Just after Sunset

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Overview

Internationally bestselling author Stephen King—who has written more than fifty books, dozens of #1 New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies—delivers an astonishing collection of short stories. 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 ...

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Just after Sunset

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Overview

Internationally bestselling author Stephen King—who has written more than fifty books, dozens of #1 New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies—delivers an astonishing collection of short stories. 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 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.

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  • Stephen King's "N." Episode 1
    Stephen King's  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wonderfully wicked." — Carol Memmott, USA Today

"King is as sharp and versatile as ever." — Erica Noonan, Boston Globe

"Quietly dazzling." — Ted Anthony, Associated Press

"King continues to be dedicated to giving his readers a luxuriant experience, the basic pleasure of getting lost in a book." — Charles Taylor, New York Times Book Review

"King lets the reader put the book down at night after one story, knowing another horrific treat awaits the next day." — Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post Dispatch

"King is as sharp and disgusting as ever... Haunting." — People magazine

"King reminds us again of his power to unhinge with a single line or image. A master of the storytelling craft, he gets his ghastly fingernails right beneath the skin." — John Marks, Salon.com

"In these 13 newly collected stories, we see a master craftsman at the top of his game and clearly enjoying himself.... Each story is a treat not just for King fans but for any fan of good fiction." — Salem Macknee, Charlotte Observer

"A master storyteller... Haunting." — Karen Sandstrom, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Janet Maslin
…[a] succinct, fast-moving collection…This collection's most successful stories start unprepossessingly but then head for unknown territory, off in the far reaches of Mr. King's imagination.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

King’s latest anthology reminds readers that while his many works contains supernatural elements, his true skill as a writer lies in his ability to tap into the minds of his characters and, more importantly, his readers. The story topics are scattered, but most have that signature King style that blurs the line between fiction and reality. His most effective story, “N,” is a tale about obsession and compulsion that will make even the mellowest listeners a bit paranoid. Part of the beauty of this tale is the use of multiple narrators for different points of view. Using a different narrator for each story works well. (Ron McLarty’s Stationary Bike and Mare Winningham’s The Gingerbread Girl were previously produced and released as solo efforts.) King reads the introduction, one story and the end notes about each story. While not necessarily of the same caliber as his co-narrators (including Jill Eikenberry, Holter Graham, George Guidall, Denis O’Hare and Karen Ziemba), his ability as a narrator has improved significantly over the years. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 1). (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In King's latest collection of short stories (following 2002's Everything's Eventual ), he presents 14 tales that range from the philosophically themed, to one in which the author gleefully admits to playing with the gross-out factor ("A Very Tight Place"), to "The Cat from Hell," which makes its hardcover debut some 30 years after its original publication as part of a contest in Cavalier , one of the gentleman's magazines that put food on the table in King's early years as a writer. In his introduction, King cites his recent stint as guest editor for the 2007 edition of Best American Short Stories as an impetus to return to the form in his own writing. Several of the works included here were written following that experience. Finally, as King has done previously in his collections, at the end of the volume he provides the reader with brief insights into the inspirations for each tale. Recommended for all popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/08.]-Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT

Kirkus Reviews
King (Duma Key, 2008, etc.) returns with his first volume of short stories in six years. The author explains in his introduction that the opportunity to edit the annual Best American Short Stories anthology reignited his interest in the form, which had supported him when the fledgling novelist submitted stories to men's magazines. His afterword provides contextual comment on each of the 13 selections, including the revelation that "The Cat from Hell"-about a killer feline and the hit man hired to bump it off-dates back 30 years to those pulp-fiction days. Yet most of the rest are recent, allowing King to exorcise demons (the fear of being trapped in a porta-potty in "A Very Tight Space," the ambivalence about interfering in a violent domestic quarrel in "Rest Stop") and dreams (the marital entropy of "Harvey's Dream," the mushroom cloud of "Graduation Afternoon"). Though much of this lacks the literary ambition of King's recent novels, "Stationary Bike" provides a compelling portrait of creative psychosis-how a metaphor suggested by a doctor to describe an artist's high cholesterol inspires a painting that becomes the artist's reality-while the contagious obsessive compulsive disorder in "N." ranks with King's best work (it is also the newest story here). There's also an obligatory 9/11 response ("The Things They Left Behind") and a story that blurs the distinction between the living and the dead (the opening "Willa"). Like episodes from The Twilight Zone, many of the stories hinge upon "a small but noticeable hole in the column of reality." As King writes, "[I]t's how we see the world that keeps the darkness beyond the world at bay." And he tells the reader, "I hope at least one of [thestories] keeps you awake for awhile after the lights are out."An uneven collection, but King has plainly had a ball writing these stories.
The Barnes & Noble Review
For starters, let's set aside the irrelevant arguments about Stephen King's place in the canon of American literature: i.e., what's a nice, lowbrow hack like him doing in a swanky establishment like The Paris Review, Esquire or -- gasp! -- The New Yorker? Furthermore, aren't his "literary" novels, like Lisey's Story and Duma Key, merely transparent attempts to earn respectability among highbrow critics (who, truth be told, are probably reading Pet Semetary behind that copy of Ulysses on their subway commute)? For the moment, let's shrug off the truly Needless Things: the natterings about the value of genre literature that have shadowed King ever since the publication of the tales in Different Seasons, his first evident steps out of the puddle of gore toward fiction that had a deeper purpose than the quick, cheap scare.

