Favorite stories in here?

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Caleb_L

Member
Sep 12, 2015
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Georgia
I've read in order and I just got to "UR" yesterday night. I'll read it later today.

My ratings for the first 9 i've read are as follows.
9) The Bone Church (not a big fan of non-rhyming poetry)
8) Premium Harmony- this one was good but not one of my favorites.
7) Morality- I liked this one, but it was just kind of odd.
6) Afterlife- This is where it gets hard to rate them because I really enjoyed all of these following seven. This one was great but I guess it didn't have a huge twist like many of the six below it, still loved it.
5) A Death- this one was really cool. I really enjoyed the western setting for it, it was very refreshing. Left you thinking at the end.
4) Batman and Robin have an altercation- After reading his intro it left me wondering what would happen in it. Gets pretty intense but is rather touching.
3) Mile 81- now this is where it gets intense. This was the perfect story to open up the collection. It opens with a bang!
2) The Dune- super intense and surprising.
1) Bad Little Kid- super creepy and eerie. Very mysterious, great work. This one may stay as my favorite when I finish the last 11. I want King to make this into a full 1,200 page novel.
 

DaveJessop

Well-Known Member
Jan 26, 2012
88
29
Herts, UK
Reading them in order and almost finished Blockade Billy (606 pages in 4 nights which is pretty amazing for me) - so far Bad Little Kid has been my favourite and hoping Steve can bring that bad boy back in a full length story - definitely get a Pennywise vibe from him

Also liked the characters of the two old poets in Herman Wouk Is Still Alive
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
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It's hard to pick, but I keep coming back to Afterlife. They're all great though.
This one haunted me for a couple of reason. First, it's a great story and I think this business of "what happens next" is troubling even to those who profess "faith" that they know what happens next. I would imagine we've all experienced Deja Vu to a certain extent; this business not of premonition, but recognition. I certainly have, and will admit to having toyed with the premise of this story myself on more than one occasion.

I've always thought it might make a pretty good "Deal With the Devil" tale to present the promise of another go-'round -- a chance to "do it right" -- replete with requisite devilish half-truths,

only to discover that said second chance is nothing more than what Andrews gets here: His old life in syndication. In my version, not only would you have to live your life all over again, but you would also know everything that was going to happen and be powerless to change it.
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,946
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dublin ireland
This one haunted me for a couple of reason. First, it's a great story and I think this business of "what happens next" is troubling even to those who profess "faith" that they know what happens next. I would imagine we've all experienced Deja Vu to a certain extent; this business not of premonition, but recognition. I certainly have, and will admit to having toyed with the premise of this story myself on more than one occasion.

I've always thought it might make a pretty good "Deal With the Devil" tale to present the promise of another go-'round -- a chance to "do it right" -- replete with requisite devilish half-truths,

only to discover that said second chance is nothing more than what Andrews gets here: His old life in syndication. In my version, not only would you have to live your life all over again, but you would also know everything that was going to happen and be powerless to change it.
That would be my version of hell.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
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Hard to pick. Herman Wouk is Still Alive for the way it went.
I wish I could remember who said that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the universe. It was probably a poet. Likely an Irish one. But sometimes not knowing is better. I'm gonna say that again: Sometimes not knowing is better.

I see this story as a wonderful counterpoint to Ur,
without the convenient magic.
We've got a similar thing happening: Selfish people creating ripples, but hardly to the same end. I couldn't say if the placement of these stories next to each other in the collection is meant to help convey this relationship (if there is one), but it does. It does to me, at any rate. And that's what I want to talk about as regards Herman Wouk is Still Alive.

Me. And you. All of us.

Without going into detail that would interest no one but me, I can tell you that if I had read this story even two weeks ago, I am almost certain I would have interpreted it quite differently. But I didn't read it two weeks ago. Just so, perhaps, if I were to instead read it two weeks from now. But I read it tonight. And like that guy whose passing through that yellow wood had worn the roads about the same, that made all the difference. There's not much hope in this story, and right now -- at this particular point in my journey -- that strikes me as perfectly fine. I might read this story again in a year ... or two ... or nine, and decide it's about something else entirely. Or I might not. The point is that we're all in the stories. The act of observing informs what we observe. Is that Schroedinger? I think it is. Someone will correct me if it isn't. Or they won't. Writing isn't physics anyway (and good thing), but there is such a thing as interpretation. And interpretation is flexible to a degree.

