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Riding the Bullet

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Overview

A Stephen King ghost story in the grand tradition, Riding the Bullet is the ultimate warning about the dangers of hitchhiking.

A college student's mother is dying in a Maine hospital. When he hitches a ride to see her, the driver is not who he appears to be. Soon the journey veers off into a dark landscape that could only be drawn by Stephen King.

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Riding the Bullet

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Overview

A Stephen King ghost story in the grand tradition, Riding the Bullet is the ultimate warning about the dangers of hitchhiking.

A college student's mother is dying in a Maine hospital. When he hitches a ride to see her, the driver is not who he appears to be. Soon the journey veers off into a dark landscape that could only be drawn by Stephen King.

About the Audiobook:
When first published as an eBook, Riding the Bullet received tremendous response, but it was never available as an audiobook until now (and is still not available as a stand-alone in print form). A must-listen for any King fan!

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Editorial Reviews

Raymond Sokolov
This is a classic King contrivance, matter-of-fact about everything from the phantasmagorical to masturbation, so insidiously normal and easy-to-read that it draws you into its little down-home chamber of horrors before you know it.

This makes it an ideal vehicle for enticing neophytes into reading their first e-book.
Wall Street Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
E-publishing takes a giant step with the release of this grandly entertaining ghost story. Not only is it the first original e-publication by a megaselling author, but it may be the most accomplished work ever to appear only in cyberspace--and it's available through an unprecedented number of vendors and platforms. The story is vintage King. Narrator Alan Parker, 21, learns that his beloved mother has had a stroke and hitchhikes through rural Maine to see her. On the way he's picked up first by a horrid old man, then by someone far more awful: a dead young man who offers him a terrible choice. The simple, potent prose skims along spurred by high suspense. The atmospherics roil like a classic nightmare: a moonlit graveyard, howling wind, rising mist; but King spins them with a wicked modern touch--the dead man drives a Mustang, and as the corpse pulls on a cigarette, Alan sees "little trickles of smoke escape from the stitched incision on his neck." When Alan makes his choice, the story deepens as King taps horror fiction's particular ability to illuminate the terror of the human condition. Anyone concerned about King's writing abilities after his near-fatal accident can relax. This genuinely chilling, haunting tale finds his talent--and the state of e-publishing--in the pink. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Riding the Bullet was originally published in March 2000 exclusively as an e-book and has now found its way to print and audio. It's a classic King ghost story/urban legend about a college student who hitchhikes across Maine to visit his hospitalized mother and gets more than he bargains for during his rides. Film and theater actor Josh Hamilton provides an excellent reading, with a promising command of pace and characterization. However, for many libraries, the economics of buying an audio version of a single, extremely short story may be questionable. Recommended with that reservation only.-Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743525862
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 5/14/2002
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 2 cassettes, 2 hrs.
  • Pages: 2
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.82 (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.

Josh Hamilton's films include Diggers, Kicking and Screaming, The House of Yes, Alive, Online, and Outsourced. New York Stage work includes The Coast of Utopia, HurlyBurly, Proof, This is Our Youth, The Waverly Gallery, The Cider House Rules, As Bees in Honey Drown, and Suburbia.

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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

I've never told anyone this story, and never thought I would -- not because I was afraid of being disbelieved, exactly, but because I was ashamed...and because it was mine. I've always felt that telling it would cheapen both me and the story itself, make it smaller and more mundane, no more than a camp counselor's ghost story told before lights-out. I think I was also afraid that if I told it, heard it with my own ears, I might start to disbelieve it myself. But since my mother died I haven't been able to sleep very well. I doze off and then snap back again, wide awake and shivering. Leaving the bedside lamp on helps, but not as much as you might think. There are so many more shadows at night, have you ever noticed that? Even with a light on there are so many shadows. The long ones could be the shadows of anything, you thi

Anything at all.

I was a junior at the University of Maine when Mrs. McCurdy called about ma. My father died when I was too young to remember him and I was an only child, so it was just Alan and Jean Parker against the world. Mrs. McCurdy, who lived just up the road, called at the apartment I shared with three other guys. She had gotten the number off the magnetic minder-board ma kept on her fridge.