What it comes down to, Constant Reader, is this: does the fiction of Stephen King provoke, delight, transport, or enlighten? If yes to any of them (bonus points when all four qualities coalesce), then he has succeeded. To frighten readers -- which he does better than any other writer in the past century -- is gravy.

The majority of readers coming to this collection, Just After Sunset, will show up just for the gravy; and, yes, King ladles large helpings of it in these 13 stories. But, to extend the analogy, there is plenty of meat here, too: longing, tenderness, regret, happiness, despair, hope -- the great stew of human emotions about which writers with names like Flaubert, Joyce, Proust, Woolf, and James once spilled gallons of ink. To say King is "just a horror writer" does a disservice to not only the author but the fiction itself. These are more than mere spook stories to tell around the campfire. Like the best of King's novels, they are aiming higher and deeper than tales of demon-possessed cars or viral aliens.

In his introduction to the collection, King describes how writing these stories was a sort of renaissance for him, born out of a stint as a guest editor for The Best American Short Stories in 2006. That job required him to read hundreds of stories -- "some seemed to touch greatness" while others felt "airless...and self-referring." But binge-reading all that short fiction had a catalytic effect on King: he realized "writing short stories is a fragile craft, one that can be forgotten if it isn't used almost constantly....There are lots of things in life that are like riding a bike, but writing short stories isn't one of them. You can forget how."

And so he started flexing the muscle that once earned him rent money writing for men's magazines like Cavalier and Gent. A full dose of that early pulp horror can be found in his first collection, Night Shift; but it's also represented here in Just After Sunset by "The Cat from Hell," the one selection which is gore-for-gore's-sake scary. The story of a hit man hired to kill a cat starts as something out of Poe -- an unnerving tale of paranoia and revenge -- but ends in a traditional King bloodbath. While it's queasily unforgettable, it's not typical of the collection. Nor should it be, since it was first published in 1977 in Cavalier. By including it here, King shows just how far he's come in the intervening years.

Most of the stories in Just After Sunsetwere written, by contrast, in the recent creative spurt King describes in his introduction. While a couple show signs of King wobbling and in need of training wheels after climbing back on the literary bike, others have the potential to move readers to tears while also scaring the bejabbers out of them.

In "Harvey's Dream," the titular husband relates a disturbing nightmare to his wife and says,

"And here comes the scary part. Do you want to hear the scary part?"

No, she thinks from her place by the sink. I don't want to hear the scary part. But at the same time she does want to hear the scary part, everyone wants to hear the scary part, we're all mad here.

Moving away from plots that feature creatures slithering beneath the bed, King homes in on the things that really scare us: divorce, wayward children, terminal illness, random violence, and being trapped in a Porta-Potty ("A Very Tight Place"). The most gut-wrenching of the stories involve ghosts who cannot bear to part with what we would call the real world. A husband and wife find eternal happiness on the dance floor of a honky-tonk in Wyoming; a widow gets a phone call from her husband, who has just been killed in a plane crash; and ordinary objects from office cubicles have a way of returning from the afterlife.

