Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 14 days.

Start your free 14 days
A stunning collection from international bestseller Stephen King that displays his phenomenally broad readership (stories published in The New Yorker, Playboy, and McSweeney’s and including the 25,000 word story “Gingerbread Girl” published in Esquire).

Stephen King—who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies—delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything’s Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.

Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating—and then terrifying—journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, “The Gingerbread Girl” is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable—and resourceful—as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Wait Until Dark. In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, “N.,” which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient’s irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Just After Sunset—call it dusk, call it twilight, it’s a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It’s the perfect time for Stephen King.

Topics: United States of America, Florida, Maine, Anthology, Novella, Suspenseful, Dark, Macabre, Supernatural Powers, Ghosts, Monsters, Psychological, and Crime

Published: Scribner on
ISBN: 9781439125489
List price: $9.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Just After Sunset: Stories
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Finished last night. October 3 2009.
Some stories were brilliant like The Gingerbread Girl, N and A Very Tight Place among others. Some i did not really care for like Graduation Afternoon and Harvey's Dream but I enjoyed reading this book. I've always loved short stories, used to collect short horror stories so I was very pleased to see King do one again.more
Another collection of King's shorter works. He's still got it!more
While I did enjoy this collection overall and it does contain a couple of gems (N,The Things They Left Behind, The Gingerbread Girl) this wasn't King's strongest collection of tales. The one thing that it does have going for it over some of his better collections is that there weren't any that I would consider stinkers. For the most part, the stories contained here were all average to above-average short stories but nothing that REALLY wowed me. It's definitely a worthwhile read though and as I said before several of the tales do manage to stand out.Of course, any downside that I have from this collection is purely from previous experience with King's short stories (along with reading some spectacular short story offerings from Richard Matheson, Joe Hill and H.P. Lovecraft.) I am of the opinion that the short story form is a perfect medium for horror because in a short format the author is better able to sustain the tension throughout the tale. That may be the one weakness that I found in this collection as a whole, in that King doesn't really take advantage of the format and doesn't really include a tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat terrified of what is happening and what may be coming next.more
I got this book signed by Stephen King when it first came out, which is why I'm so disappointed that I didn't enjoy it near as much as I was hoping. My first and only signed King book and I thought it was boring.I liked the Gingerbread Girl and N. pretty well, which seem to be the two favorites of this collection. I also enjoyed Harvey's Dream and Willa quite a bit, but I seem to be in the minority on that one. All of the stories were just bleh. I couldn't even finish the last story. I usually have a strong stomache but that one grossed me out way too much and I couldn't see any value in the story at all.more
Just after Sunset, published in November 2008, is a collection of thirteen (what more appropriate number than thirteen for a King collection) Stephen King short stories. The stories gathered into this volume appear to have been written over a number of years (one of them over 30 years ago) with the shortest of them clocking in at ten pages and the longest ones running over fifty pages each. In the book’s introduction, King laments about how easy it is for a novelist to lose his short story writing skills if he does not regularly practice the craft. Obviously, from what we see here, he need not have worried too much. Of the stories in the collection, only one of them, a story called “N.” would really be called a Stephen-King-style horror story – although there is one other about a horrifying cat, titled “The Cat from Hell,” that does come close. That one, the oldest story in the book, was originally published in Cavalier magazine but this is the first time that it has been included in a Stephen King story collection. I should note, too, that there are several “ghost stories” in Just after Sunset, but none of these qualify as horror stories since the ghosts in them are generally among the stories’ most sympathetic characters.Many readers, especially King fans, already will be familiar with “The Gingerbread Girl,” a longish story that was released on CD as an audio story about six months before its inclusion in Just after Sunset. This is one of the most effective stories in the book, and it follows the theme of what I think are the best stories in this collection – that is: wacky killers, crazed seekers of revenge, and crazy do-gooders are best avoided at all costs.My personal favorites are “A Very Tight Place,” in which King demonstrates that he can still write a “gross-out” story with the best of them; “Stationary Bike,” a story in which one man learns what it really takes to keep his veins and arteries clear of all the goop he eats; and, “The Things They Left Behind,” an excellent story of one man’s survivor’s guilt after the murders of 9-11.All in all, this is a nice collection of King’s work, and the icing on the cake is a seven-page section at the end entitled “Sunset Notes,” in which King explains the origins of the stories and why he felt compelled to write them. King fans should enjoy this collection – and those less familiar with his work might be pleasantly surprised.Rated at: 4.0more
