Ah, there you are! And here Sunday is again…
Another week gone, another 7 days of our lives that we’ll never get back. 1 more week closer to the next birthday, 168 hours nearer to Christmas, the sands of times slipping waaaay too fast through the hour glass… sorry, got carried away there.
Forget all that. Banning the Bullshit is back! Yay!
Look, I’m gonna apologise in advance for this week’s book, okay?
Not because it’s rubbish, far from it, no, I just want to say sorry for repeatedly spouting off about this guy and his stories. I can’t help it.
He is a writer God. He is a talisman of scribes and whether my fellow ink-slingers love him or loathe him, you can bet that last fluff-covered dollar/pound/euro or yen, that they have read at least one, if not ten, of his books.
Why? Because he is a master of his craft. IMHO, one of the most rounded of story tellers of my generation. I swear he wears his writing pants on the outside of his trousers.
But enough of the Stephen King love-fest, let’s have a look at the book.
Right, before we start, let’s get one thing clear. I am not a fan of short stories/novellas. Even more so now that I know how hard it is to write one!
I have always struggled with them, the concept of them. My head is always so jam-packed full of characters and story lines that race off in a million different directions, plots that have a spaghetti on speed-like mind of their own, that I really have a hard time fitting everything that the muse tells me it wants to be told into something that short. But, I realise that they have their place. Especially nowadays. They are perfect to read on your phone whilst on the tube or waiting at a bus stop. Great for when you don’t have the time or the heart to dive headlong into a War and Peace type epic tale. They definitely need to be written, but they are an art unto themselves, that’s for sure.
There’s probably good reason that a lot of shorts go on to be full-length novels or even films.
I have forgotten more stories than I have had hot dinners. Fact.
I have finished one book/story and picked up another, not even giving up a tiny molecule of memory space to the one before. Banished forever into the annals of The Saffi Chronicles, never to be retrieved again: Erased.
And that’s a shame. That means that the writer didn’t do their job. Didn’t capture my imagination and I felt nothing for the characters. Hashtag Epicfail.
There is one (well, there’s a few, but this one is up there at the top of the charts) story that buried itself deep in my gut like an amnesic tapeworm, immune to modern medicine, and stayed there.
John Shooter strutted on to my mind’s porch, dropped his scribblings into the trash can that is my soul and sank his butt down on the swing.
He’s been sat there ever since.
Whistling and drinking beer and tipping me the odd wink as I leave the dark depths of my imagination and visit the real world for a while. He smiles at me knowingly, touches the brim of his hat and goes back to rocking the swing with a gentle, spur-clad foot. Back and forth, back and forth. All the time in the world, ‘cos he ain’t ever leaving.
‘Secret Window, Secret Garden‘ is one of four novellas in Four past midnight – one of the greatest collection of shorts to exist.
Sure, The Langoliers is wonderful too and The Library policeman is beautifully mind-bending and will leave you glad to have a Kindle, but this story followed me around for days afterwards like the new kid you smile at on their first day at school, and to this day, we are still bosom buddies.
It went on to be given the Johnny Depp/Hollywood treatment with pallid results. It should never have been made into a film. Never. The whole beauty of the story is that it is a story. It is meant to exist in your mind and exist in my mind it does.
I no longer see Shooter anymore. I accept him.
The whiny protest of the porch swing chains are part of the melodic soundtrack of my day. The sideways lilt of his half-smile as emblazoned on my memory as the DNA is patented to my genes.
Another fait accompli for Monsieur King. Bravo. (oh, and thanks a lot: like I haven’t got enough characters sharing my head space.)
If you buy one collection of short stories, make it this one.
Well, that is, if you don’t mind a new friend in Shooter – watching over you.