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Just After Sunset: Storiesby Stephen King
Synopses & Reviews
Stephen King — who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies — delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago.
As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.
Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating — and then terrifying — journey.
Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable — and resourceful — as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment.
In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.
Just After Sunset — call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.
"In the introduction to his first collection of short fiction since Everything's Eventual (2002), King credits editing Best American Short Stories (2007) with reigniting his interest in the short form and inducing some of this volume's contents. Most of these 13 tales show him at the top of his game, molding the themes and set pieces of horror and suspense fiction into richly nuanced blends of fantasy and psychological realism. "The Things They Left Behind," a powerful study of survivor guilt, is one of several supernatural disaster stories that evoke the horrors of 9/11. Like the crime thrillers "The Gingerbread Girl" and "A Very Tight Place," both of which feature protagonists struggling with apparently insuperable threats to life, it is laced with moving ruminations on mortality that King attributes to his own well-publicized near-death experience. Even the smattering of genre-oriented works shows King trying out provocative new vehicles for his trademark thrills, notably "N.," a creepy character study of an obsessive-compulsive that subtly blossoms into a tale of cosmic terror in the tradition of Arthur Machen and H.P. Lovecraft. Culled almost entirely from leading mainstream periodicals, these stories are a testament to the literary merits of the well-told macabre tale." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[S]uccinct, fast-moving.... This collection's most successful stories start unprepossessingly but then head for unknown territory, off in the far reaches of Mr. King's imagination." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[A] marvelous addition to the library of King's more concise fictions.... Never, in fact, has King seemed more mature (well, he is 61) or more sure of himself as a writer." Kansas City Star
"[T]he stories in this book are representative of King's current writing powers: those of a natural storyteller whose creative forces have actually strengthened and whose scope has most definitely broadened as he enters the third act of a long and fruitful career." The Denver Post
"Like any Halloween bag of swag, there are morsels here to savor and others to pass up. But King fans are sure to find enough to sate the appetite." Hartford Courant
"Many of Sunset's stories have the aura of classic Twilight Zone episodes. And no matter your taste in frightful fantasies, there's something here for everybody.... All 13 stories are wonderfully wicked..." USA Today
"An uneven collection, but King has plainly had a ball writing these stories." Kirkus Reviews
"As always, King is a master storyteller. No reader can help but identify with some of these characters.... Retirement has definitely not slowed this sexagenarian down. King hasn't lost his touch in his 'dotage.'" Rocky Mountain News
In his first collection in six years, Stephen King delivers his strongest, most broadly appealing stories ever.
"Gingerbread Girl," published in Esquire in July 2007 (unprecedented in number of magazine pages devoted to it), is set, like Duma Key, in Florida. It is a riveting, fabulously dramatic stalker tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable and resourceful as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark.
"Willa," published in Playboy, blurs the lines between living and the dead. "Ayana," one of the most beautifully written and haunting stories, was published in the Paris Review. From the subtle and disturbing to the outright terrifying, these tales will thrill every known King fan and win new ones.
Following his two recent critically acclaimed bestsellers, Duma Key and Lisey's Story, celebrated author King delivers a stunning collection of short stories, his first in six years.
Master storyteller Stephen King presents a revolutionary new form of entertainment: his short story "N." brought to vibrant life through a series of 25 graphic video episodes. The original series tells the story of a psychiatrist who falls victim to the same deadly obsession as his patient — an obsession that just might save the world!
Drawn by award-wining comic book artist Alex Maleev, and colored by famed comic book colorist Jose Villarrubia, the episodes were adapted by Marc Guggenheim, co-creator of the ABC-TV series "Eli Stone" with creative oversight from Stephen King.
Check out all the episodes here.
About the Author
Few authors have tapped into our secret fears as adeptly as Stephen King, Master of the Macabre and one of the most widely read novelists writing today. With his trademark blend of fantasy, horror, and psychological suspense, this prolific and immensely popular contemporary writer continues to remind us that evil is still a potent force in the world.
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