A great collection of short stories by the fright master himself, Stephen King. Personally my favorites in this book were Cat From Hell, A Very Tight Place, and Stationary Bike. Many people claim that "N" is a great story but I found it to be boring.more
I was very disappointed in this Stephen King book. The first story took awhile to become interesting. I knew some twist had to be coming since it is a SK book, but I didn't enjoy the story up to that point. The only story I really enjoyed was "The Cat from Hell." Very disappointing for a Stephen King book!more
I listened to Gingerbread Girl and Stationary Bike as stand-alone books, so I was disappointed that they were included in the collection. A few of the stories were bland. However, N. made up for all of that! If you only want to read one excellent short story, N. is it.more
Read it for the story "N" if for nothing else. Actually, read the rest of it too.more
As with most short story collections, there's a variant in the quality of each story (which could be down to personal taste as much as anything). Willa and Harvey's Dream were quite simple, more snapshots than fully formed tales. However some of these stories were excellent - Stationary Bike and N. were both highly atmospheric, and The Gingerbread Girl literally made me squirm as the tension was built and was then maintained - one of King's particular strengths. I'd recommend this to anyone, not just King fans.more
King's longer works have bordered on unreadable/uninteresting for me lately, which is saddening. However, he consistently knocks it out in the short story/novella field, and "Just After Sunset" is in no way disappointing. Some stories are old-school King, hearkening "'Salem's Lot" and "The Regulators" (or "Desperation," if you prefer), but the stand-out story in this collection is "N." The tale of contagious OCD is reminiscent of Lovecraft, with subtly frightening implications and overtly terrifying, otherworldly things. In all, the collection is a good mix of scary, intriguing, and subtle, with King's running themes of "thin areas," possession and mental illness making appearances in all the right places.more
Less gruesome then other collections of short stories, but the writing is really goodmore
WILLA In the movie, The Sixth Sense (one of the few movies I wasn't able to second guess) the little boy discovers with the help of a psychologist that he can talk to dead people--and that's okay--because nine times out of ten the dead are just like the living-- trying to figure things out. The neat little twist to this story is the psychologist is dead but he just doesn't know it. These dead people the little boy sees "don't know they are dead." "They see only what they want to see." Stephen King takes this idea of the oblivious dead and explores it in his short story, WILLA, the first tale in the Just After Midnight collection. What King does so well here is not describe flesh-eating zombies, or demon-possessed trains but regular people's reactions to unusal events--like realizing you're dead. The story opens with a group of folks waiting for a train except David soon realizes that his fiance, Willa is missing. Against the advice of every well-drawn character in the station, David ventures out in the dark, among the wolves, to find Willa. So at this point the story I'm thinking this is a tale is about demon-possessed wolves or that maybe Willa will turn into a She-Wolfe and eat David. But none of that happens. David discovers Willa at a bar with a loud band whose singer reminds him of Buck Owens. The terror here is understated but still very real. WILLA is an exploration of fear of the unknown, denial of reality and acceptance of what can't be changed. This is everyday experiance set in an afterlife backdrop. There are those who wait for something to happen and those who make something happen. Maybe Hell's waiting for a train that will never come and just maybe Heaven's dancing for eternity to band with a Buck Owens twang. I'm kinda hoping for the latter, truth be told, I've had a crush on ole Buck since I was twelve.more
A nice collection of classic Stephen King short stories. King is at his best in the short form, and while this is a competent grouping, it's not his best.more
I'd like to start by saying that I'm not a big fan of short stories. There never seems to be enough time to develop anything. However, I also love Stephen King, so I found myself reading a book of his short stories thinking that it would probably be ok as one great would more than cancel out the bad. For the most part it was a great book. There were only a couple of the stories that didn't please me as much as they could have...had they been developed and expanded into full size books. So I'll give a short wrap-up of each one, but I don't want to give too much away.1. Willa was a nice short little story to get the blood flowing and the eyes working. It was sweet and happy with a bit of sadness tossed in for flavor.2. The Gingerbread Girl is a story of running, and how running can either save you or...well...not save you I guess. A woman finds herself pitted against quite a psycho.3. Harvey's dream left me with one question....What? I totally missed the point on this one. 4. Rest Stop was