Book Review: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Before I start, I’d like to reassure you that I won’t spoil a thing.

Ah, Stephen King. Everyone knows who he is, and I’ve heard from just as many folks who don’t like his work as those that do. Those that don’t like it have lots of good arguments:

    It rambles. It’s too wordy. It lacks good pacing. Who would be afraid of that anyway?!

Funny thing is, I think all of those are true! I also happen to love what Steve-o writes not simply in spite of those arguments, but because of them.

During a conversation with my brother last week, he shone a light on the fundamental quality I like about Steve’s work. Every story of his is a study of humanity! From the made-up language we came up with as children to the strange times when something ordinary seems downright creepy. All of the weird quirks people tend to keep to themselves are on those pages. It’s all about what makes us tick.

When he’s “on” (which is a lot of the time in his books) Steve shows what’s going on inside his characters’ heads like no other author I’ve read. It is so much more complex than giving a character a sense of motivation or sticking to a plot line. When he writes it’s as if he becomes those people in a way that is very real, and is doing everything he can to describe what it’s like to be them.

That’s as well as I can explain it. So… about the book…

Just After Sunset is a collection of thirteen short stories. Most are short enough to read in one sitting, which I thought was particularly nice. Several might even be considered vignettes. Unusual for Steve, isn’t it?

It has been forever since I’ve seen short stories by this guy, but he hasn’t gotten rusty at all! He has a knack for throwing me into the story with the first sentence, and I’m held in thrall until it is done. With just a couple of exceptions he succeeded in doing this with every story in the book. Even in the cases where he didn’t, I enjoyed myself. When the last story is done, you’re treated to a behind-the-scenes look at his motivation for writing each one of them.

If you’re a Stephen King fan you must get this. It gets a 9 out of 10 score from this fan.

If you’re not a Stephen King fan this book might still be worth a try if you’re into fiction. The stories are short, and extremely well done. I say get the paperback and give it a go. At the very least you probably know someone who would appreciate it if you gave it to them.

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