"'Twas a stroke," she said in that long and drawling Yankee accent of hers. "Happened at the restaurant. But don't you go flyin off all half-cocked. Doctor says it wa'ant too bad. She's awake and she's talkin."

"Yeah, but is she making sense?" I asked. I was trying to sound calm, even amused, but my heart was beating fast and the living room suddenly felt too warm. I had the apartment all to myself; it was Wednesday, and both my roomies had classes all day.

"Oh, ayuh. First thing she said was for me to call you but not to scare you. That's pretty sensible, wouldn't you say?"

"Yeah." But of course I was scared. When someone calls and tells you your mother's been taken from work to the hospital in an ambulance, how else are you supposed to feel?

"She said for you to stay right there and mind your schoolin until the weekend. She said you could come then, if you didn't have too much studyin t'do."

Sure, I thought. Fat chance. I'd just stay here in this ratty, beer-smelling apartment while my mother lay in a hospital bed a hundred miles south, maybe dying.

"She's still a young woman, your ma," Mrs. McCurdy said. "It's just that she's let herself get awful heavy these last few years, and she's got the hypertension. Plus the cigarettes. She's goin to have to give up the smokes."

I doubted if she would, though, stroke or no stroke, and about that I was right -- my mother loved her smokes. I thanked Mrs. McCurdy for calling.

"First thing I did when I got home," she said. "So when are you coming, Alan? Sad'dy?" There was a sly note in her voice that suggested she knew better.

I looked out the window at a perfect afternoon in October: bright blue New England sky over trees that were shaking down their yellow leaves onto Mill Street. Then I glanced at my watch. Twenty past three. I'd just been on my way out to my four o'clock philosophy seminar when the phone rang.

"You kidding?" I asked. "I'll be there tonight."

Her laughter was dry and a little cracked around the edges -- Mrs. McCurdy was a great one to talk about giving up the cigarettes, her and her Winstons. "Good boy! You'll go straight to the hospital, won't you, then drive out to the house?"

"I guess so, yeah," I said. I saw no sense in telling Mrs. McCurdy that there was something wrong with the transmission of my old car, and it wasn't going anywhere but the driveway for the foreseeable future. I'd hitchhike down to Lewiston, then out to our little house in Harlow if it wasn't too late. If it was, I'd snooze in one of the hospital lounges. It wouldn't be the first time I'd ridden my thumb home from school. Or slept sitting up with my head leaning against a Coke machine, for that matter.

"I'll make sure the key's under the red wheelbarrow," she said. "You know where I mean, don't you?"

"Sure." My mother kept an old red wheelbarrow by the door to the back shed; in the summer it foamed with flowers. Thinking of it for some reason brought Mrs. McCurdy's news home to me as a true fact: my mother was in the hospital, the little house in Harlow where I'd grown up was going to be dark tonight -- there was no one there to turn on the lights after the sun went down. Mrs. McCurdy could say she was young, but when you're just twenty-one yourself, forty-eight seems ancient.

"Be careful, Alan. Don't speed."

My speed, of course, would be up to whoever I hooked a ride with, and I personally hoped that whoever it was would go like hell. As far as I was concerned, I couldn't get to Central Maine Medical Center fast enough. Still, there was no sense worrying Mrs. McCurdy.

"I won't. Thanks."

"Welcome," she said. "Your ma's going to be just fine. And won't she be some happy to see you."

I hung up, then scribbled a note saying what had happened and where I was going. I asked Hector Passmore, the more responsible of my roommates, to call my adviser and ask him to tell my instructors what was up so I wouldn't get whacked for cutting -- two or three of my teachers were real bears about that. Then I stuffed a change of clothes into my backpack, added my dog-eared copy of Introduction to Philosophy, and headed out. I dropped the course the following week, although I had been doing quite well in it. The way I looked at the world changed that night, changed quite a lot, and nothing in my philosophy textbook seemed to fit the changes. I came to understand that there are things underneath, you see -- underneath -- and no book can explain what they are. I think that sometimes it's best to just forget those things are there. If you can, that is.

Copyright © 2000 by Stephen King

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Interviews & Essays

PW Talks with Ralph Vincinanza

Ralph Vicinanza is the literary agent who arranged for the e-publication of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet.