one of the best in the book. A look at what would you do if you found yourself in a situation you needed to handle, but weren't sure if you could.5. Stationary Bike was another excellent one, where imagination meets reality and a man may have gone too far trying to get into shape.6. The Things They Left Behind was touching and moving, but it left me wondering What? agian. It was well written, but the topic deserved to have more to it than just a short story.7. Graduation Afternoon is a great start for a book. It reads almost as if King started to write one and then stopped after the first chapter.8. N. is probably my favorite in the book and actually kept me up late to finish. Good old fashioned Stephen King horror.9. The Cat From Hell had me laughing, but I don't think I was supposed to. (Richard you will not want to read this one.)10. The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates is one I hardy even remember reading. A story about moving on and accepting death.11. Mute was very entertaining if predictable. What happens when you confess your innermost thoughts to a hitchhiker that you think is deaf and mute? Well, let me tell you it isn't what you expect.12. Ayana reminded a bit of The Green Mile. A story of healing and miracles.13. A Very Tight Place is probably my second favorite in the book. A good old fashioned suspense about a neighbor that takes his frustrations out on his gay neighbor...but maybe the tables will end up being turned.So, there you have it. It wasn't a waste of time, but I would have ripped some of those pages out had I been the editor. But if I did that then we wouldn't have the magical number of thirteen stories!3.5/5more
I generally don't read King, as I find most of his books don't live up to the complexity of The Stand (and, for my taste, resort too often to the gross-out), but the collection here was more exploratory and fantasy oriented than gross, and I found it a pleasant surprise (except for the last story, which shouldn't be read while eating, even those tiny airplane peanuts). A collection of short stories with no real theme, it's best read in pieces, rather than one after the other. The stories vary in quality, but overall present interesting takes on common themes and are well executed with the right amount of detail for a short story. Worth a read as light entertainment.more
Stephen King brings us a very mature, thoughtful group of short stories in this collection. More "literary" than previous shorts, the stories stay with you long after you close the book. "The Things They Left Behind" was haunting; "Willa" had me thinking that in ways, we're all ghosts. We all filter the world and our lives through our own eyes, and sometimes we don't look truthfully at what we see. "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates" tugged at my heart and left me longing; but my favorite in the collection was "Graduation Afternoon." Stephen's word choice for this story was poetic. The language was flowing and peaceful and beautiful, despite what was coming. Stephen's work changes like a chameleon. He has writings that run the gamut of genres. The old argument that he is just a horror writer doesn't hold water anymore. Get over it people! He is an author guy stepping out of that creepy box you keep trying to stuff him into.more
Mute is by far one of his best short stories - It's the gem in this collection.more
I'm not a big fan of King's novels, but as people kept encouraging me to try his short stories, I picked this up. The stories are well-written, entertaining, and occasionally brilliant. They run the gamut from serial killers to ghost stories to a Lovecraft tribute and made for a great read.more
This wasn't my favorite collection of short stories, but it still gave me goosebumps a few times. The stories themselves seemed to be filled with deeper meaning at times and less designed for the simple fear factor. I love the Gingerbread Girl, Willa, and The Things They Left Behind, each for different reasons. The Cat From Hell was fun too.more
I've always found King's shortstories to be worthwhile, and for me this was a fascinating mix of literary suspense and traditional King-style horror. About half of the stories, while of dark content, just aren't horror--they are good, though. Reading them, though, I could understand how some of King's long-standing readers might be disappointed. About half of the stories have nothing of the super-natural, though they're fast and spellbinding reads. Because of this, the book is a really fascinating look into an author who literary critics consistently disagree about as to his lasting literary value versus just mainstream entertainment. I have to admit that while I don't think much of a few of King's works (Cell stands out as a low point for me), much of his work is literary--smart, well-written, and ready to stand up to time in both material and writing style. As a collection, Just After Sunset is a roller-coaster ride of suspense and horror stories, some of which may well keep you up at night. With the caveat to steadfast horror lovers that not everything here is of a supernatural nature, I recommend the collection to King lovers and short story lovers alike, as well as to those folks who just like a good story of suspense. I may not come back to this collection like I come back to some of his others, but it's a good read.more
I really hate saying it, but I hate even more that King keeps proving it: he hasn't had "it" since finishing the Dark Tower series. Yes, his writing has gone down hill since he "stopped writing." Anyway, nothing really stands out here. The stories aren't necessarily bad, but at this point in his career, I guess I expect more than that.more
