NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES

King's third collection, after Night Shift (1978) and Skeleton Crew (1985), offers 23 formerly uncollected works, with King as bizarre as ever. A handful of the stories have been rewritten or dressed up for this occasion. King's introduction (a defense against the ivory tower opinions of his critics) and endnotes mentions several sources, including The New Yorker, which printed the lengthy "Heads Down"—about Little League teams up in Maine—that King calls "the best nonfiction writing of my life." Other oddities are a nostalgic baseball poem and a downbeat teleplay, "Sorry, Right Number," which appeared on Tales from the Darkside. Some pieces display King's charging, looser, richly vulgar style ("Dolan's Cadillac," a revenge tale in which the narrator gets even with a Mafia chieftain who killed the hero's wife, and buries him alive in his Caddie), while others occasionally show an unusually neat style hardly different from any other journeyman writer's, aside from the magical King touches ("The Moving Finger"—perhaps the best in the collection, about a man haunted by a live finger that keeps climbing out of the drain of his bathroom sink and finally grows to seven feet). Still others strive for human feeling ("Dedication"—about a longtime black cleaning maid in a fancy hotel who gets whammied by a voodoo lady and made pregnant by sperm on the bedsheets of a white novelist whose writing style gets passed on to her son)—and then some are just the King ticket readers expect: "The End of the Whole Mess"— about a polymathic genius who discovers the way to end man's inhumanity to man by altering his drinking water. Addicts, fear not: the King lives.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-85108-6

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1993

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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