It would be difficult for me to imagine making the choice that is made in this story, but that is not the same thing as saying I don't understand it. The undiagnosed hopelessness of the (comparatively) young single moms here is palpable. They seem to see their final act -- however misguided -- as a means of eliminating exponents of future hopelessness (or so it seems to me). The poets -- those pesky legislators -- have their lives mostly behind them, and yet still find small joys where and when they can (and indeed, seem to be very cognizant of -- and comfortable with -- their own comparative uselessness in the world). I was very struck by the way Phil and Pauline admired the pithy quote about how the words never weaken, and then go on to agree that Wouk -- in prose -- is not really to either of their taste. That is darkly funny. At least it is tonight.

Couple that with the image of the newspaper -- the words -- "flipping lazily through the grass on the breath of a light breeze" at the end. It's powerful imagery and Pauline begins to question the words, themselves. The words are how she has spent her life; can they be blown away so easily? Surely that cannot be. So she rationalizes: Herman Wouk is still alive. But still, she questions: So that's alright, isn't it?

Or is it? It's an interesting question for a writer -- even an obscenely successful writer -- to ask.

The question Pauline asks -- and Phil's posture -- at the end suggests that the answer is beyond obvious.

But sometimes not knowing is better.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
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Batman and Robin Have An Altercation is my favorite.
I guess the idea of father as hero is a pretty simple one, although there's a lot more going on here. But what to make of our heroes succumbing to that all-time undefeated champion, Father Time? Visiting my own father recently after an illness which nearly took him -- doctors ... what do they know? -- I was struck less by how quickly and mercilessly we can be ravaged (in a physical sense) once our bodies reach a certain point, as by this notion of functioning intellect being lost inside decaying machinery.
My father understood mechanical things. I do, too, but I never had them patience with them my father did, because you can't cajole mechanical things (although we try sometimes, don't we?). You can't get your lawn mower to start by being nice to it; or bitching at it. I prefer to deal with people, because people can often be led -- all unknowing -- to wherever it is you want (or need) them to go. Especially if where you need them to go is away. But I digress.

It's a sobering thing to face your own mortality in the demise of your parents. But consider the alternative. My own parents had to face the despicable chore of putting two of their children to rest, and that -- to my way of thinking -- is way up high on the list of bad things in a world which seems to delight in continually providing new and better bad things. So does it bother me to sit with my dad at length while he refers to me by the name of another son, gone these 30 years (more or less)? Yes. Yes it does. Am I troubled when he asks after children I don't have? I certainly am.

But being bothered and troubled is not the same thing as being scared. And what scares me most about this thing that awaits those of us unlucky enough to waste away in a bed somewhere is not the lapses into what is no longer called senility. It's the lucid moments which tell me that he's still in there, looking out from the prison of that decaying machinery that frighten me. Physically, we are clearly father and son, although I favor his father more. Intellectually, we are miles apart. My father always had little understanding and less use for the kind of superfluous nonsense around which I have fashioned my life. Like I said, he was (is ... he is) of a mechanical bent, and always preferred dealing with things he could hit with a hammer when they needed it. This always put a certain distance between us that manifests itself now in me being unable to imagine what he is feeling in the sunset of his life, because he never learned how -- or was taught that is was not "manly" -- too express such things out loud.

When we were both younger, it fascinated my father that I could actually make a living simply writing down what other people say. Now I think of it, it kind of fascinates me, too.

Here's a quick aside: The first time I ever got a byline I thought it was pretty cool. But the excitement of seeing your own name in print wears off rather quickly once you realize that the only time people care who wrote the story is when they want to send a nasty letter to the editor about what an incompetent jerk the writer is. Of course, we've got internet "comment" sections now, and that process has become so simple that no one with any sense wastes any time looking at or thinking about it.

But about that byline: My middle name is my father's name. So once I got over the arrested adolescent excitement of actually seeing my own name on a masthead, it amused me to give the same benefit to my father, who was justifiably proud -- in his own mind -- that I had grown up to be something that wasn't a truck driver (which was all he ever said he hoped of me). So, instead of being Michael _____ , I became M. Lawrence ________ . And boy, did he ever get a kick out of that.

As usually happens when I start rambling about how these stories affect, I've completely forgotten what I came in here to say.

Unless it's that effective story-telling, as we see in Batman and Robin Have an Altercation, helps us to at least consider those things that trouble us because we don't understand them; and indeed, perhaps were never designed to understand.

Or maybe I just wanted to talk about my father a little bit.

I'm gonna go call him.