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.more
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.more
You know, Stephen King writes one hell of a good short story. No matter what you think of his novels, his short stories are excellent - well-crafted, full of suspense, and rich with wonderful, descriptive language. They are the thing he does best, in my opinion, and even if I never read another one of his novels, I would always gobble up his stories.more
A tremendously average collection of stories. I think old Steve has lost his edge. Readable but missing the the odd darkness that used to be there. Compare earlier collections to these tales and note the difference. There were no surprises. There were a couple of good stories but overall a C.more
I have found that I tend to prefer Stephen King’s short fiction to his novels. For my taste, the novels often lack the tense, taut, highly strained level of tension King is able to sustain in his shorter works, and if I am going to be reading a horror story, I want to be on the edge of my seat at least 80 to 90% of the time, if possible! So I was pretty happy when I saw that “Just After Sunset,” King’s first collection of short fiction since 2002, was coming out. In the introduction to the collection, King credits his editing of the 2007 edition of “The Best American Short Stories” with re-inspiring his desire to work with the shorter form…which was, he tells us, his bread-and-butter in the days before he made it big as a novelist. Most of the stories in this collection were written after his 2007 editorial stint, with only one dating to an earlier period of King’s career.The collection is hit-and-miss, but when it hits, it hits hard! Some of the shorter works, such as “Rest Stop” and “Graduation Afternoon,” work best as slightly disturbing character studies. Others, such as “Willa” and “The Stationary Bike,” provide old-school Stephen King thrills, leavened with a bit of heart. The real stand-out in the collection, however, is the unutterably creepy “N.” Inspired by Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” and borrowing equally from the style and themes of H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos stories, “N.” morphs slowly from an absorbing profile of obsessive-compulsive behavior into a tale of the darkness that lurks behind the known world, waiting to break free.All in all, not a bad return to the form by King! Here’s hoping he keeps it up rather than churning out more of the doorstop novels that only become interesting a few chapters from the end.more
Perhaps it was because his kindly face kept peeking out at me from the jacket flap, but I read this book immediately after ankle surgery, when I was in a fevered state of muted pain and a complete inability to sleep and each story was a winner. 'The Gingerbread Girl' and 'A Very Tight Place' were my favorites. The post 9/11 tale, the things they left behind, was especiially touching.more
With this latest collection of short stories,King once more assumes the mantle of a great story-teller,something that has been missing from his recent novels I fear.Here are 13 tales of which most are excellent,notably 'Willa',a surprisingly gentle ghost story ; 'The Gingerbread Girl',my personal favorite,is a pure page-turner about a woman in the hands of a homicidal maniac ; 'Rest Stop' tells of a situation that could happen to anyone and could turn very nasty indeed ; 'The Cat from Hell' is about,well,a cat from hell,and 'N", which King mentions in his useful notes which complete the book as influenced by Arthur Machen's 'The Great God Pan' I would have thought was influenced by H.P.Lovecraft instead,There are many clever twists and turns to be found between these covers and all power to him for them. It is unfortunate that King being King, just cannot resist going well over the top on a couple of occasions. 'Gross-out' I believe he has called it. Other readers may well like it,but I think that he spoils himself and would be a much better writer if he reined himself back.Apart from that a first-class collection.more
With this collection of short stories, King has returned to the level of suspense-driven, intimate storytelling that characterizes his best works, and it’s about time. After a string of lackluster novels, I was about to give up on my favorite author, but Just After Sunset has made me a fan again.My favorite two stories were the two that open the collection. “Willa” is haunting and eerie, yet also romantic, a musing about what happens to the dead after they die; I found it to be more affecting than the other story that explores a similar theme, “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates,” even though in his notes, King thought the second story was stronger. And “The Gingerbread Girl” is harrowing, heart-pumping suspense; like King, I like that in this story, everything hinges on the details.Other standouts for me were: “Stationery Bike,” a tongue-in-cheek response to our health-obsessed culture; “The Things They Left Behind,” a meditation on September 11 and its lingering effects on the survivors; and “Ayana,” about how healing powers might work and the curse they might bring. There are some examples of vintage gross-out King, as well; do not read “The Cat From Hell” or “A Very Tight Place” unless you have a strong stomach. And of course, there are a few weak offerings, such as “Harvey’s Dream” and “Graduation Afternoon,” which both originated in dreams and show it.I tore through even the weak stories, and simply devoured this book whole. All I can say is thank you to Mr. King for this great collection and for showing that he hasn’t lost it after all.more
Read all 40 reviews

Reviews

Finished last night. October 3 2009.
