Title: Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Author: Stephen King

Category: Fiction

Page Count: 486

Rating: 4/5

I’ve had this one lying around for a while now, but I’ve been saving it because I like to read Stephen King when I spend time travelling and obviously, COVID has been a thing. I ended up picking it up after going to visit my mum for the first time in nine months after national lockdowns and stuff.

This book is a collection of King’s short stories, and actually in this case, they are actually short enough to still count. Historically, some of his short stories have been more like novellas. Luckily, I don’t really have a preference, because King can pull them both off equally well.

What I wasn’t as keen on was his poetry, which I didn’t even know he wrote. It was free verse, which is good because rhyming poetry generally does my fruit in, but it wasn’t particularly good free verse. It was also narrative poetry, and I couldn’t help feeling that it would have worked better as traditional prose, especially in King’s hands.

One of the factors in this book’s favour is that King prefaced each of his stories with a short write-up that talks about the context in which they were written, and that reminded me of Isaac Asimov. In fact, it’s one of the things that I particularly look forward to when I pick up Asimov’s short story collections, and so it was cool to see King’s version of the same thing.

Of course, as with any short story collection, there are good stories and there are bad stories. Some of them were so short of the mark that I forgot about them as soon as I finished them, while others stuck around in my head.

Others were almost disappointing, such as the story of an old lawyer guy who saw names in the sand of a little island and they turned out to be the names of people who were going to die. There was a lot of potential to that story, but it instead over-relied on a pretty obvious twist at the end of it.

There was also a short story that King wrote for the Kindle, one that I’d heard of because I’m a completionist and I was grumpy that the only way to read it was on an e-reader, which I don’t own. I imagine that after King dies, there’ll be a few more books that will come out that feature rarer stories and other writings that haven’t been previously published, but that won’t be much of a consolation.

But for the most part, this is just a cracking read with a lot going to it, just like all of King’s collections are. I’m glad that I saved it for my travels, and I’m also glad that I finally read it. Enjoy it!

Learn more about Bazaar of Bad Dreams.