The latter story, "The Things They Left Behind," is King's haunting and poignant attempt to address the national grief over 9/11. A year after the attacks, a man who was playing hooky from his job in the World Trade Center that day suddenly finds tchotchkes from his dead co-workers' desks turning up in his apartment. To exorcise the ghosts, he must return the possessions to the families of the dead.

Say what you will about King's literary cachet, but he has undeniably worked hard at his craft, and over the years, he's drawn ever closer to earning the title of our American Dickens. Sure, the pop-culture references eventually wear thin, and yes, some of his plots are ridiculously absurd; but on the page, he can dance with the best of them. He knows how to make our skin crawl with a simple word like "charred." He's got the sound of vomiting down pat ("yurp"). And, line for line, he is a master at the compact, apt sentence: "His breath was black with the perfume of decomposition;" or, describing an obsessive-compulsive patient as "a man being pecked to pieces by invisible birds." This last line is from "N.," the one previously unpublished story in Just After Sunset. With a breathless stream of prose, King climbs inside the maelstrom of OCD to a place where "[t]here is a world behind this world, filled with monsters."

Behind the thin veneer we call reality -- the layer with all the hurt, the anticipation, the tedium, and the joy -- lies the dark unknown. This is the literary landscape where King still reigns supreme. --David Abrams

David Abrams's stories and essays have appeared in Esquire, Glimmer Train Stories, The Greensboro Review, and The Missouri Review. He's currently at work on a novel based in part on his experiences while deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416586654
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 117,835
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen King

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Mr. Mercedes, Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Bachman
      Stephen A. King
      Stephen Edwin King
    2. Hometown:
      Bangor, Maine
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portland, Maine
    1. Education:
      B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Not a very nice man.

One afternoon not long after July became August, Deke Hollis told her she had company on the island. He called it the island, never the key.

Deke was a weathered fifty, or maybe seventy. He was tall and rangy and wore a battered old straw hat that looked like an inverted soup bowl. From seven in the morning until seven at night, he ran the drawbridge between Vermillion and the mainland. This was Monday to Friday. On weekends, "the kid" took over (said kid being about thirty). Some days when Em ran up to the drawbridge and saw the kid instead of Deke in the old cane chair outside the gatehouse, reading Maxim or Popular Mechanics rather than The New York Times, she was startled to realize that Saturday had come around again.

This afternoon, though, it was Deke. The channel between Vermillion and the mainland — which Deke called the thrut (throat, she assumed) — was deserted and dark under a dark sky. A heron stood on the drawbridge's Gulf-side rail, either meditating or looking for fish.

"Company?" Em said. "I don't have any company."

"I didn't mean it that way. Pickering's back. At 366? Brought one of his 'nieces.'" The punctuation for nieces was provided by a roll of Deke's eyes, of a blue so faded they were nearly colorless.

"I didn't see anyone," Em said.

"No," he agreed. "Crossed over in that big red M'cedes of his about an hour ago, while you were probably still lacin' up your tennies." He leaned forward over his newspaper; it crackled against his flat belly. She saw he had the crossword about half completed. "Different niece every summer. Always young." He paused. "Sometimes two nieces, one in August and one in September."

"I don't know him," Em said. "And I didn't see any red Mercedes." Nor did she know which house belonged to 366. She noticed the houses themselves, but rarely paid attention to the mailboxes. Except, of course, for 219. That was the one with the little line of carved birds on top of it. (The house behind it was, of course, Birdland.)

"Just as well," Deke said. This time instead of rolling his eyes, he twitched down the corners of his mouth, as if he had something bad tasting in there. "He brings 'em down in the M'cedes, then takes 'em back to St. Petersburg in his boat. Big white yacht. The Playpen. Went through this morning." The corners of his mouth did that thing again. In the far distance, thunder mumbled. "So the nieces get a tour of the house, then a nice little cruise up the coast, and we don't see Pickering again until January, when it gets cold up in Chicagoland."

Em thought she might have seen a moored white pleasure craft on her morning beach run but wasn't sure.

"Day or two from now — maybe a week — he'll send out a couple of fellas, and one will drive the M'cedes back to wherever he keeps it stored away. Near the private airport in Naples, I imagine."

"He must be very rich," Em said. This was the longest conversation she'd ever had with Deke, and it was interesting, but she started jogging in place just the same. Partly because she didn't want to stiffen up, mostly because her body was calling on her to run.