Some stories were brilliant like The Gingerbread Girl, N and A Very Tight Place among others. Some i did not really care for like Graduation Afternoon and Harvey's Dream but I enjoyed reading this book. I've always loved short stories, used to collect short horror stories so I was very pleased to see King do one again.more
Another collection of King's shorter works. He's still got it!more
While I did enjoy this collection overall and it does contain a couple of gems (N,The Things They Left Behind, The Gingerbread Girl) this wasn't King's strongest collection of tales. The one thing that it does have going for it over some of his better collections is that there weren't any that I would consider stinkers. For the most part, the stories contained here were all average to above-average short stories but nothing that REALLY wowed me. It's definitely a worthwhile read though and as I said before several of the tales do manage to stand out.Of course, any downside that I have from this collection is purely from previous experience with King's short stories (along with reading some spectacular short story offerings from Richard Matheson, Joe Hill and H.P. Lovecraft.) I am of the opinion that the short story form is a perfect medium for horror because in a short format the author is better able to sustain the tension throughout the tale. That may be the one weakness that I found in this collection as a whole, in that King doesn't really take advantage of the format and doesn't really include a tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat terrified of what is happening and what may be coming next.more
I got this book signed by Stephen King when it first came out, which is why I'm so disappointed that I didn't enjoy it near as much as I was hoping. My first and only signed King book and I thought it was boring.I liked the Gingerbread Girl and N. pretty well, which seem to be the two favorites of this collection. I also enjoyed Harvey's Dream and Willa quite a bit, but I seem to be in the minority on that one. All of the stories were just bleh. I couldn't even finish the last story. I usually have a strong stomache but that one grossed me out way too much and I couldn't see any value in the story at all.more
Just after Sunset, published in November 2008, is a collection of thirteen (what more appropriate number than thirteen for a King collection) Stephen King short stories. The stories gathered into this volume appear to have been written over a number of years (one of them over 30 years ago) with the shortest of them clocking in at ten pages and the longest ones running over fifty pages each. In the book’s introduction, King laments about how easy it is for a novelist to lose his short story writing skills if he does not regularly practice the craft. Obviously, from what we see here, he need not have worried too much. Of the stories in the collection, only one of them, a story called “N.” would really be called a Stephen-King-style horror story – although there is one other about a horrifying cat, titled “The Cat from Hell,” that does come close. That one, the oldest story in the book, was originally published in Cavalier magazine but this is the first time that it has been included in a Stephen King story collection. I should note, too, that there are several “ghost stories” in Just after Sunset, but none of these qualify as horror stories since the ghosts in them are generally among the stories’ most sympathetic characters.Many readers, especially King fans, already will be familiar with “The Gingerbread Girl,” a longish story that was released on CD as an audio story about six months before its inclusion in Just after Sunset. This is one of the most effective stories in the book, and it follows the theme of what I think are the best stories in this collection – that is: wacky killers, crazed seekers of revenge, and crazy do-gooders are best avoided at all costs.My personal favorites are “A Very Tight Place,” in which King demonstrates that he can still write a “gross-out” story with the best of them; “Stationary Bike,” a story in which one man learns what it really takes to keep his veins and arteries clear of all the goop he eats; and, “The Things They Left Behind,” an excellent story of one man’s survivor’s guilt after the murders of 9-11.All in all, this is a nice collection of King’s work, and the icing on the cake is a seven-page section at the end entitled “Sunset Notes,” in which King explains the origins of the stories and why he felt compelled to write them. King fans should enjoy this collection – and those less familiar with his work might be pleasantly surprised.Rated at: 4.0more
A great collection of short stories by the fright master himself, Stephen King. Personally my favorites in this book were Cat From Hell, A Very Tight Place, and Stationary Bike. Many people claim that "N" is a great story but I found it to be boring.more
I was very disappointed in this Stephen King book. The first story took awhile to become interesting. I knew some twist had to be coming since it is a SK book, but I didn't enjoy the story up to that point. The only story I really enjoyed was "The Cat from Hell." Very disappointing for a Stephen King book!more
