New York Times article on the new Stephen King book, Full Dark No Stars, by Terrence Rafferty.

“From the start — even before a young man I can now hardly comprehend started writing ‘The Long Walk’ in his college dormitory room — I felt that the best fiction was both propulsive and assaultive,” Stephen King writes in a chatty afterword to “Full Dark, No Stars,” his new collection of longish stories. “It gets in your face.” As if we didn’t know.

Illustration by Otto Dettmer


By Stephen King

368 pp. Scribner. $27.99

“Full Dark, No Stars” contains, as King’s earlier “Different Seasons” and “Four Past Midnight” did, a quartet of previously unpublished tales that more than satisfy their prolific author’s stated criteria for good fiction. Propulsive? Check. Assaultive? Don’t ask. The stories in “Full Dark, No Stars,” whose lengths range from 30-some pages to well over 100, are for the most part only lightly supernatural and deal, instead, with the unlovelier aspects of merely human behavior. Serial rape and murder figure prominently in two of these stories; in another, a man kills his wife and forces his teenage son to help him; and in the only fully fantastic tale here, a man purchases — from the Devil, of course — health and happiness at the too-affordable price of the ruin of his best friend’s family. It’s grim stuff, but that’s what readers expect of Stephen King. After all, he’s been in our faces for 40 years.

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Brian M