The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

by Stephen King

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Includes the story “Premium Harmony”—set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine

The masterful #1 New York Times bestselling story collection from O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King that includes twenty-one iconic stories with accompanying autobiographical comments on when, why and how he came to write (or rewrite) each one.

For more than thirty-five years, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he introduces each story with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

As Entertainment Weekly said about this collection: “Bazaar of Bad Dreams is bursting with classic King terror, but what we love most are the thoughtful introductions he gives to each tale that explain what was going on in his life as he wrote it."

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. In “Afterlife,” a man who died of colon cancer keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Others address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

“I made these stories especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

Stories include:
-Mile 81
-Premium Harmony
-Batman and Robin Have an Altercation
-The Dune
-Bad Little Kid
-A Death
-The Bone Church
-Herman Wouk Is Still Alive
-Under the Weather
-Blockade Billy
-Mister Yummy
-The Little Green God of Agony
-Cookie Jar
-That Bus Is Another World
-Drunken Fireworks
-Summer Thunder

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501111686
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 11/03/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 34,240
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Institute, Elevation, The OutsiderSleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King), and the Bill Hodges trilogy: End of WatchFinders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and an AT&T Audience Network original television series). 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. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

Read an Excerpt

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

  • I’ve made some things for you, Constant Reader; you see them laid out before you in the moonlight. But before you look at the little handcrafted treasures I have for sale, let’s talk about them for a bit, shall we? It won’t take long. Here, sit down beside me. And do come a little closer. I don’t bite.

    Except . . . we’ve known each other for a very long time, and I suspect you know that’s not entirely true.

    Is it?

    You’d be surprised—at least, I think you would be—at how many people ask me why I still write short stories. The reason is pretty simple: writing them makes me happy, because I was built to entertain. I can’t play the guitar very well, and I can’t tap-dance at all, but I can do this. So I do.

    I’m a novelist by nature, I will grant you that, and I have a particular liking for the long ones that create an immersive experience for writer and reader, where the fiction has a chance to become a world that’s almost real. When a long book succeeds, the writer and reader are not just having an affair; they are married. When I get a letter from a reader who says he or she was sorry when The Stand or 11/22/63 came to an end, I feel that book has been a success.

    But there’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience. It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like a waltz with a stranger you will never see again, or a kiss in the dark, or a beautiful curio for sale laid out on a cheap blanket at a street bazaar. And, yes, when my stories are collected, I always feel like a street vendor, one who sells only at midnight. I spread my assortment out, inviting the reader—that’s you—to come and take your pick. But I always add the proper caveat: be careful, my dear, because some of these items are dangerous. They are the ones with bad dreams hidden inside, the ones you can’t stop thinking about when sleep is slow to come and you wonder why the closet door is open, when you know perfectly well that you shut it.

    If I said I always enjoyed the strict discipline shorter works of fiction impose, I’d be lying. Short stories require a kind of acrobatic skill that takes a lot of tiresome practice. Easy reading is the product of hard writing, some teachers say, and it’s true. Miscues that can be overlooked in a novel become glaringly obvious in a short story. Strict discipline is necessary. The writer has to rein in his impulse to follow certain entrancing side paths and stick to the main route.

    I never feel the limitations of my talent so keenly as I do when writing short fiction. I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, a soul-deep fear that I will be unable to bridge the gap between a great idea and the realization of that idea’s potential. What that comes down to, in plain English, is that the finished product never seems quite as good as the splendid idea that rose from the subconscious one day, along with the excited thought, Ah man! I gotta write this right away!

    Sometimes the result is pretty good, though. And every once in awhile, the result is even better than the original concept. I love it when that happens. The real challenge is getting into the damned thing, and I believe that’s why so many would-be writers with great ideas never actually pick up the pen or start tapping away at the keys. All too often, it’s like trying to start a car on a cold day. At first the motor doesn’t even crank, it only groans. But if you keep at it (and if the battery doesn’t die), the engine starts . . . runs rough . . . and then smooths out.

    There are stories here that came in a flash of inspiration (“Summer Thunder” was one of those), and had to be written at once, even if it meant interrupting work on a novel. There are others, like “Mile 81,” that have waited their turn patiently for decades. Yet the strict focus needed to create a good short story is always the same. Writing novels is a little like playing baseball, where the game goes on for as long as it needs to, even if that means twenty innings. Writing short stories is more like playing basketball or football: you’re competing against the clock as well as the other team.

    When it comes to writing fiction, long or short, the learning curve never ends. I may be a Professional Writer to the IRS when I file my tax return, but in creative terms, I’m still an amateur, still learning my craft. We all are. Every day spent writing is a learning experience, and a battle to do something new. Phoning it in is not allowed. One cannot increase one’s talent—that comes with the package—but it is possible to keep talent from shrinking. At least, I like to think so.