"Rich as Scrooge McDuck, but I got an idea Pickering actually spends his. Probably in ways Uncle Scrooge never imagined. Made it off some kind of computer thing, I heard." The eye roll. "Don't they all?"

"I guess," she said, still jogging in place. The thunder cleared its throat with a little more authority this time.

"I know you're anxious to be off, but I'm talking to you for a reason," Deke said. He folded up his newspaper, put it beside the old cane chair, and stuck his coffee cup on top of it as a paperweight. "I don't ordinarily talk out of school about folks on the island — a lot of 'em's rich and I wouldn't last long if I did — but I like you, Emmy. You keep yourself to yourself, but you ain't a bit snooty. Also, I like your father. Him and me's lifted a beer, time to time."

"Thanks," she said. She was touched. And as a thought occurred to her, she smiled. "Did my dad ask you to keep an eye on me?"

Deke shook his head. "Never did. Never would. Not R. J.'s style. He'd tell you the same as I am, though — Jim Pickering's not a very nice man. I'd steer clear of him. If he invites you in for a drink or even just a cup of coffee with him and his new 'niece,' I'd say no. And if he were to ask you to go cruising with him, I would definitely say no."

"I have no interest in cruising anywhere," she said. What she was interested in was finishing her work on Vermillion Key. She felt it was almost done. "And I better get back before the rain starts."

"Don't think it's coming until five, at least," Deke said. "Although if I'm wrong, I think you'll still be okay."

She smiled again. "Me too. Contrary to popular opinion, women don't melt in the rain. I'll tell my dad you said hello."

"You do that." He bent down to get his paper, then paused, looking at her from beneath that ridiculous hat. "How're you doing, anyway?"

"Better," she said. "Better every day." She turned and began her road run back to the Little Grass Shack. She raised her hand as she went, and as she did, the heron that had been perched on the drawbridge rail flapped past her with a fish in its long bill.

Three sixty-six turned out to be the Pillbox, and for the first time since she'd come to Vermillion, the gate was standing ajar. Or had it been ajar when she ran past it toward the bridge? She couldn't remember — but of course she had taken up wearing a watch, a clunky thing with a big digital readout, so she could time herself. She had probably been looking at that when she went by.

She almost passed without slowing — the thunder was closer now — but she wasn't exactly wearing a thousand-dollar suede skirt from Jill Anderson, only an ensemble from the Athletic Attic: shorts and a T-shirt with the Nike swoosh on it. Besides, what had she said to Deke? Women don't melt in the rain. So she slowed, swerved, and had a peek. It was simple curiosity.

She thought the Mercedes parked in the courtyard was a 450 SL, because her father had one like it, although his was pretty old now and this one looked brand-new. It was candy-apple red, its body brilliant even under the darkening sky. The trunk was open. A sheaf of long blond hair hung from it. There was blood in the hair.

Had Deke said the girl with Pickering was a blond? That was her first question, and she was so shocked, so fucking amazed, that there was no surprise in it. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable question, and the answer was Deke hadn't said. Only that she was young. And a niece. With the eye roll.

Thunder rumbled. Almost directly overhead now. The courtyard was empty except for the car (and the blond in the trunk, there was her). The house looked deserted, too: buttoned up and more like a pillbox than ever. Even the palms swaying around it couldn't soften it. It was too big, too stark, too gray. It was an ugly house.

Em thought she heard a moan. She ran through the gate and across the yard to the open trunk without even thinking about it. She looked in. The girl in the trunk hadn't moaned. Her eyes were open, but she had been stabbed in what looked like dozens of places, and her throat was cut ear to ear.

Em stood looking in, too shocked to move, too shocked to even breathe. Then it occurred to her that this was a fake dead girl, a movie prop. Even as her rational mind was telling her that was bullshit, the part of her that specialized in rationalization was nodding frantically. Even making up a story to backstop the idea. Deke didn't like Pickering, and Pickering's choice of female companionship? Well guess what, Pickering didn't like Deke, either! This was nothing but an elaborate practical joke. Pickering would go back across the bridge with the trunk deliberately ajar, that fake blond hair fluttering, and —

But there were smells rising out of the trunk now. They were the smells of shit and blood. Em reached forward and touched the cheek below one of those staring eyes. It was cold, but it was skin. Oh God, it was human skin.