I listened to Gingerbread Girl and Stationary Bike as stand-alone books, so I was disappointed that they were included in the collection. A few of the stories were bland. However, N. made up for all of that! If you only want to read one excellent short story, N. is it.more
Read it for the story "N" if for nothing else. Actually, read the rest of it too.more
As with most short story collections, there's a variant in the quality of each story (which could be down to personal taste as much as anything). Willa and Harvey's Dream were quite simple, more snapshots than fully formed tales. However some of these stories were excellent - Stationary Bike and N. were both highly atmospheric, and The Gingerbread Girl literally made me squirm as the tension was built and was then maintained - one of King's particular strengths. I'd recommend this to anyone, not just King fans.more
King's longer works have bordered on unreadable/uninteresting for me lately, which is saddening. However, he consistently knocks it out in the short story/novella field, and "Just After Sunset" is in no way disappointing. Some stories are old-school King, hearkening "'Salem's Lot" and "The Regulators" (or "Desperation," if you prefer), but the stand-out story in this collection is "N." The tale of contagious OCD is reminiscent of Lovecraft, with subtly frightening implications and overtly terrifying, otherworldly things. In all, the collection is a good mix of scary, intriguing, and subtle, with King's running themes of "thin areas," possession and mental illness making appearances in all the right places.more
Less gruesome then other collections of short stories, but the writing is really goodmore
WILLA In the movie, The Sixth Sense (one of the few movies I wasn't able to second guess) the little boy discovers with the help of a psychologist that he can talk to dead people--and that's okay--because nine times out of ten the dead are just like the living-- trying to figure things out. The neat little twist to this story is the psychologist is dead but he just doesn't know it. These dead people the little boy sees "don't know they are dead." "They see only what they want to see." Stephen King takes this idea of the oblivious dead and explores it in his short story, WILLA, the first tale in the Just After Midnight collection. What King does so well here is not describe flesh-eating zombies, or demon-possessed trains but regular people's reactions to unusal events--like realizing you're dead. The story opens with a group of folks waiting for a train except David soon realizes that his fiance, Willa is missing. Against the advice of every well-drawn character in the station, David ventures out in the dark, among the wolves, to find Willa. So at this point the story I'm thinking this is a tale is about demon-possessed wolves or that maybe Willa will turn into a She-Wolfe and eat David. But none of that happens. David discovers Willa at a bar with a loud band whose singer reminds him of Buck Owens. The terror here is understated but still very real. WILLA is an exploration of fear of the unknown, denial of reality and acceptance of what can't be changed. This is everyday experiance set in an afterlife backdrop. There are those who wait for something to happen and those who make something happen. Maybe Hell's waiting for a train that will never come and just maybe Heaven's dancing for eternity to band with a Buck Owens twang. I'm kinda hoping for the latter, truth be told, I've had a crush on ole Buck since I was twelve.more
A nice collection of classic Stephen King short stories. King is at his best in the short form, and while this is a competent grouping, it's not his best.more
I'd like to start by saying that I'm not a big fan of short stories. There never seems to be enough time to develop anything. However, I also love Stephen King, so I found myself reading a book of his short stories thinking that it would probably be ok as one great would more than cancel out the bad. For the most part it was a great book. There were only a couple of the stories that didn't please me as much as they could have...had they been developed and expanded into full size books. So I'll give a short wrap-up of each one, but I don't want to give too much away.1. Willa was a nice short little story to get the blood flowing and the eyes working. It was sweet and happy with a bit of sadness tossed in for flavor.2. The Gingerbread Girl is a story of running, and how running can either save you or...well...not save you I guess. A woman finds herself pitted against quite a psycho.3. Harvey's dream left me with one question....What? I totally missed the point on this one. 4. Rest Stop was one of the best in the book. A look at what would you do if you found yourself in a situation you needed to handle, but weren't sure if you could.5. Stationary Bike was another excellent one, where imagination meets reality and a man may have gone too far trying to get into shape.6. The Things They Left Behind was touching and moving, but it left me wondering What? agian. It was well written, but the topic deserved to have more to it than just a short story.7. Graduation Afternoon is a great start for a book. It reads almost as if King started to write one and then stopped after the first chapter.8. N. is probably my favorite in the book and actually kept me up late to finish. Good old fashioned Stephen King horror.9. The Cat From Hell had me laughing, but