By Elizabeth Nowak
Stephen King’s If It Bleeds was bumped up to release by two weeks, releasing April 21 instead of May 5. The early release is just what his “constant readers” need while being stuck in their homes. Some fans have joked around saying the world we are living is like the plot of one of Mr. King’s novels. No, our current situation is not like The Stand, although if someone starts dreaming about an old woman named Mother Abigail who tells them to go to Colorado, listen to her.
King at 72, has written and published over 60 novels as well as various collections of novellas. He has written numerous screenplays, and even directed a film and he does not seem to be stopping any time soon. The king of horror is back at it with another book, this time one filled with three novellas and one short story. The short story in question is the titular one that features a character that King introduced in his Mr. Mercedes trilogy. Mr. Mercedes follows the story of a retired detective who is taunted by a hacker he never caught. The character Holly Gibney who is introduced in this series reappears later in another novel The Outsider. Now Holly is back in a short story that follows her investigation of a strange reporter speaking about a school bombing.
The other novellas of the book are “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, “The Life of Chuck”, and “Rat.” The first one follows the story of Craig, a young kid who finds the phone of a dead friend and buries him with it. Everything is all fine and dandy until he starts receiving messages from beyond the grave. “The Life of Chuck” is a sweet telling of a man’s life in reverse and the mysterious, locked cupola in his grandparent’s house. Last but not least, “Rat” is another beautiful story of a writer descending into madness. All these stories wrapped up together gives readers a little taste of something different in a matter of pages.
In the time of social distancing, if you are having trouble figuring out what to do, give Stephen King a try. Maybe it’s best not to start with The Stand, King’s longest novel about a flu pandemic that wipes out almost all of the world’s population. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert asked King about The Stand to which King says he is constantly apologizing for it. The book was published originally in 1978 and then later published in 1990 as a complete and uncut version that added roughly 400 pages that was originally cut. Some mass market copies of the book today comes in at just over 1400 pages.
King has a way with keeping his fans called constant readers sucked into his stories and really, he is much more than a horror writer. He is able to tap into the true terror of life itself. The short story “The Body” that the film Stand by Me is adapted from is actually loosely based off of an experience King had as a kid with his own friends. The infamous Pet Sematary about a burial ground that raises the dead is actually something King spawned from his daughter’s cat getting hit by a truck just on the road from their house. Douglas E. Winter writes in an article with The Washington Post, “But as Pet Sematary makes clear, the horror story–at its most penetrating, important moments, those of the immaculate clarity of insight which we call art–is not about make-believe at all.” King imagines worlds in various “what-if” scenarios and then pens those ideas. With a multitude of books and shows and films, there is something for everyone.