(The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is another collection. It’s got short stories and novellas. We’ve been through some of it already — this collection has both Ur and Blockade Billy in it, and we’ve already covered those in their standalone forms (Ur is revised here, but I don’t think it’s fundamentally different). I just now learned that the paperback version of this collection had a bonus story in it called “Cookie Jar.” I don’t think I recognize the title from anywhere else, and my ebook edition definitely does not have it. Neither does my audiobook edition. I looked for it, but Amazon only had the French edition — I definitely don’t read French well enough to try that. I couldn’t find it elsewhere online with a short search — apparently, it was originally published in a magazine called VQR (Virginia Quarterly Review), and I found a few articles about it with links to the story that VQR apparently made available publicly, but all the links I found just lead to pages that wouldn’t load. So I tried the main VQR site — or what Google claims is the site; anyway, it was the first link, and that wouldn’t load either. I looked it up to see if they were defunct and found a Wikipedia page that explained a whole mess with a temporary suspension after the managing editor’s suicide, but Wiki claims the magazine didn’t miss an issue during the suspension and continued on after being reinstated, and then with new management in 2013. That was nearly 10 years ago, and all I know is that I can’t get their site to load now. So that’s the story of the mystery bonus The Bazaar of Bad Dreams story that I still haven’t read. Like I said, I just found this out — when I sit down to write these posts, I sometimes look the books up — so that was pretty much the result of about 8 minutes of research. I’m curious now, so if I find the story somewhere or scare up a copy of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams in paperback, I’ll include a post on it as a standalone story.
Probably the one I have noticed that I hear about the most in this collection is “Drunken Fireworks,” which is a really good story (not scary, though.) The one I think I liked best was “Bad Little Kid.” As per usual, the majority of these stories were published somewhere else — usually in a magazine, but sometimes as an e-book, like Ur or Mile 81. A few of these were totally new, though. “Bad Little Kid” had apparently never been published in English before this collection — meaning it had apparently been published somewhere in another language previously. This is one of those times when I really wish I was fluent in languages besides English. I’d be very curious to experience these in other languages and see what that’s like. I sometimes see King fans post pictures of foreign-language editions of full books that they find, but I feel like, for a native English speaker, short stories might be a good way to get the reading experience without trying to tackle 800 pages or so. Unfortunately, the little bit of French I remember from high school, plus some refreshing with Duolingo, doesn’t leave me feeling confident enough to try French translations, and I can’t claim any kind of ability in any other languages.
“Mister Yummy” was entirely unpublished previous to this book, as was “Obits.” If you liked Dinky Earnshaw’s story from Everything’s Eventual, “Obits” will make you think of that one. I think “Everything’s Eventual” is probably the better story, but I still enjoyed “Obits” a lot. The idea of having some kind of power tied to writing certain things down appeals to me. Not that I want to kill people with premature obituaries or anything. Well, I mostly don’t. But I do my best thinking in writing, I can usually work out what I mean and think about an issue by writing about it, and I’m a much more effective communicator. Verbally, I’m liable to stutter out of nerves or forget what I’m supposed to say, even if I give myself a script. And I always sound timid. But I can write a forceful email if I need to. So the idea of writing that’s even more powerful than I already find writing to be appeals to me. I really don’t want to be able to kill people, though. I want to write about having money in the bank and then check my balance and see the money. Or, if I’m being more selfless, I want to write about what world peace and prosperity would look like and wake up to see it. Or write someone suffering from cancer to healthy and watch their tumors shrink. You get the idea.
One of the things I always like best about King’s collections is his own notes on the stories, and this collection is no exception. Also, fun — if you listen to the audiobook, he’s the one reading those notes. I would recommend reading this collection (any collection) just for that. I don’t think this is his strongest collection, but it’s solid and totally worth reading.