There was a sound behind her. A footstep. She started to turn, and something came down on her head. There was no pain, but brilliant white seemed to leap across the world. Then the world went dark. Copyright © 2008 by Stephen King

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 302 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(104)

4 Star

(108)

3 Star

(52)

2 Star

(24)

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 303 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Settle in ... to be taken away!

    This is like going back to King's very first collection of short stories, except this time the writing is so much more mature and the thrills are of the more psychological kind. No more does he rely so much on the "jump out and grab you" horror elements. Now, as with "Duma Key," King scrapes, claws and even burrows deep into your mind to find what unsettles you in everyday life. Reading these stories, especially "Rest Stop" and "Stationary Bike," you feel yourself lost in the fear of the places you never want to go because your not sure you will come back whole and sane. This time you realize that if what you were reading were actual experiences you just might SNAP! You might become something you can never find the way to leave behind you. "Willa" also reminds you of what happens when King finds the beauty in placing you in unusual territory. There is an amazing peace to this story much like that found in the best parts of "The Green Mile." Different, still unsettling to be sure ... but the amazing peace of it overwhelms you. Don't get too settled in though. "Gingerbread Girl" and "A Very Tight Place" remind you that King is still that kid around the campfire. He still wants you to scream, jump, squirm ... and, oh yeah, be very disgusted! A prime effort overall. I cannot recommend it enough!

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2008

    My Man King!

    I've had a problem with King's short stories lately, but only because they end too soon. Just After Sunset is an outstanding compilation of some of the author's finest tales and my only complaint is that I wanted more and more! As usual, King does not fail to send shivers down the spine while throwing in hilarious little tidbits and silly phrases. His insight into the human psyche is more finely tuned than ever and true King fans will undoubtedly love his latest publication. He is so much more than just a horror writer.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just After Sunset

    This is my second favorite short story collection by Stephen King. It features some of the most beautifully written stories that are touching, heartfelt, scary and real. "Graduation Afternoon" took my breath away and "N." is just about a close to perfect you can get. "The Things They Left Behind" is a 9/11 tale that will stun you. The only story that beats all these is from my #1 collection, SKELETON CREW: and that is "The Reach." Try these tales and see that King is just getting started.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Stephen King delivers once again. . .

    Just After Sunset hooked me right from the very first story and never let up on it's grip, even after I had finished the book. It was the first collection of short stories that I have read by King, so I cannot compare it to his other collections. But I can compare it to other short story collections, and Just After Sunset surpasses all of them. It would be hard if not impossible to find another author who can match the creativity of Stephen King. He really is a master at what he does, and this collection of short stories is more proof of his greatness. This is a must-have for any Stephen King fan or anyone who wants to get a book that is deserving of their hard earned money.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Stephen King WORK!!!!

    I must say, I have read a lot of Stephen king short story writings. But this one to me it is his best short story book. I really enjoy the story N, to me that touch home for me cause I'm a little OCD not much but enough where sometime its unbearable. And I felt very connected with Mr.N on so many different levels. I also enjoyed 'A very tight place', that was also very good and funny. But what is the saddest of all the story is 'Ayana', that story there was very touching and also had a Stephen King twist on it as well. But 'Cat from Hell' was published in March 1977 in Cavalier.The winning entry, as well as King's complete story, was published in the magazine in June of the same year. King revised the story and it was reprinted in Tales of Unknown Horror (1978).It also was very interested and kind of gross to read at the end.LOL. But over all a very well written book. It is a must read and a must have for all Stephen King fans!!!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Stephen King is by far one of the best authors. He really knows how to describe each scene and grab the readers in and make them feel as if they're right in the room with the characters. There are a few stories that seemed to linger in the back of my mind, even after I'd put the book down and went about my day. That's when you know an author has really grabbed his audience's attention. I would love to see some of these stories made into movies! A great read overall!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    "N"

    The best story I have ever read/heard. Completly amazing!!! I have listened to "N" on audio book AT LEAST a hundred times. I am not even exaggerating. That story is beautifully written and utterly terrifying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2011

    Get the print hardcover version, its cheaper

    I'm finding a lot of remainder sale titles are still full price on here. Be cautious!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A great collection of King's stories.

    After reading the fist few stories in this one I was thinking to myself "King has lost his touch". The first few stories were so predictable. But then it started getting really good. There were only a handful of the stories in this one that I didn't love. It wasn't that they were bad, they were just predictable.