I don't think I was supposed to. (Richard you will not want to read this one.)10. The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates is one I hardy even remember reading. A story about moving on and accepting death.11. Mute was very entertaining if predictable. What happens when you confess your innermost thoughts to a hitchhiker that you think is deaf and mute? Well, let me tell you it isn't what you expect.12. Ayana reminded a bit of The Green Mile. A story of healing and miracles.13. A Very Tight Place is probably my second favorite in the book. A good old fashioned suspense about a neighbor that takes his frustrations out on his gay neighbor...but maybe the tables will end up being turned.So, there you have it. It wasn't a waste of time, but I would have ripped some of those pages out had I been the editor. But if I did that then we wouldn't have the magical number of thirteen stories!3.5/5more
I generally don't read King, as I find most of his books don't live up to the complexity of The Stand (and, for my taste, resort too often to the gross-out), but the collection here was more exploratory and fantasy oriented than gross, and I found it a pleasant surprise (except for the last story, which shouldn't be read while eating, even those tiny airplane peanuts). A collection of short stories with no real theme, it's best read in pieces, rather than one after the other. The stories vary in quality, but overall present interesting takes on common themes and are well executed with the right amount of detail for a short story. Worth a read as light entertainment.more
Stephen King brings us a very mature, thoughtful group of short stories in this collection. More "literary" than previous shorts, the stories stay with you long after you close the book. "The Things They Left Behind" was haunting; "Willa" had me thinking that in ways, we're all ghosts. We all filter the world and our lives through our own eyes, and sometimes we don't look truthfully at what we see. "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates" tugged at my heart and left me longing; but my favorite in the collection was "Graduation Afternoon." Stephen's word choice for this story was poetic. The language was flowing and peaceful and beautiful, despite what was coming. Stephen's work changes like a chameleon. He has writings that run the gamut of genres. The old argument that he is just a horror writer doesn't hold water anymore. Get over it people! He is an author guy stepping out of that creepy box you keep trying to stuff him into.more
Mute is by far one of his best short stories - It's the gem in this collection.more
I'm not a big fan of King's novels, but as people kept encouraging me to try his short stories, I picked this up. The stories are well-written, entertaining, and occasionally brilliant. They run the gamut from serial killers to ghost stories to a Lovecraft tribute and made for a great read.more
This wasn't my favorite collection of short stories, but it still gave me goosebumps a few times. The stories themselves seemed to be filled with deeper meaning at times and less designed for the simple fear factor. I love the Gingerbread Girl, Willa, and The Things They Left Behind, each for different reasons. The Cat From Hell was fun too.more
I've always found King's shortstories to be worthwhile, and for me this was a fascinating mix of literary suspense and traditional King-style horror. About half of the stories, while of dark content, just aren't horror--they are good, though. Reading them, though, I could understand how some of King's long-standing readers might be disappointed. About half of the stories have nothing of the super-natural, though they're fast and spellbinding reads. Because of this, the book is a really fascinating look into an author who literary critics consistently disagree about as to his lasting literary value versus just mainstream entertainment. I have to admit that while I don't think much of a few of King's works (Cell stands out as a low point for me), much of his work is literary--smart, well-written, and ready to stand up to time in both material and writing style. As a collection, Just After Sunset is a roller-coaster ride of suspense and horror stories, some of which may well keep you up at night. With the caveat to steadfast horror lovers that not everything here is of a supernatural nature, I recommend the collection to King lovers and short story lovers alike, as well as to those folks who just like a good story of suspense. I may not come back to this collection like I come back to some of his others, but it's a good read.more
I really hate saying it, but I hate even more that King keeps proving it: he hasn't had "it" since finishing the Dark Tower series. Yes, his writing has gone down hill since he "stopped writing." Anyway, nothing really stands out here. The stories aren't necessarily bad, but at this point in his career, I guess I expect more than that.more
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.more
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.more
You know, Stephen King writes one hell of a good short story. No matter what you think of his novels, his short stories are excellent - well-crafted, full of suspense, and rich with wonderful, descriptive language. They are the thing he does best, in my opinion, and even if I never read another one of his novels, I would always gobble up his stories.more
