Friday, June 27, 2014

The shadows inside of us

This is a story about a man being eaten by monsters of his own making. It's viscous, angry, and creepy. There are layers of insanity here that are driven by greed, jealousy, and mutual misery. It's a singularly unpleasant little tale, but one worth reading because of its examination of the fact that evil is a sickness that spreads and infects everyone it touches.

"Big Driver"
If ever there was a story that should start with "trigger warning" this is it. An author goes to a presentation and is violently raped and left for dead before she can make it back home. She discovers the identity of her rapist and plots her revenge. It's an ugly story about an ugly act but what it really has going for it is the rage and shame and helplessness that the victim feels in the aftermath of her rape. If you want a good look at rape culture take a hard look at the echo chamber in this character's head - the fear that her rape will be discovered, that she will be blamed for it, that it will hurt her career, that it will follow her everywhere she goes all the time for the rest of her life. King really seems to be making an excellent point here - the way we as a culture punish rape victims for being raped makes it feel like violence is a better option than prosecution.

"Fair Extension"
Thinner is a novel that Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman; at the end of the novel a man tries to end his curse by passing it on to his wife but instead passes it to his daughter and decides to take up the curse himself rather than let his daughter suffer alone. This novella examines what might have happened if the curse had been properly passed to the object of his hatred. A nice, normal bank manager with a run of bad luck asks for an extension that comes at the expense of his best friend since grammar school and gets it. There's something delightfully poisonous about how few qualms he has destroying another person's life.

"A Good Marriage"
What would happen if you found out you had been married to a serial killer for three decades? Would you "suffer"? Probably. King tackles that question with aplomb and tries to take a realistic look at what might happen to someone who had been happily married to a monster until that monster's mask fell off.

"Under the Weather"
 This icky little story is full of humor and madness and follows the afterword of the collection. It's not, like the novels in the collection, packed with evil people committing evil deeds - it's just the story of someone very sad trying to figure out whether life is worth living when you've lost something important. "Under the Weather" is touching and nauseating in equal measure.

     - Alli

King, Stephen. Full Dark, No Stars. Simon & Schuster. New York: New York. 2011. (2010)

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