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Monthly Archives: November 2015

“The Bazaar of Bad Dreams,” by Stephen King

Stephen King’s new short story collection includes several previously-published stories, but also many all-new ones, and most of them are excellent.

When I first saw in reviews for this collection that many of the stories don’t have a supernatural element, I was a bit disappointed, because I’ve always loved King’s tales of things that go bump in the night. However, I found myself being drawn into some of these stories because of the strength of the characterization. Many of King’s novels (Salem’s Lot and Needful Things especially come to mind) are as much about the relationships between the human characters as they are about whatever monster happens to be terrorizing the region. When the monster is taken away, those character interactions can still provide a compelling story. I really enjoyed the stories “A Death,” “Morality,” and “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation” because they made me care about the characters.

That’s not to say that there isn’t excellent supernatural fiction in this book too, because there is. “Obits”, “Bad Little Kid”, and “The Little Green God of Agony” were all chilling, while “The Dune” successfully melded the wondrous and the ominous.

This collection also includes two poems. One is a ghost story about an elephant graveyard, and the other is a poignant tribute to a deceased friend. While I liked the poems that King published in his earlier collection Skeleton Crew, I felt that both of the ones in Bazaar would have flowed better if they’d been in a prose format.

As a general rule, I prefer King’s older novels to his newer ones, but the same isn’t true of his short stories. His short story collections remain consistently excellent, and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams can easily stand alongside Skeleton Crew and Night Shift.

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“Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights” by Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie’s new novel, Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights is in some ways a superhero story. The major characters, all of whom are descended from the same princess of the jinn, must aid that princess in fighting against some of her brethren who are trying to conquer the Earth. Because of their otherworldly heritage, they have a variety of supernatural powers—levitation, shapeshifting, and so on—that wouldn’t be out of place in the Marvel or DC universes.

This book is a quick read, and the plot could easily be described as “rollicking” or “action-packed.” But there are deep philosophical undertones here as well. The jinn are inherently chaotic beings, and when the barriers between their world and ours are breached, the structure both of individual lives and of society as a whole is disrupted. The conflict between jinn and humans, and between the two major jinn factions, is one of order vs. chaos. For the part-jinn main characters, the struggle is an internal one as well. And for all the action of the main plot, the story ends on a contemplative note that will stay in your mind long after you put the book down.

“Act of Contrition” by Nina Shepardson published in Allegory

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My short story, “Act of Contrition”, has been published in Allegory!  I’m very happy with how this story turned out and excited to see it published.  You can read it online here, or download it as a PDF by clicking on the “Download as PDF” link here.