At midnight comes the point of balance. Of danger. The instant of utter stillness when, between two beats of the heart, an alternative reality can slip through, like a blade between the ribs, and switch you into a new and terrifying world.
Four Past Midnight: four heart-stopping accounts of that moment when the familiar world fractures beyond sense, the fragments spinning away from the desperate, clutching reach of sanity....
©1990 Stephen King (P)1991 Penguin Highbridge Audio
Four long novellas for the price of one book, what more could you ask for. Most writers would have padded the stories a little bit and sold them separately, but not Stephen King, his output is amazing and the stories are solid King territory, America at its best and worst, drunks and monsters, children and the terror of growing up with dark secrets and abuse ( a recurring theme in all of his books) these themes get put aside for in favor of emphasising the gore when discussing his work.
I have been re-reading his books and doing so I find patterns and repetitions that point to a man that is concerned with children's suffering and what changes them, alcohol is a big character in most stories a presence that changes lives a hiding place were horror gathers all its toys.
The Library policeman is the best story for my taste and the most disturbing. Sun Dog is surrealistic and the best father-son he has written. Langoliers is a very different time travel story. Secret Window Secret Garden, is a breakup story like no other. Take your pick, I take them all.
Langoliers: Willem Dafoe reads what is essentially an updated version of the Twilight Zone's 'King Nine will not return' while confusing English accents with South African. Brings a two star story up to a four
Secret Window Secret Garden: Hades is by far the best star narrator since Paul Giamatti, taking a predictable thriller and turning it into the verbal equivalent of a Three Card Monty game. You don't really care what happens as long as Woods is narrating at his rat-a-tat pace
Library Policeman: Excellent buildup to a terrible conclusion, saved by the fantastic narration of Ken Howard. Think RC Bray reading Stephen King and you'll savour this one
Sun Dog: Finally, both sides balance out. A great story, a fine narrator. Should have traded with Dafoe and it would have been an extra half star.
Buy if it's on offer but otherwise leave it on your wish list. I also should add at this point it's still better than anything King has conjured with in this century
I am a Stephen King fan, but these four short stories must be the worst things he's ever written. All four are pointless and meandering codswallop.
But worse still, the four narrators are awful. The first seems to think English and South African accents are interchangeable. The second....actually I'll leave it there.
Avoid at all costs!!
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