PW: Why is Stephen King publishing an e-book?
RV: We had planned, in 1999, on my doing a deal for the electronic publication of a bridge story between The Talisman and that novel's sequel, which Peter Straub and Stephen King are writing now. I think we'll still go forward with that. But I would like to see that done closer to when the book will be published, which probably won't happen until mid-2001. So I said to Steve, "It would be nice to get an idea of what this market is like now." He said, "Let me think about it," and then he came back the next day and said, "I think I have a story that's perfect for this." I thought it was a really good story in terms of subject matter, but also in terms of length. I didn't want something that would overwhelm the reader, and its length is one reason why we were able to put such a nice price on it. We don't want the price to be any kind of a barrier-and there were no production costs.

PW: It's no surprise that it's Stephen King who's the first really high-profile author to publish electronically. But it is a bit surprising to see S&S involved. Why didn't he go to a bona fide e-publisher, or publish the story on his own?
RV: That was my call. I have been taking meetings with a number of e-book publishers and people who have Web sites. Stephen King has credibility. Stephen King has a huge readership and a cachet all his own. He's a brand name. Many of these companies are new companies-even the ones that have considerable financing are new companies. If Stephen King chose one over the other, that would give that one an imprimatur that may not be deserved. We don't know how this technology is going to pan out. There are lots of people who would pay enormous amounts of money to attract King to do business with them. I have been in meetings where CEOs have said to me, "We will give him 40% or 50% of our stock just to have a regular business with him." But that's not what we were interested in. We were interested in being published electronically in all of the various formats available on all of the various platforms. And S&S has been very aggressive in pursuing relationships with these people. It's important that people don't allow their paranoia to get the best of them. Electronic books and downloading from the Internet is a new and exciting way to present writers. I don't think it's going to destroy the publishing industry. It's very much like the development of the mass-market paperback. Hardcover publishers went crazy back then, thinking, "Oh my God, we're going to be run out of business." You were going to have the same books out there for very cheap prices. But that's not what happened.

PW: But there is a major difference. Now any author can go and post material online, for almost cost.
RV: The problem with any author publishing on the Web is, how do you get readers to go to that Web site? I think that publishers will remain very important as portals, saying, "We offer books by...." Authors like Stephen King and John Grisham and Tom Clancy are in a unique position in the sense that they are portals themselves. It won't surprise anyone to hear that these men, through their writing, have earned enough money to buy publishers if they really wanted to do it themselves. I don't think Stephen King wants to be a publisher. I think that, if he'd wanted to, he would have been able to buy Putnam several years ago, and not have Pearson buy Putnam.

PW: Riding the Bullet is encrypted so that it not only can't be copied, it can't be printed out. Why?
RV: On the Web, you can download material, copy it and send it to hundreds of people. The purpose of the encryption is that, when the material is downloaded, if I try to send it on to someone else, or have somebody download it into their own e-reader or Palm, or to print it out, the file will know that it's been downloaded already, and will corrupt.

PW: I wonder how long it will take before the story appears illicitly on the Web. Because you know someone can have it on their Rocket and type it from there on to their laptop.
RV: You can do that with a short story now. And people have. The law eventually will have to monitor activity like that. But right now, for somebody to sit down, and to spend an hour or two typing it, rather than spending $2.50--I wouldn't get that. We want everybody involved with electronic books to enjoy this. I think it's going to be a tremendous boost in the arm for this industry.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 276 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(72)

4 Star

(101)

3 Star

(58)

2 Star

(30)

1 Star

(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 277 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Quick Creep!

    This is a great short story (44 pages roughly), but don't let the shortness scare you away, it's a great story that has a perfect ratio of creepy to keep you reading through it until the end.

