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In the introduction toSkeleton Crew (1985), his second collection of stories, King pokes fun at his penchant for "literary elephantiasis," makes scatological jokes about his muse, confesses how much money he makes (gross and net), and tells a story about getting arrested one time when he was "suffused with the sort of towering, righteous rage that only drunk undergraduates can feel." He winds up with an invitation to a scary voyage: "Grab onto my arm now. Hold tight. We are going into a number of dark places, but I think I know the way."
And he sure does.Skeleton Crew contains a superb short novel ("The Mist") that alone is worth the price of admission, plus two forgettable poems and 20 short stories on such themes as an evil toy monkey, a human-eating water slick, a machine that avenges murder, and unnatural creatures that inhabit the thick woods near Castle Rock, Maine. The short tales range from simply enjoyable to surprisingly good.
In addition to "The Mist," the real standout is "The Reach," a beautifully subtle story about a great-grandmother who was born on a small island off the coast of Maine and has lived there her whole life. She has never been across "the Reach," the body of water between island and mainland. This is the story that King fans give to their friends who don't read horror in order to show them how literate, how charming a storyteller he can be. Don't miss it.--Fiona Webster
Some real gems here This is the second collection of short stories by Stephen King, and if it had been published later in his career, it's possible that the best entry, "The Mist," would have been published on its own as a short novel (it clocks in at around 130 pages).
A collection of short stories is always hit or miss, and that's a fact that carries it's own special brand of charm. We not only get to read the Grade A masterpieces that King is known for, but we also get to see some of his quirky ideas, done for fun. Stories that stand out to me include:
"The Mist," which is a terrific creepy story in which a mist hiding all sorts of weird Lovecraftian monsters rolls into town, forcing a group of strangers to band together in a grocery store for mutual protection. I love stories where a group of unaffiliated people are brought together to hold off a seemingly insurmountable threat, and King gives the idea royal treatment here (better than in, say the Langoliers).
"The Raft," which was adapted for a Creepshow short, is about a group of teens who find themselves stranded on a raft in a lake after a death-dealing film of pond scum surrounds them. The characters are very realistic, and King scores major points by taking a familiar situation and turning it into a chilling nightmare.
"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" is an odd little story that has the gentlemanly tone of a classic horror story from Poe's age, featuring a man who refuses to shake hands because he fears the consequences of those who come into contact with him.
"Survivor Type" is another great story filled with awesomely creepy imagery (it's stuck with me for over a decade now); it's about a doctor who finds himself stranded on a desert island with little hope of rescue or prolonged survival.
"Nona" is a long story that is probably one of the weaker pieces, using the familiar device of an alluring dangerous not-quite-human female, who seeks to seduce the hero as part of a larger scheme.
"The Monkey" is, simply put, pretty bad. Maybe it was fresh when it was first conceived (or maybe it wasn't), but the idea of a cursed children's toy is so played out that the self-referential Chucky movies now seem stale. King doesn't bring enough to this plot to make it interesting.
King also sneaks in a couple of horror-themed poems in "For Owen" and "Paranoid: A Chant." To me, they weren't very interesting, and I doubt that a serious student of poetry would give them much acclaim either (but then again, what do I know?).
Again, it's difficult to rate an array of stories as a group, but I would have to say that the three best pieces mentioned above are worth the price of the book on their own.King as his mesmerizing best! Stephen King has written some powerful, scary, touching novels. But his best fiction remains, arguably, his short fiction. His love for the short story is obvious--he has thrown together several collections, each one about as thick as one of his novels.
The stories in "Skeleton Crew" are horrifying and touching. There's "The Mist," a tale of a strange fog that beseiges a small town...and the deadly creatures it shrouds. In "The Wedding Gig," a jazz band plays for the Mafia...and makes some unusual acquaintances. "Survivor Type" details how far a man is willing to go in order to survive, while the poem "Paranoia: A Chant" is both amusing and disturbing. "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" dives into a writer's psyche, and ponders just where all those stories come from. The power of God is imprisoned in a typewriter in "Word Processor of the Gods" and a toy monkey in "The Monkey." "The Jaunt" is a horrifying tale of science fiction, while a woman finds the ultimate shortcut--through Hell--in "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut."
Some of the stories in here are fun and entertaining, such as "The Mist" and "The Wedding Gig." Others, such as "Cain Rose Up" and "Gramma", are downright disturbing. Stephen King shows his skills here, in "Skeleton Crew"--a collection of stories spanning decades, all from the same master of modern fiction.A classic King collection Skeleton Crew is Stephen King's first collection of short stories, and it contains many haunting, gripping tales. However, those who are familiar with King's short story style will already know that while some of his stories are amazing, some will leave you wondering "huh?" For King fans, however, this book is a must-read.
As in King's other collections, the best stories here are the longer, almost novella-type works. Tales such as "The Mist" and "The Jaunt" combine the horror and sci-fi traditions to perfection. Other excellent eerie stories are more in the psychological suspense genre, including "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" and "Survivor Type." Finally, this collection includes some true horror tales which will bring a chill to your spine, particularly "The Raft" and "The Monkey."
Although some of these stories come off a bit dated for today (e.g., "Word Processor of the Gods"), this is still a classic collection which should not be missed. Highly recommended for King fans and others with a taste for the macabre.