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Full Dark, No Stars

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Stephen King

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Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
1 review about Full Dark, No Stars

King finds his way into the darkness

  • Nov 20, 2010
Full Dark, No Stars should probably come with a warning label: 'DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU'RE FEELING DEPRESSED AND NEED A PICK ME UP.' This is not a hopeful, feel-good sort of book. It's the opposite; an exploration of the darkest side of human nature and a hard look at some of the horrible things people do to each other, and more importantly how they try to live with the consequences.

It's also, on the whole, one of the best works King has written in the last decade.

Full Dark is a collection of four short novels (a stretch of the term, since "Fair Extension" clocks in at less than 40 pages, but I won't quibble. Much.). It's a format King has visited before to great success. He has room to explore ideas, but doesn't get bogged down with detail. These stories are no-nonsense pieces and cut right to the meat of the matter.

And cut they do - these four tales are almost painful to read, as they're meant to be. "1922" is a story told by a man who murders his wife, with the help of his son. He has justifications for what he does, of course, but the bulk of the story deals with what he has to do to try to live with his decision."Big Driver" begins with a woman who is brutally violated but survives, and how she deals with the aftermath. "Fair Extension" is probably the weakest story of the four (it packs the least punch), but the tale of a man who finally finds a way to get what he feels he deserves, even at a high cost to his best friend, is starkly compelling. "A Good Marriage" is in some ways the most intimate and effective story, about a wife who discovers that long-held secrets can be the hardest to live with.

Do you sense the theme here? The undercurrent of each story in Full Dark is the things that people are capable of, what they can live with and what they cannot bear. These are stories of human endurance, stretched to the limit and beyond. There is little of the supernatural in these stories (though it IS King, so each touches on it in tiny ways), but the fear that permeates each is deeper and more dangerous. It's a fear of the depths men and women will go to for revenge, for money, for envy, for hate and even for love.

Full Dark, No Stars is Stephen King taking his strongest point as a writer and turning it on its head. He's best at putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. In the case of these four stories, the circumstances are extraordinarily dark. These very ordinary characters, as rich and palpable as your next-door neighbor in King's capable hands, are trying their hardest to find a way to illuminate the darkness, with no star to guide them.

It's a journey that will make you think, and may well frighten you to your core.

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November 22, 2010
I've been hearing good things about this collection. I still can't make up my mind about when/if I will read this one. I would rather read some of King's full length novels over the stories.
November 22, 2010
It's good stuff - depending on what you're looking for, of course. I love many of King's full novels, but this collection ranks right up there with them, for me. It felt like reading his older stuff in some ways.
November 22, 2010
Hm. Interesting. Maybe I should delve into this book first before revisiting some of his novels again. Thanks for the advice and commentary!
November 20, 2010
Ha, with a title like that, perhaps that warning would be appropriate :P Great review, Rich!
November 22, 2010
Thanks devora!
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