    I think my favorite stories were Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, and N. I really think that they could have been turned into full-length novels. But they were still really good as short stories. N kind of had a IT feel to it. The Things They Left Behind was just weird, but in a good way. Stationary Bike was also weird. I thought it would be kind of like Thinner when I started reading it.

    I usually don't like to read short stories, as I don't get enough time to connect with the characters and it's hard for me to get a real feel for things. With a few exceptions in this collected that was not the case. King's ability to write a short story that doesn't seem abrupt was great. And the characters were all fairly well-rounded.

    This one did take me a while to read. Although at 539 pages it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. The short stories were fairly fast paced and so they lent themselves to be read very fast.

    Overall it was pretty good. The preview of Under The Dome in the back has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on that one.

    A review copy of this title was provided by Book Cove Reviews.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2009

    Yessir; He's Back.

    I have to admit, I thought he had fallen off, lost the touch etc. Mr. King
    However with this collection of short stories he has proven himself to be the
    true king of the short story horror genre.An enjoyable read that you truly
    hate to put down.This is definitely his best work in years!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    "Just After Sunset" A Shining Star

    After some disappointing submissions, mostly those since the "Dark Tower" last hit the stands, the modern day master of horror Stephen King has redeemed himself with this selection of short stories. "Just After Sunset" is the literary equivalent of a CD whose every track is a musical winner; likewise all the short stories in this offering are imaginary masterpieces of the written word. Each yarn stands strong on its own accounting with reoccuring threads and references cropping at times in each, not the least of which is that of obessive compulsive behavior, amongst other subtle though no less disturbing connectins with the other tales provided in these pages. Throughout, this collection is threaded into a divine tapestry of compellingly creative chilling tales. Let us hope this is a promise of King's return to prominence as a teller of tales of terror. (liquidgee@comcast.net)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Vintage Steve

    Steve returns to his short story roots and turns out a work on par with Skeleton Crew and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This book is PERFECT for travelling, as the majority of the stories are about 15 pages long and engrossing enough to make you move right on the the next story when the previous story ends. Steve has been on a roll as of late with Duma Key and now Just After Sunset. I sincerely hope he keeps it up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great collection of stories, but....

    I'm of two minds about Stephen King's latest book. He doesn't have anything left to prove since the recent releases of "Lisey's Story" and "Duma Key", his best books in years, which re-established his place as America's best modern horror writer. But he's always struck me as someone who needs to keep doing what he loves - in this case, write horror stories - or he'll just wither away. Which in King's case wouldn't be a bad way to go, really. <BR/><BR/>But after finishing "Just After Sunset", I have to wonder if that very dark place from which King pulls his stories has (temporarily, one hopes) shut down. His style and prose are top-notch, which is why I'm giving this book four stars. He can still write rings around most of today's other so-called horrormeisters. But with the exception of "N", none of the stories in this collection fit the Stephen King definition of horror as I've come to understand it. They all deal with the dark side of the world, but none of them except for "N" would give me nightmares after finishing them. <BR/><BR/>Some of these stories, such as "Willa" and "The Cat From Hell", read as though King wrote them at the beginning of his career, before he'd found his niche. And indeed, the postscript at the end of this book indicates that for these two stories that is exactly the case. <BR/><BR/>I'm still recommending this addition to the canon, warts and all. It's light-years better than the trash King put out years ago - trash such as "Firestarter" and "Cujo". But I'm hoping that King's next book, whatever it is, will follow the path he set with "Lisey" and "Key".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2014

    As always, fabulously written.

    King is my horror hero! No one can compare.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2014

    Gingerbread Girl (Spoiler Alert)

    I hate to admit this, but from the point of when Emily gets free and runs from the kichen, until the killer finds her in the room, I actually skipped past the entire description of the house.

    Stephen King kiddingly refers to his self as having "Diaherra of the keys", and he sure shouldn't be kidding. That entire description had nothing to do with the main plot of the story. In my not so humble opinion, it is what I call a "Filler". It is there for one purpose, to fill pages, until we get back to the part of the story we *really* want to read. It interupted the flow of the story, the best part of the story, I might add.

