King of the Dark Episode 16: Stephen King’s Short Sharp Shocks

On this episode of King of the Dark — our second to last! —  Louis Peitzman, Liz Braswell and Bill Tipper turn from the grand scale of Stephen King’s dark epics to the supremely concentrated pleasures of his short fiction. King has published over 200 works of short fiction, most of which have been collected in volumes including Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, Everything’s Eventual and others. In many of these the master is at his elemental best, spinning tales that take just a few pages to cast a spell that lasts long after the short, sharp shock of the ending has been delivered. So we decided it was time to devote an episode to the glorious — and some times a little gory — work in miniature that is the classic King short story.

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King’s first collection of short stories showcases the darkest depths of his brilliant imagination. Here we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a possessed, evil lawnmower (“The Lawnmower Man”); unsettling children from the heartland (“Children of the Corn”); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more shadows and visions that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

The #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 1986 Locus Award for Best Collection, Skeleton Crew is “Stephen King at his best” (The Denver Post)—a terrifying, mesmerizing collection of stories from the outer limits of one of the greatest imaginations of our time.

“Wildly imaginative, delightfully diabolical…King once again proves to be the consummate storyteller” (The Associated Press).

A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against destruction. A trip to the attic becomes a journey to hell. A woman driving a Jaguar finds a scary shortcut to paradise. An idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil. And a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged. This “wonderfully gruesome” collection (The New York Times Book Review) includes:

-“The Mist”
-“Here There Be Tygers”
-“The Monkey”
-“Cain Rose Up”
-“Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”
-“The Jaunt”
-“The Wedding Gig”
-“Paranoid: A Chant”
-“The Raft”- “Word Processor of the Gods”
-“The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”
-“Beachworld”
-“The Reaper’s Image”
-“Nona”
-“For Owen”
-“Survivor Type”
-“Uncle Otto’s Truck”
-“Morning Deliveries (Milkman No. 1)”
-“Big Wheels: a Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman No. 2)”
-“Gramma”
-“The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”
-“The Reach”

King is best known for his iconic, immersive long novels, but he is also a master of the short story, and this is a magnificent collection.
Explore all of Stephen King’s books at Barnes & Noble.

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