A tremendously average collection of stories. I think old Steve has lost his edge. Readable but missing the the odd darkness that used to be there. Compare earlier collections to these tales and note the difference. There were no surprises. There were a couple of good stories but overall a C.more
I have found that I tend to prefer Stephen King’s short fiction to his novels. For my taste, the novels often lack the tense, taut, highly strained level of tension King is able to sustain in his shorter works, and if I am going to be reading a horror story, I want to be on the edge of my seat at least 80 to 90% of the time, if possible! So I was pretty happy when I saw that “Just After Sunset,” King’s first collection of short fiction since 2002, was coming out. In the introduction to the collection, King credits his editing of the 2007 edition of “The Best American Short Stories” with re-inspiring his desire to work with the shorter form…which was, he tells us, his bread-and-butter in the days before he made it big as a novelist. Most of the stories in this collection were written after his 2007 editorial stint, with only one dating to an earlier period of King’s career.The collection is hit-and-miss, but when it hits, it hits hard! Some of the shorter works, such as “Rest Stop” and “Graduation Afternoon,” work best as slightly disturbing character studies. Others, such as “Willa” and “The Stationary Bike,” provide old-school Stephen King thrills, leavened with a bit of heart. The real stand-out in the collection, however, is the unutterably creepy “N.” Inspired by Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” and borrowing equally from the style and themes of H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos stories, “N.” morphs slowly from an absorbing profile of obsessive-compulsive behavior into a tale of the darkness that lurks behind the known world, waiting to break free.All in all, not a bad return to the form by King! Here’s hoping he keeps it up rather than churning out more of the doorstop novels that only become interesting a few chapters from the end.more
Perhaps it was because his kindly face kept peeking out at me from the jacket flap, but I read this book immediately after ankle surgery, when I was in a fevered state of muted pain and a complete inability to sleep and each story was a winner. 'The Gingerbread Girl' and 'A Very Tight Place' were my favorites. The post 9/11 tale, the things they left behind, was especiially touching.more
With this latest collection of short stories,King once more assumes the mantle of a great story-teller,something that has been missing from his recent novels I fear.Here are 13 tales of which most are excellent,notably 'Willa',a surprisingly gentle ghost story ; 'The Gingerbread Girl',my personal favorite,is a pure page-turner about a woman in the hands of a homicidal maniac ; 'Rest Stop' tells of a situation that could happen to anyone and could turn very nasty indeed ; 'The Cat from Hell' is about,well,a cat from hell,and 'N", which King mentions in his useful notes which complete the book as influenced by Arthur Machen's 'The Great God Pan' I would have thought was influenced by H.P.Lovecraft instead,There are many clever twists and turns to be found between these covers and all power to him for them. It is unfortunate that King being King, just cannot resist going well over the top on a couple of occasions. 'Gross-out' I believe he has called it. Other readers may well like it,but I think that he spoils himself and would be a much better writer if he reined himself back.Apart from that a first-class collection.more
With this collection of short stories, King has returned to the level of suspense-driven, intimate storytelling that characterizes his best works, and it’s about time. After a string of lackluster novels, I was about to give up on my favorite author, but Just After Sunset has made me a fan again.My favorite two stories were the two that open the collection. “Willa” is haunting and eerie, yet also romantic, a musing about what happens to the dead after they die; I found it to be more affecting than the other story that explores a similar theme, “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates,” even though in his notes, King thought the second story was stronger. And “The Gingerbread Girl” is harrowing, heart-pumping suspense; like King, I like that in this story, everything hinges on the details.Other standouts for me were: “Stationery Bike,” a tongue-in-cheek response to our health-obsessed culture; “The Things They Left Behind,” a meditation on September 11 and its lingering effects on the survivors; and “Ayana,” about how healing powers might work and the curse they might bring. There are some examples of vintage gross-out King, as well; do not read “The Cat From Hell” or “A Very Tight Place” unless you have a strong stomach. And of course, there are a few weak offerings, such as “Harvey’s Dream” and “Graduation Afternoon,” which both originated in dreams and show it.I tore through even the weak stories, and simply devoured this book whole. All I can say is thank you to Mr. King for this great collection and for showing that he hasn’t lost it after all.more
Load more
scribd