The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: (4 / 5)
“I’ve made some things for you, Constant Reader; you see them laid out before you in the moonlight. But before you look at the little handcrafted treasures I have for sale, let’s talk about them for a bit, shall we? It won’t take long. Here, sit down beside me. And do come a little closer. I don’t bite. Except . . . we’ve known each other for a very long time, and I suspect you know that’s not entirely true. Is it?”
This was another of the audiobooks that accompanied my husband and myself on our recent road trip to San Francisco.
One of my favourite parts of any Stephen King book is the author’s notes. And one of the best parts of this book, is that not only are the “main” notes there, but there are also additional notes on each story in this collection – and on the audiobook version, these are read by King.
And it’s wonderful. I love knowing all the little things that went into each story, the inspirations for characters and the reasons he chose certain settings, or even why a story has meaning to him personally more or less than some of the others, because of how it intersected with what was or had happened in his life. There is lots and lots of this in this book, and if you don’t like or appreciate that kind of content, this book may not be for you, because it’s heartily filled in on these pages.
The stories in this collection vary, but all have a theme of mortality. I really had to struggle to “shelve” this as a category, and settled on mystery because that’s the closest I could get. But truly, there are mysterious stories and humourous stories and horror stories and general fiction stories. It crosses back and forth across genres, but death and mortality are with you all the way.
Two of the stories made me cry. One because I wasn’t home at that moment and couldn’t hug my dog and really, really needed to.
One made me stop the audiobook because it was grossing me out and I needed a minute before I could go on. It’s harder to skim the icky parts in an audiobook!
Several of the stories have serious shock value – moments where things go just that moment too far where I’m wondering if King is just trying to make me turn pale. (It usually works). You might not want to read this alone in the dark. Have someone handy whose hand you can hold.
This is a great book for fans of Stephen King, but I think it’s also a great book for a couple of other categories of people.
Firstly, if you’ve never read King before, and want to get a feeling for what his writing is like, this is an excellent starter volume. So many people think he writes only horror, and that’s far from the truth. This shows you how well he writes across genres, how strong his character development can be, even in short pieces, and how nicely plotted and paced his work is.
Secondly, if you are a writer, or an aspiring writer, this book is full of information, because of the author’s notes I mentioned above. It may even inspire you to pick up King’s book “On Writing” which is excellent as well.
I very much enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.