    And hey! I still love it.

    So here are the goods, my dear Constant Reader. Tonight I’m selling a bit of everything—a monster that looks like a car (shades of Christine), a man who can kill you by writing your obituary, an e-reader that accesses parallel worlds, and that all-time favorite, the end of the human race. I like to sell this stuff when the rest of the vendors have long since gone home, when the streets are deserted and a cold rind of moon floats over the canyons of the city. That’s when I like to spread my blanket and lay out my goods.

    That’s enough talk. Perhaps you’d like to buy something, now, yes? Everything you see is handcrafted, and while I love each and every item, I’m happy to sell them, because I made them especially for you. Feel free to examine them, but please be careful.

    The best of them have teeth.

    August 6, 2014

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I got the book this tuesday.iam almost done.i like the book very well.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I very much enjoyed this book. This is the writing style of Stephen King I remember growing up....wonderful read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    King did it once again! Fantastic!
    ShairaFrias More than 1 year ago
    The stories are entertaining...i love that they are short and sweet. King makes me laugh, i love his sense of humor in the stories.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Not all the stories are scary. The last one reminds you how fragile a world we live in and how peace should never be taken for granted.
    FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
    Like the dust jacket says: “Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King's finest gifts to his Constant Reader--"I made them especially for you," says King. "Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth."” Stephen King is and will always be a master storyteller, and he is at his best, drawing on our deepest emotions of love, grief, fear and hope. No matter what his format is, long novel, poetry (there was a surprise, who knew—not me!!) or short stories like these, this Constant Reader was taken along for a Harley ride again, and oh!! What fun!!
    navidad_thelamour More than 1 year ago
    I have to say, The Bazaar from Uncle Steve was a bit of a letdown. Stephen King is, obviously, one of the most-hyped authors of today, which is why the fall from so high can be so hard for his readers. This collection of previously published works, in itself, had a range like open arms – from eye-roll-warranting clunkers that never took off and seemed rather (dare I say it?) juvenile for such a master wordsmith to others that truly took my breath away and really explored the mental and emotional crevices of humanity in a way that was breathtakingly clear and surprising – similar to reaching the summit of a huge roller coaster and seeing the landscape around you for those vivid two seconds before being dragged back down again. Billy Blockade, Bad Little Kid and Under the Weather, I’m looking at you now. Overall, I will remember this collection as a hodgepodge that had some really great highlights – and those highlights are what I will take from it. The short introductions to each story were a real treat. Those anecdotes and revelations were the extra seasoning that this collection needed to thread it all together. However, it would’ve been cool if the original place of publication had been added to those intro snippets; after all, we all knew that most of them were previously published anyway. Mile 81 – This story was surprisingly and glaringly amateur. I appreciate that he led us into that with the knowledge that it was one of his earliest works, but it left an awful taste in my mouth and a hesitation to continue on with the collection. Not the best choice for starting out; better to bury that one somewhere in the middle. No stars. Premium Harmony – Deliciously dry and sardonic. The dialogue hit the nail on the head in that matter-of-fact sort of way that makes you laugh out loud, and the title – fittingly ironic indeed – tied the humor and storyline all together. Great story! **** 4 stars Batman and Robin Have an Altercation – The father-son storyline warmed the heart, but there wasn’t much else here. * 1 star The Dune – This story had a setting and cadence that really made the story, but this one would’ve been more compelling if it had showcased action scenes (which King definitely seems to have shied away from in this collection on a whole). At minimum, it would have carried more resonance if the narrator hadn’t described the deaths in such a half-removed-from-the-situation fashion. Nonetheless, the voice and pace were very steady and controlled, allowing me to trust both the author’s hand and the narrator’s voice. **** 4 stars Bad Little Kid – Awesome story! Sinister, slow and, at times, somber, but never too much. It was a true King story for his avid readers, his hand for the disturbing on full display here. ***** 5 stars A Death – A great “period” piece mixed with a little “local color” – sorry King, I know you have “no use for that.” This one was an excellent example of how dialogue and regional slang can really set the scene and shape a work! **** 4 stars The Bone Church – I’m all for contemporary poetry that doesn’t follow the rules, but the two poetry selections presented here proved that I am not a fan of King’s attempts at that particular form of art. Disjointed and confusing, this one gets no stars. Go here to read the rest of this review!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed this book! The stories were very well told and as a whole, not very reliant on the supernatural. The characters were believable and I felt for them. Antagonist and Protagonist as well. To me, that is what has always made Stephan King's books such a joy to read! His ability to make you feel for his characters! I can't wait for his next read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Could read about 100 more of these!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great collection of stories well worth the read