    Is the story worth reading, well of course it is. It IS Stephen King after all! Is the long, wordy description of the house worth reading? Of course not. And believe me, I went back and read the pages that I hastedly skimmed over and found nothing of value to them.

    ...On to Harvey's Dream, where I assure you, if I run into any more "fillers", I shall skip past those with a smile, as it is just in Mr. King's nature to give us much more than what we need, to get to what we most want :)

    K.R.C.
    June 2014
    Phoenix, Az.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    I am not sure if I have ever read a book of short stories, and i

    I am not sure if I have ever read a book of short stories, and if I have then maybe a few. But, after reading Just After Sunset, it set high standards for how every book with a compilation of stories should be organized and written. Just like the multiple reviews from this “Barnes and Noble” website, the majority of the audience commented on the quality and thrill of the writing. The book is a compilation of short stories, each beautifully written. Based off each review, the usual presentation included their feelings towards the book and a comparison to other texts or pieces of literature. 
    Maybe this review would follow the same cliché format, but one thing is for sure: this book is worth buying. The book is only around ten dollars, and it has more than a dozen well-written stories. Each story is well worth anyone’s money. It ranges from a variety of different backgrounds and unexpected plots, so it can captivate almost every group of readers. If any reader is interested in a fun, good read, then pick up Just After Sunset by Stephen King. If the reader is interested in learning instructional concepts, then maybe this book is not the right fit. 
    All the short stories within the book contained many different elements of writing. Viewing the stories under critical lenses, they could be viewed under the Psychoanalytical lens, Marxist lens, Feminist lens, and etc. One of the stories was interpreted in a literary aspect by viewing the power struggles and the role of life and responsibilities. The writing incorporates creative ideas and grabs the reader’s attention, which makes it the highlight of every story in the book. Because each story can either be a fantasy or a situation that can be related to real life, it gives the ability to make connections with each story. For example, one of the stories “N.” was illustrated in a sci-fi and fantasy point of view, so many connections between modern movies could be made.
    Although the book does not contain a complex form of writing, it provides stronger meaning within the texts and the plot. Its Lexile level is undeterminable, but Stephen King’s writing usually ranges in a 700 Lexile level. This book is recommended to anyone that wants an entertaining and unexpected read. The texts are brilliant with unimaginable thoughts. People with an especially broad imagination would be captivated with this book. Overall Just After Sunset was a success in every way possible. It effectively added writing elements, curiosity, interests, and ingenuity.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Stephen King's "Just After Sunset" was definitely wort

    Stephen King's &quot;Just After Sunset&quot; was definitely worth reading. The short stories included were well written and kept you wanting to read more. Although some of the short stories were better than others, (&quot;Gingerbread Girl,&quot; &quot;N.,&quot; &quot;Things They Left Behind,&quot; and &quot;The Cat From Hell,&quot;) overall they were all good stories that kept you involved. As Lady Guinevere stated, &quot;There are a few stories that seemed to linger in the back of my mind, even after reading the book.&quot; It is definitely a compilation of very creepy stories, and will leave you thinking about the meaning and freaky occurrences for long after you finish the book. He picks situations most of us have been in, in our lives and turns them into scary occurrences that get in your head. 
    The one bit of criticism I would offer King was to know when to cut the story off, though. Some stories went on for way longer than they should have, and didn't contribute to the suspense, but rather left me feeling kind of bored. The text itself is simple to comprehend, but there is a lot of underlying meaning and symbolism. To fully appreciate this book, I would recommend it to people from high school and above. 
    I would also recommend to save &quot;N.&quot; for last. It was easily one of the best stories in the book, and after reading it, the other stories after didn't seem to quite stack up. For $9.99 this book is worth every penny and more. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    Anon

    Just finished reading this collection of short stories and am amazed at the genius of this author. THE CAT FROM HELL did for cats what CUJO did for dogs. A VERY TIGHT PLACE was just so gross but what a great tale. AYANA and THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND are very touching. GRADUATION DAY will leave you stunned. These were my favorites, but all stories are good. You won't go wrong by getting this book. Also nice are the author's notes on each story at back of book.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Simply one of the BEST short story books every written!

    Every page, every story, every line... all worth every second of your time. Stephen King surely out did himself in this one. Every short story was captivating from beginning to end and left you wanting more! He truly lives up to his name, the King of horror and suspense! I highly recommend this one, its a MUST READ!

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