I have been reviewing a lot of books by Stephen King recently. Even though I have followed his career for the last 24 years, I am constantly astonished at just how much he has written. And to my knowledge, I have read the complete Stephen King Bibliography. In the spirit of Halloween and list-love, I decided to write a up a complete list of his books, along with a couple of brief impressions and memories of each. I’m also going to try to come up with as many off the top of my head as I can, not looking them up until I have to.
A woman walking through the woods behind her house trips over something sticking out of the ground a couple of inches. It is the tip of a spaceship. As she begins excavating the craft, things in the nearby town start to get strange. The movie version was horrible!
Under The Dome
Life as usual in a small town is interrupted as an impenetrable glass dome gets dropped over it. As rescue attempts fail the town’s residents realize they might be in there forever. Who put the dome there? Why? And what are they going to do about the people going crazy on the inside of the dome as their supplies dwindle?
Another pesky Indian burial ground disturbs the life of a doctor and his family. The Pet cemetery behind their house has a peculiar property–anything that is buried there comes back to life, but is…different when it comes back.
Killer car that drives itself. It is restored lovingly by a nerd named Arnie, and slowly begins to take over his life. Culminates in a pretty funny battle between Christine and an industrial vehicle piloted by Arnie’s best friend while they’re all locked in a garage.
A famous author is rescued by a nurse after a car crash in the snow. This is not good news, even though she is his biggest fan. It soon becomes apparent that she’s not going to let him leave anytime soon. And she knows how to use an axe.
Part 1 of The Dark Tower Series. Introduces Roland as he chases the man in black across the desert. Roland is obsessed with finding this tower, to the tune of 7 big volumes of chasing it. Great book. Also: the man in black is not Johnny Cash. Part fantasy, part horror.
The Drawing of The Three
Part 2 of the Dark Tower. Roland picks up some traveling companions via a drawing of three magic cards in a series of scenes way too complicated to recreate here in a couple of sentences. Okay, I’m just to list the rest of TDT series by title. Thy all involve him moving closer to the tower, that’s the important thing:
- The Wastelands
- Wizard and Glass
- Wolves Of The Calla
- Song of Suzannah
- The Dark Tower
A man is having trouble sleeping. Also, there are bald headed doctors running around with little scissors, snipping the balloons that float above everyone’s heads. Huh? I know, I know. I didn’t love Insomnia, but for completists you’ve got to read it. There is a nod to characters that eventually appear in the Dark Tower volumes.
A Saint Bernard gets rabies after being bitten by a bat. He starts doing what rabid dogs do: biting people. This is a big dog. Scary finale with a mother and son being trapped in a car by the dog with nobody else around.
Four Past Midnight
Four novellas, in order of awesomeness: The Library Policeman, The Langoliers, Four Past Midnight, The Sun Dog. Bring your books back on time or else!
Four more novellas. Includes Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method. The first three resulted in movies, the fourth is just so-so.
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
A short story collection. My favorite is the story The Moving Finger, in which a finger just appears in the drain of a man’s sink. Its tapping starts driving him crazy, as does the fact that the finger withdraws every time his wife comes in. Time for Drano.
More Stephen King short stories. Contains The Mist (AWESOME!), The Raft, The Jaunt, and Word Processor of The Gods. Those are the best, but they’re all pretty great.
All right, looks like the free associating is going to take my through all the Stephen King short fiction. This book opens with my favorite story–a couple is at a fancy restaurant when their odd waiter goes nuts. A frantic story and possibly my favorite dust jacket cover of any of King’s books. A great collection.
More short stories. My favorite The Ledge, in which a guy has to walk around a penthouse building on a ledge that’s about three inches wide while pigeons peck his ankles. The title story is about some really big rats, and Children of The Corn is about a weird town where a religious cult of children has been going about their worship in a rather unsavory manner. The movie wasn’t bad either!
Just After Sunset
More short stories. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be locked inside of a port a potty and have to escape through the bottom, here’s your chance. A good collection, but I did not enjoy it as much as his earlier short stories.
At one terrible moment, everyone in the world talking on their cell phone becomes a crazed zombie and attacks anyone they can find. The tech luddites are left to trek across the country trying to survive and find a solution. It’s enough to make me want to get rid of my Android phone. Almost.
Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, is not a good place to be in this book. A crazy (I’ve been using that word a lot) sheriff named Collie Entragian is arresting citizens for no good reason and taking them to Desperation, a deserted mining town. He is also falling apart, literally. There’s something inside the sheriff, and it’s going to cause big problems for the people once they get out of the jail cell he locked them inside.
The Dark Half
Another Stephen King story featuring a tormented writer. The main character, Thad, writes novels that are a bit twisted and scary. Now somebody is out there killing people in a manner very similar to Thad’s books.
Okay, now the free association has me on writers, which leads me to The Shining. A man agrees to act as caretaker of an empty ski lodge during the off season, along with his wife and young (and psychic) son. The loneliness begins to get to him, as do the spirits of the place, which has seen some truly disturbing events. Made into a great movie by Stanley Kubrick, although King was not completely sold on the adaptation.
