scenario that prompted that particular selection’s birth… The stories collected here are riveting and sometimes haunting, as is the author’s style. Surprise endings abound. King is in a class all by himself. Be prepared to read voraciously.” (Library Journal, starred review)
“BAD DREAMS packs plenty of bite into the 20 stories found here… a welcome dose of horror from the modern master. A large helping, too: Dreams weighs in at 495 pages, every one of which whips by as you plunge into one jolting tale after another… in the space of just a few pages, King can leave your nerves thoroughly jangled. As always, King conjures nightmares you don’t necessarily want to wake up from.” (Preston Jones, The Fort Worth Star Telegram)
“[King] has always had a wicked (in more ways than one) sense of humor, too, and it’soften on display along with the scary stuff in his new short story collection, THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS…One of the bonuses of Bazaar is that each story is preceded by a note from the author about its genesis… If you’re looking for King’s paranormal horror side, though, Bazaar has plenty to satisfy you…And if you want King in full funny tall-tale mode, head for Drunken Fireworks. It’s the hilarious story of how its narrator, a Maine native named Alden who lives with his mother in a modest cabin on the ‘town side’ of Abenaki Lake, gets into an ever-escalating Fourth of July arms race with a rich guy on the other shore who’s rumored to be ‘connected,’ if you know what I mean. One lesson: Never buy a firework called Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind.” (Collette Bancroft, The Tampa Bay Times)
“The best stories in THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS are the ones that read like they meant something to King… A Death, which bears the easy, plaintive prose of Kent Haruf, follows a sheriff preparing to go through with the hanging of a man who may have been falsely convicted of murder. Obits channels the snark and cynicism of contemporary culture as its hero, a writer of celebrity death notices for a Gawker-like website, discovers he can kill people by writing their obituaries while they’re still alive. Summer Thunder, the touching post-apocalyptic story that concludes the book, ends on a note of lovely melancholy. Death may be inevitable, King says. But to fret about it or dwell on it is a waste of time when life, even at its most difficult, can bear so many rewards.” (Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald)