|Collections of King stories
Along with novels and non-fiction, King has also written numerous short stories and novellas, most of which can be found in the various collections that have been published through the years.
"I came to you because I want to tell my story" (The Boogeyman)
The first collection of King short stories, previously published in magazines of very varied style and quality. Here are some genuine classics, such as Quitters Inc, Children of the Corn, The Boogeyman and Strawberry Spring. And let's not forget one his most beautiful stories, The Last Rung on the Ladder, which is very far from horror. Several of the stories here have been turned into bad films.
The forewords by King and John D. MacDonald are both wonderful.
"Are there many more rooms upstairs?"
Novellas. What are those? Well, according to the afterword they're stories of 25000 to 35000 words. These do not snugly fit into any category, and are difficult to publish, being neither short stories nor novels. So they collected four works into one volume, that shows a side of King that not everybody is aware of. Although there are elements of horror these are more "normal" stories, staying pretty much in the world of established fact. What makes them King are, of course, the sheer quality of the stories, their ability to grab the reader's attention and keep it till the final sentence. Some very good films have come from these tales.
One of my favourite places in King's world, the club at 249B EastThirty-fifth Street, is introduced here. Here, stories will always be told, and it is the tale that matters, "not he who tells it".
"Do you love?"
More short stories, very varied in theme and length. From the epic novella The Mist to the short poem Paranoid: a chant, it spans every aspect of human emotion, focusing, of course, on fear. My favourites include Nona, The Raft and Survivor Type, and the non-horror The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet.
Four more novellas, collected in one volume. These are generally longer than the ones in Different Seasons, and closer to horror. The Langoliers is an absorbing tale in the Twilight Zone vein. Secret Window, Secret Garden is another look at writing, focusing on plagiarism. The Library Policeman is a small gem, very King and very good. The Sun Dog is probably the weakest of the bunch, leaving no greater impression.
The third collection of short stories is, perhaps, the weakest. These tales are often from the numerous horror collections that King has contributed to, and though entertaining and well written they rarely approach the brillance of Sceleton Crew and Night Shift. Personally, I would recommend mainly The Ten o'clock People, My Pretty Pony and It Grows on You.
As with almost all of King's later work, obvious ties to the Dark Tower can be found here, but the short stories collected here also remind me of "Night Shift" in their often simple greatness. This is uncomplicated storytelling by a master craftsman, ranging from the darkly comical to the melancholy.