Just After Sunset (Collector's Set)
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Just After Sunset (Collector's Set)

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by Stephen King
     
 

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In Just After Sunset Stephen King delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. One of the longer stories in this book, "N.," recently broke ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment and brought to vibrant life through a series of twenty-five video episodes. Introduced by

Overview

In Just After Sunset Stephen King delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. One of the longer stories in this book, "N.," recently broke ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment and brought to vibrant life through a series of twenty-five video episodes. Introduced by the author, those episodes are presented on the DVD included in this Collector's Set. A trailer for the video episodes and a special "Behind the Scenes" segment complete the DVD package available only in this special edition of the book.

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. "N." 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!

Just After Sunset -- call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnaturalcast, 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.

Editorial Reviews

We've always been strong supporters of the Best American Short Stories series, but our respect for this wonderful annual rose even higher when we learned that Stephen King credited his recent renewed interest in short stories to his tenure as a guest editor of the 2007 number. Spending a year reading and rereading hundreds of these stories, he says, inspired him to return to the genre with renewed purpose. This hefty, 384-page volume represents that harvest. Just After Sunset is the essence of vintage King: intense situations of vulnerability rendered at close range. Ideal for reading "just after sunset."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439115305
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
11/11/2008
Edition description:
Collector's Set Edition - Book w/ DVD
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt


Just After Sunset

Collector's Set Stories



By Stephen King
Scribner
Copyright © 2008

Stephen King
All right reserved.



ISBN: 978-1-4391-1530-5



Chapter One 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.

(Continues...)




Excerpted from Just After Sunset by Stephen King Copyright © 2008 by Stephen King. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, was also a bestseller. 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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Bangor, Maine
Date of Birth:
September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:
Portland, Maine
Education:
B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Website:
http://www.stephenking.com

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Just after Sunset 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 293 reviews.
Mitch563 More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
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.
Donald More than 1 year ago
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.
MaGicAllyGeNuisJ More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
--LadyGuinevere-- More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Jennmarie68 More than 1 year ago
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.
TommyBee More than 1 year ago
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!
liquidgee More than 1 year ago
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)
Steets More than 1 year ago
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!
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

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".
loonyluna1 7 months ago
I'm honestly not 100% sure how I feel about this book. For those of you who don't know, this is a book of short stories. There was one story I really liked, called "N." Some of the other stories were just okay. And then some of them were almost.... pointless? Nothing happened in them, it was basically all fluff. Unless the actual intention was to be pointless? I don't know. So I guess that maybe to accurately sum up how I feel I'll just say this: Meh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved it - ready for another!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
King is my horror hero! No one can compare.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Just After Sunset” was a very engaging book. Most of these reviews focus on the quality of Stephen King’s writing rather than the plots. Each short story was presented in a unique form and King displayed, or showed off, his many talents of writing. For example, my favorite story, “Willa”, was written in a positive manner and had a relatively happy ending. “N”, on the other hand, was extremely disturbing and mind-boggling. Some reviews praise King, some titles of the review are: “My Man King”, “Great Stephen King WORK!!!!” and “Vintage Steve.” One review in particular says, “King does not fail to send shivers down my spine while throwing in hilarious tidbits and silly phrases.” The main reason “Just After Sunset” was one of my favorite books due to its variation of stories, each kept refreshing my interest.  “Just After Sunset” is worth the price if you are willing to immerse yourself into the many short stories. This book is not expensive at all and should be a must have for any King fans, or fans of mystery and paranormal stories. The different styles of writing by King are very well done. Also, the references to other authors are in very good taste: “The Cat from Hell” is a nod to Edgar Allan Poe while “N.” is a direct tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Anybody who isn’t scared easily should read this book. I would recommend this anybody 15 and older, all genders and races. However, people who are offended easily may find this book upsetting due to some topics King presents in some of his stories. Overall, “Just After Sunset” was a great collection of stories; I found it to be one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while.           
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stephen King's "Just After Sunset" 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, ("Gingerbread Girl," "N.," "Things They Left Behind," and "The Cat From Hell,") overall they were all good stories that kept you involved. As Lady Guinevere stated, "There are a few stories that seemed to linger in the back of my mind, even after reading the book." 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 "N." 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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago