Showing posts with label short story collection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short story collection. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Review] Nightmares & Dreamscapes (#1) - Stephen King: 90% filler and Eerie Conclusions. You call that horror?

This is a short story collection full of supposedly scary short story tales.

What intrigued me: I haven't read a book by Stephen King before and I'm in a massive reading slump, so reading a scary short story collection seems like a good idea!

Not scary, not even remotely horror!

My favorite thing about this is probably the foreword. The stories weren't what I expected them to be. I was hoping for a lot of scary reads, but this is just a random collection of mediocre short stories.

His ideas are very unique, inspiring, and interesting, but in no way what the title NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES suggests. You aren't going to find anything remotely creepy in here, most are just tales about weird people with weird goals, but scary and nightmare-ish is a completely different thing. As it is I was somewhat entertained, but this is just not what the short story collection is advertised as and it's very disappointing, especially because this is my first Stephen King read.

However, I do enjoy King's writing style to some extent. It's easy and quick to read, but I think he overdoes it with the character building. That's also why most of his stories have very weak and slow beginnings that make you want to quit before you've actually gotten to the story. Especially for short stories, you don't need to know about the protagonist's parents and grandparents, or any other specific character building element. I was hoping for the stories to terrify me from beginning to the end but most stories can only deliver a small somewhat eerie conclusion and are 90% filler.

Individual stories & ratings

  • 1. Dolan's Cadillac ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A widower is trying to murder the guy who's responsible for his wife's death by digging a hole and burying him and his expensive car alive.
Opinion: Not scary, just insanely boring. and long-winded. I could hardly finish this.

  • 2. The End of the Whole Mess ★★★★★

Plot: A brilliant prodigy finds a way to cure humanity from its original sin. But for a price.
Opinion: I loved this so much, it's so interesting to see how the mind of a highly intelligent character works. I would love a full-length novel about this. Some continuity issues and an unsatisfying ending, but overall SUPER interesting. Again, not scary though.

  • 3. Suffer the Little Children ★★★☆☆

Plot: Mean teacher is the only one that realizes all children in her school are possessed by monsters.
Opinion: Another boring one. The premise is very interesting, but it's not very scary and too much is left open. 

  • 4. The Night Flier ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: Reporter seeks out someone whom he believes to be a serial killer that thinks they're a vampire, but the guy actually turns out to be a vampire.
Opinion: Horrible. Such a slow beginning, so much unnecessary monologues and backstory, and a very, very disappointing creature that isn't scary in the least. A very long story that feels like I 100% wasted my time even bothering with this one.

  • 5. Popsy ★★★★☆

Plot: A gambling-addict-turned-child-abductor abducts a monster spawn.
Opinion: I loved this. Less annoying backstory as in the previous stories and a convincing monster story, that I really, really liked. Not as scary as I wanted it to be, but another candidate that I'd like a full-length novel of.

  • 6. It Grows on You ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: A mysterious house keeps on growing and adding new wings even long after its owner died.
Opinion: The worst case of please show instead of tell I've ever witnessed. So much backstory oh my god. Seems very pointless to me.

  • 7. Chattery Teeth ★★★★☆

Plot: A man picks up an evil hitchhiker and gets saved by a joke item.
Opinion: Interesting and a little eerie. Though too much gore for my taste. 

  • 8. Dedication ★★☆☆☆

Plot: A maid consumes eats her boss' semen to work a magic spell so her child would grow up to be as talented as him
Opinion: The main flaw of the story is that it's told in retrospective. It's also really weird.

  • 9. The Moving Finger ★★★☆☆

Plot: There is a moving finger perking out of someone's drain and they really don't like it.
Opinion: Super weird. I don't know if I thought it was scary, more bloody, actually. It was okay, but I missed the ~logical explanation~ part.

  • 10. Sneakers ★★☆☆☆

Plot: The ghost of a murdered man comes back to sit on a toilet and wear dirty sneakers.
Opinion: Not a fan of public restroom horror or whatever this is. I was glad to have at least one ghost story in this though.

  • 11. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A couple on a road trip encounters a town full of dead musicians.
Opinion: Too much gore for me and a very weak premise.

  • 12. Home Delivery ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: An old-fashioned zombie outbreak story.
Opinion: Nothing special, very boring!

Overall Rating:



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not as your first King read. I was disappointed because I was looking for something super scary. It's an okay short story collection, but the title is very misleading.

Additional Info

Published: June 30th 2009
Pages: 897 (1+2)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN:  9781439102565

"A collection of short stories, several being published for the first time, offers a spine-tingling journey to the nightmare world created by a master of sheer terror and grotesque imagination."
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some good scary reads?

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Review] Anatomy Lesson - Matt Spadafora

"Anatomy Lesson" is a collection of eleven autobiographical short stories, all centered around the human body.

I'm not a short-story person. Especially not if they're autobiographical. To me, non-fiction can easily get tiring. So it's quite an accomplishment that I actually liked this one.

Vivid Imagery and Honest Writing: A Winning Combination
I have to admit that I needed a while to get accustomed to the writing style. Spadafora writes in very short, staccato-like sentences. If you're not used to it, it's very hard to get used to. I started skimming pages at first and then forced myself to go back because I didn't want to miss anything.

The first story isn't a great way to hit things off, too much monologue and too little direction made me put this book away and try again later. By the second story though, "Ears", a story involving bullies and sexuality, I completely lost it. I think it was a mixture of the writing and the way Spadafora is able to convey emotions that made me so angry and emotional, and - wow. By then, the deal was sealed. I didn't expect to like this as much as I did.

In general the book really benefits from Spadafora's extraordinary ability to convey emotion. I especially loved it when he just wrote the thoughts of the protagonist out in cursive, it just feels honest and real. I really liked that you can tell he isn't trying to alter the way things happened. Spadafora just knows how to set a scene. The images were popping into my head starting from there and to me it felt like the narration was getting realer with every story I read. Or maybe I just started to connect with the protagonist.

The biggest danger and mistake you can make when writing non-fiction is losing yourself in details. Spadafora chooses the topics he wants to talk about carefully and I'm actually amazed by how many interesting things a twenty-something has to tell. The more I read, the more I thought I wouldn't mind reading a contemporary novel about this.

Continuity Issues and No Common Theme

I'm not so sure what I think of the collection as a whole. There is not really a common theme to me, it just feels anecdotes, connecting through the body parts. Maybe that was the intention, but I felt really unsatisfied when I finished this.

I'm not a fan of time-jumps, flashbacks, and the like. My favorite books all stick to one timeline and therefore it really irked me whenever Spadafora jumps in time. Just when I grew to understand the Matt of one story, we jump five years back or forth.
I loved the continuity (ish) between "Heart" and "Hands", two stories about a crush on a girl. I feel like the whole collection would have definitely benefited from it all, had Spadafora chosen a common theme, and a set time line.

I would have loved for it all to tell a story, and to make sense in the end. Then again, they're short stories. This is why I usually don't read them, I like the feeling of knowing how it all ends, even if it's just about a chapter in the author's life.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Usually I don't read biographies or memoirs, or any kind of non-fiction really, unless I have a special interest in the person who wrote it or the topic. I'm glad I tried this out. Short story collections are usually not for me, I'm not a short story person. Spadafora has a unique way to write that needs some time to grow on you, but when it does, it sucks you in. Combined with the strong character voice (obviously - because it's his own, *ba dum tss*), it's very entertaining.

I wouldn't advise to read this all at once, because I noticed that you actually have to think about the stories for a while to understand what it's really about. That's what I love about "Anatomy Lesson", it feels like a part of the authors soul has gone into writing this. It's genuinely honest. I wish more of the non-fictional autobiographies I read were written in that way.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this a try, because it's a very honest approach to the trivial things in life. And yes, I want a sequel. I'd love a contemporary from the author. Even if it's not autobiographical, I think the voice is really intriguing and I think there is potential for more!

Additional Info

Original Title: Anatomy Lesson
Author: Matt Spadafora
Published: March 26th 2014
Pages: 136
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Life Rattle Press
Cover: Life Rattle Press, 2014
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 1927023696

"Anatomy Lesson is a collection of autobiographical non-fiction stories, each centred on a different part of the body. Stories range from humorous nights on the job to high school heartbreak, from physical injury to mental anguish, from embarrassing childhood mishaps to grappling with body image and bullying."
(Source: Goodreads)

 Can you recommend some good short story collections to me?

Continue Reading...
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