Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fiction, horror, short story
Source: The Library!
What you’ll love: The personal way Stephen King tells you a story.
What will bug you: I’ll admit it - I didn’t care for Amy all that much.
Mort is a writer. He’s in the middle of a divorce with his wife, Amy - and this has displaced him from their home in Derry, Maine, to their cabin in Tashmore, Maine. Mort is awakened from his afternoon nap by a man named John Shooter standing on his front porch holding a manuscript. “You stole my story. You stole my story and something’s got to be done about it. Right is right and fair is fair and something has to be done.” What follows is a terrifying glimpse into Mort’s next three days - trying to prove that he has stolen nothing from Shooter.
I think that many people hear “Stephen King” and picture gory horror novels. This is simply not the case. Well - yes. They can have their gory moments. However, this is not really what makes them scary. There’s a psychological component to King’s stories that makes your hair stand on end. His characters are a little too real. When I was a child I wasn’t afraid of a monster under my bed. I was afraid of a psychopath hiding outside my window. Because crazy people are real, kids - and we see them every day.
My favorite part about reading Stephen King is the personal way he tells his story to you. My usual complaint about short stories is that I don’t always feel I’ve had enough time to become intimate with the characters. Stephen King completely solves this for you. There are so many moments when you feel as though you are privy to the character’s inner thoughts. King is in the middle of laying out a scene, when all of a sudden
the paragraph breaks and we hear what the character is thinking
and then he continues as though nothing has happened. I love this! You are with that character in that moment and you are familiar with everything they are feeling and thinking. You are completely immersed.
Stephen King also has a way of making you feel very familiar with the character. I’ll give you an example. If I’m talking about my Mother to a co-worker I would say “My Mother thinks these jeans look too long.” If I’m talking to a close friend I may say “Mom thinks these jeans look too long.” It’s more personal because I am on that comfortable level with my friend. King does this when he talks about Mort’s cat, Bump. (I’d also like to tell you that I love “Bump” as a cat name and plan to use it someday in the future.) He draws you - the reader - in on that personal level. It’s not “She may meet the same fate as Mort’s cat, Bump.” It’s “She’ll meet the same fate as Bump.” It’s a small detail, but it makes a difference.
The only part of the story I didn’t enjoy was Amy. I thought she was selfish. It certainly didn’t ruin the story for me - but I did find her irritating.
The psychological component of this book is what makes it creepy. There’s nothing supernatural going on. From the moment you meet John Shooter, you are convinced this man is... 1 - insane. 2 - angry. 3 - dangerous. There was never a moment when I felt Shooter could be brushed off. And even scarier, there was never a moment when I thought he could be convinced Mort did not steal his story.
Such a great read - quick, fabulous, and perfect for the season!
Thanks, Kate! I've had this short story collection on my shelves for some time (25¢ for hardcover at a yard sale!), but I have yet to read this story. I have heard good things about it, though, and your review confirms them, so one of these days...
Thanks for being a guest on Book Rat!
Happy Helluva Halloween, everyone!