    I wish it were actually a longer story, but the plot was great and it read perfectly, so making it longer would probably ruin the story.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2002

    A Chilling Tale

    A good bit of spokey material. We can always count on King for that. I recommend this book King fan or not. It's entertaining and well written. Makes you feel like you experienced something weird with the main character.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2002

    Nice ebook to begin with

    Ride the Bullet is the first ebook that I've bought. And it's a great one to start with. Although this story is told in very little pages, the plot is quite interesting and tells a big story. I recommend this one to every ebook reader out there.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2002

    Amazing

    I was skeptical about buying an e-book, thought that they would be boring and hard to read. Boy was I surprised! King is usualy enthralling self. The story is quick and full of surprises. King never forgets to add the human touch to his stories, and this one is no different. Definately read this story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2000

    Disappointment From This Fan

    I have read several of Stephen's book and am usually impressed with not only the interesting subject matter but the way the writing takes me away into another world. I was very disappointed in this book. I read it in my Franklin Rocket eBook and felt it was a very derivative work and we deserved more from such a build-up. Hope to see more eBooks though.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2001

    Cutting Edge Fright!

    Fast paced and frightening little story. The editing is excellent; the scenes perfect. Oh yes read it by all means!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2000

    I would actually give it three and a half

    I looked forward to reading Riding The Bullet and found the beginning very good, the middle fascinating, and the end a bit of a let-down. Usually, King's horror stories build up to quite a climax, leaving the reader spellbound. Unfortunately, not it this case. King proves that he can still write horror, and that he is a master at dream description. His main character is well written, and in a short span, the reader knows quite a bit about him. It's kind of frustrating...the first two thirds of Riding The Bullet crackle with suspense and brilliant writing, making the so-so ending that much more nerve-racking.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2004

    wow `

    relly great his best

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2000

    good read and more.....!

    This is a good story with a special ending. It's a thoughtful tale, a quick 'page turner' and told with a sensitivity I found refreshing. I was never bored for a sec....and isn't that what we all REALLY like?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2000

    Very Good

    A very good read! I am not the biggest Stephen King fan,however, this story might make me one. I finished it in about 3 hours. No wasted words or storyline. A very tight and well written story. I recommend this one. Like someone mentioned in another review, this is a great first read for people who are just gettin into ebooks.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    Short but good

    This book was a quick read but still good. I think that the shortness of the story took away from the emotional impact, however, I think that if Stephin King would have tried to draw it out to a longer length the story wouldn't have been as good as it was.

    It was definitely worth purchasing and more than worth the time to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2000

    King heading back to form?

    I wonder how much his accident has affected him? This isn't brilliant horror but it's full of the classic King style. Ending's a little weak, otherwise more stars. Horror fits well on the E-Book, in my view. I've been buying more and more this way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    Stephen King is Stephen King

    There is always simething good and intriguing about a Stephen King work. He's started something great here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2000

    Totally different scenario

    This was great, especially in light of it's circumstances of development. Some think it had a letdown for an ending... But isn't that how most dreams end, just kind of fading with the light of dawn? After all, if they didn't, would we survive them? I give it a '5', 'cause I enjoyed it on screen in about how long it took to download it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2014

    this was not by FAR the first ebook ever published, by several y

    this was not by FAR the first ebook ever published, by several years. Mr. King has written better novels as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Wow!!!

    loved it!!! my husband and i ride so i can relate !!

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    Highly Recommend!

    King teaches us a lesson in this tale! Great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Interesting

    I just read one of his other books and he said that most people don't even read this book and just ask him how it sold.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2012

    :) ^_^

    AWESOME!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2012

    The escape:chapter 3 by Silverbullet

    There, standing next to me, was Blackill. Blackill is my bro, and I'll tell you, he is BAD. I mean, really bad. He's a bounty hunter, but he usually works for the cons. "Well hello, little sister. I am excited for you to join us, and I hope you feel the same. Don't you?" There was no need for him to say anything else, because the evil, 'you're about to be dead' look in Blackill's eyes said it all. I couldn't bear it any longer. I ripped free of the ropes that had binded me, plucked the worm from my chest, then lunged. That extra aggresive anger Blackill had towards me was making me stronger, well, you know what I mean. I lunged towards Blackill and stabbed my sword clean into his chest. He then spoke his last words. "I never...ment...for this...I need love..." and he was dead. I bit back tears, knowing I killed Blackill. I just wanted to run, far away where I had no worries. The cons guarding me had stepped back when I had killed Blackill. I dashed past them and ran to the beach, where my only worry is if the tide is gonna reach me. I stared out to sea, wondering if I should of done what I did.
    (Plz rate and reveiw!)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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