The companion book to Desperation, written under King’s pseudonym Richard Bachman (check out all of the bachman books, not just this one) and released at the same time. An autistic boy with very strong mental powers plunges his neighbors and town into a nightmarish battle as he brings characters from tv and other pop culture nuisances into reality to do battle with everyone. It’s a kid’s game, but very real to everyone outside his house who is fighting for their lives.
A girl oppressed by her religious mother and bullying classmates discovers she is telekinetic. She can do pretty much whatever she wants, but she doesn’t really decide to teach everyone a lesson until she is humiliated at The Big Dance. Sissy Spacek did a great job in the movie. Bullying doesn’t pay.
Stephen King loves military experiments as an explanation for weird things happening. In this case it’s a young girl who can start fires with her mind. There are, of course, people trying to find her for their own purposes, but she’s not going to let them take her easily.
The Dead Zone
A man awakens from a coma after his traffic accident to find he has psychic powers. Even though he is able to help the police search for serial killers and may just be the one to stop a crazy politician from blowing up the world, he still wishes he’d never gone into that stupid coma.
The Green Mile
The title refers to the corridor where death row inmates walk to the electric chair. This is a story about the guards who run the mile, and of one gigantic prisoner named John Coffey, who possessed the gift of healing. Also, he has been convicted of a heinous crime he probably didn’t commit. What’s a scrupulous prison warden to do?
One of King’s greatest creations, “It” refers to a monster terrorizing the children of a small town. It usually manifests as the unforgettable Pennywise The Clown. After escaping a couple of decades earlier, the one member of the group of friends who defeated It calls the survivors with bad news–It has come back and they have to fight it one more time. Awesome, awesome book.
Boooooo! Started out great, with four friends in the woods on a camping trip. Ends horribly. Think aliens. This is one I can’t make myself go into.
Classic, straightforward Vampire story. And not sexy vampires like Twilight or all the other nonsense that’s currently afflicting the world. Also, father Callahan the priest eventually plays a major role in The Dark Tower series, many, many years later.
To save his mother, who is dying of a terminal illness, a boy named Jack must journey through two worlds: ours and a horrible mirror image of it. One of the first King books I read. Truly scary, and a collaboration with Peter Straub. They would write a sequel years later: Black House. Not as good, but still good.
Cycle of The Werewolf
There’s a werewolf in good old Tarker Mills! It’s killing people one by one! What are we going to do????? Read to find out. Good, not great.
My favorite Stephen King novel. A plague wipes out America’s population. The remaining survivors are either Bad or Good. The Bad ones migrate to Las Vegas, where they are ruled by a crazy devilman named Randall Flagg (also appear in The Dark Tower). The Good ones go to Boulder and are guided by a little black lady named Mother Abigail. Great characters, huge story, King at his absolute best. Read the Uncut edition!
An abused woman flees from her monster of a husband. Unfortunately, he’s a skilled law enforcement agent and won’t have too much trouble finding her. But, she does have a new painting on her wall, and it keeps changing. It…as if there’s another world on other side of it! Cue frightening music. Liked it, but didn’t love it.
During an adult game in a cabin, a pushy husband accidentally breaks his neck falling off a bed. Unfortunately, his wife is still handcuffed to the bedposts. There’s nobody around to help her. A weird book, largely full of her hallucinations. She’s on the bed for about 95% of the book. Didn’t really like this one. Not because of the subject, but it just didn’t do it for me.
Bag of Bones
A great ghost story, featuring another writer, grieving for his wife this time. He retires to his vacation home, only to find that there is a ghostly presence there. Also, the local town is being controlled by a rich loser. Mike Noonan may have to sort it all out.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Another weird one that I don’t have much of an opinion on. A nine year old girl gets separated from her family on a hike. The sun goes down. Her solace is the radio she carries, which she listens to baseball games on. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Stephen King horror story if there wasn’t also someone out there in the woods with her, doing bad things to animals and getting ever closer.
From a Buick 8
The Colorado Kid
King’s stab at hard-boiled mystery. I like the cover, I like the idea, and I love it that King writes whatever makes him happy. I’m glad he had fun with this one, but I did not get into it. It’s about people trying to solve a murder, and the more they look into it, the stranger it gets! Sound familiar? If you’ve ever read a mystery story, then yes.
This book also features a writer, but at least he’s dead this time. Lisey’s Story is about the widow he left behind. This is a book about creativity, where ideas come from, and why writers write. It’s also about love. It’s also full of weird Stephen King stuff, since Lisey has to explore an alternate dimension full of creepy craziness while she comes to terms with her loss. Awesome book.
Edgar Freemantle has problems. He was in a horrible accident, and post-crash, he’s doing weird things. He lost his arm, but that doesn’t stop him from involuntarily (?) stabbing his wife with a plastic knife. After she divorces him, he heads down to Duma Key in Florida to relax. He takes up painting. His paintings take on a life of their own, if you can imagine that. A wonderful story, even though we’re revisiting a lot of familiar territory here.
Full Dark, No Stars
Four novellas, very dark stuff. In many ways a return to form–well, at least the form I love King for. My favorite in the batch was the first story, about a man who offs his wife, with…unusual results.
Good grief, that’s all I can handle now. I’ll be back to add the few remaining books to my fancy-shmancy Stephen King bibliographie.