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed the short stories
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Good read
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Typically Stephen King and yet not the usual for Stephen King. A great collection that is prefaced by his personal touch & testimony & a wee bit of insight to what made him write the story.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Some very good, some not so good. I did not find any repeats. Enjoyed S. Kings pre commentary to each story. JDL 12/23/16
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Short story master.
    EmoCat More than 1 year ago
    The Bazaar Stories of Bad Dreams review The Bazaar Stories of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King is a collection of short horror/science fiction stories. In one story called “Bad Little Kid”, the protagonist named George Hallas deals with an evil entity he calls the bad little kid. Throughout the story Hallas starts to realize that he will not stand this kid no more. He ends up deciding to get rid of him. As Hallas tells his story trying to escape his fate and hopes someone will actually believe him that little kid follows, making sure it will never happen. Some stories in this book are similar, showing the protagonist fighting back against the dark entity ruining their lives. As King tells this story the plot has surprises that you didn’t expect to happen so it keeps you reading. This collection of stories have similar themes like morality, destiny and regret. Hallas had to live with the pain of his loved ones and face his destiny after doing what he’s done. “If anything had happened to him, I wouldn’t be here waiting at the needle, Mr. Bradley; I would have killed myself.” The collection of short stories is similar to the book Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, by Deborah Nayes. Both are in the same genre and have similar themes. But this collection of stories has the purpose to show the meaning of gothic while Kings’ book is just a book to entertain. Both books are a collaboration between multiple authors. After reading this book I rate it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s excellent and it keeps you wanting to read more. Although I have this rating I recommend this book to mature 15 year olds and up. This is not a book for middle schoolers and below as there is a few somewhat sexual content not meant for immature minds.
    YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
    Stephen King is an author who writes well (a feat that is not as common as one would suppose). He writes a wide variety of fiction (mystery, general fiction, horror, terror, humor) all of which is of quality. Of all his work, I enjoy his short fiction the best. This collection is an excellent example of the breadth of his talent. I still hold that his talent and popularity has allowed his work to not be as well edited as it needs to be, but short fiction is “tighter” and requires the writer to be more precise in his word selection. The title of this work is misleading. Of the twenty short stories contained in this book, only three were of sufficient fright to have caused me difficulty “letting it go” enough to sleep soundly. “The Little Green God of Agony” shook me soundly; its power came from its hooking my own experience of heartbreaking pain and how powerless such pain caused me to become. “That Bus Is Another World” revealed the evil our egocentric culture has made possible by considering one’s personal agenda of more importance than the safety of others. “Summer Thunder” could be tomorrow’s news cycle and the news would NOT be welcomed (just thinking about it now gives me a shiver of fear). There a two lyric poems included in this anthology. Poetry is my weak area in literature and author’s talent in causing a good story to be told in a lyrical tone reminded me of the need to address that particular weakness. One short story “Blockade Billy” was previously published as a novella (a good read for the baseball fans among Mr. King’s followers). My favorite story (“Ur”) almost did to my using an eReader what reading Mr. King’s book Cell did for my using a cellular phone (after reading Cell, I considered returning to using messenger pigeons as a viable method of communication). In each of the stories, as is true with all good fiction, the reader finds moments where he/she has inhabited the story; reminding the reader of glimpses, pictures, or whole events almost forgotten to become crystal clear, whether those glimpses actually occurred or not. The bonus in the book is the author’s “interaction” with the reader between each story. In those few paragraphs, Mr. King lifts the curtain on his creative process. How the story came to be, where the idea came from, when the story “happened,” or an anecdote that made the story possible made present. It was almost like Mr. King and I were sitting in a living room, sipping a beverage and discussing how storytelling and story-listening creates community, defines individuals and helps us make some sense out of our life’s experience.
    nookaddictKR More than 1 year ago
    I've been a fan for years. Sadly not his best work.
    mstiger More than 1 year ago
    I love this book, Stephen King is the best. You will like this book it is very good. I enjoyed it totally.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    1 star so far..I haven't finished it yet and I may not ~ so many mistakes and the endings leave so much to be desired, they just STOP ~ no ending ~ couldn't even use my imagination to find my own ending. I found myself becoming frustrated and not liking any of the stories so far ~ in fact, the one with the dog Bizness ~ I came close to closing this book up and not reopening ~ plus King referred to Biz as "she" AND "he" ~ so please tell us Mr. King ~ was Biz a boy or a girl?? Feel like I have just dumped $15 bucks down the toilet and to think I could have donated to an animal shelter.. Early King OK, this one is pure junk ~ guess he needed some quick cash