Monday, September 6, 2010

Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King

Nightmares and Dreamscapes was my first Stephen King book.

Nightmares & Dreamscapes Nightmares & Dreamscapes (Hardcover)
(I unfortunately didn't get to pick any of these two covers...mine was plain and green and had a toad on it - unfortunately I only realized it was a tone after reading one of the scariest stories in this book)

Yes, this (along with the term-end examination) has been what has taken me so long. (In the interval, actually, today, I've also read Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch, which is a fun if childish book - I don't know if I'll be reviewing that one, but anyway, I digress) It took me a while to even pick a Stephen King book. I mean I would go to the bookstore, meaning to buy one of the huge books in the Stephen King section (yes, he has his own section) and would always be so overwhelmed by the choices that I would promise myself that I would research a little bit more and come back. Anyway, last time I just decided to take the plunge and buy myself a book, any book (and since I have recently come to like short stories I decided to pick this book) by the "King of Horror and Fantasy".

I had a wonderful time.

I mean, I won't say all the stories were equally appealing. There was story called Fifth Quarter about a map in four pieces and a guy who wanted revenge that I just skimmed through, and there are two stories in the end about baseball that I am finding hard to even start. But its the other stories: the two stories about a mysterious vampire (and one which features his remarkably cool grandson!), the two stories about what the author calls "those mysterious little towns" (one of which is about the toad mentioned above), the Sherlock Holmes story where Watson gets to solve a case (I loved this - Watson is one of my favourite characters ever), Umney's Last Case (which was about the relationship between a writer and a character and just so bloody cool), a story called 'Suffer the Little Children' which actually made shivers run down my spine and so many others in this wonderful collection (if I sit and name all of them, it won't be much of a review, so I'll break off now...)

What I love about Stephen King is his characters. His characters are all very distinct and they tell their stories their way, and they think in complicated ways (and sometimes speak in complicated ways, too) but the reader is not pampered...and by throwing you into the minds of these people (half of which, in this book, are remarkably disturbing minds) makes you sympathize with even the horrible guy who kidnaps children to sell them or the guy who plans to bury a few people alive in a cadillac under the desert (this is the first story in the book and sets the tone - its a highly, highly creepy story about a highly odd man, except that he's avenging his dead wife and you can't argue with a motivation like that). King's characters are all very human (even the non-human ones) and you just get immersed into their lives - and what interesting lives they are, too.

This book has been described as 'horror' (and often with a disdainful tone at that). I don't know if I would call it that. I mean, some stories are definitely scary (once, while reading, I woke up at 2:00 am in the night thinking about the vampire story and almost freaked out) and most border on the supernatural and all of them are slightly off-center (I don't know how to put this better - but they're different, though according to me in a good way) but they're not your typical horror books (there are no buckets of blood and floating eyeballs as far as I remember) and I think they would be enjoyed by readers who like all types of books.

Final thoughts: Most of the stories (I think this depends on your personal taste) in this book are absolutely brilliant. They're deep, layered, fascinating - the character's are so real and the plots to original that I can't help but recommend this collection to any lover of fantasy and/or horror. (And any open-minded lover of books).

Other thoughts: I forgot to mention my favourite story - it was The House on Maple Street, where King writes the perspective of children so brilliantly that I loved it. I also loved the Notes, though, as the author says himself, they're not for everyone.

I'm going to start on the first book of the Millenium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soon. Looking forward to it. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

P.S. - If you've read and liked this book, read Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things (reviewed here). It reminded me a hell lot of this book.

24 comments:

  1. I really like your style of writing. Of the books you mentioned in this page..I've read 2 states..so could connect with it...I read another book of Stephen hawking.short stories..supposedly horror ones..it wasnt scary..but a few were thrilling...just in case you remem.. the first story of the book was about a man..who was in comma was mistaken to be dead..and was kept in a post-mortem room..SH makes us feel the pain through the words..

    nice background..and ur blog looks neat..keep it up..keep posting.

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  2. Hey unknown, thanks a lot.
    Though I think you have Stephen Hawking and Stephen King confused..though the story you've described seems to be a King one. I haven't read it, though...this was my first one. I'll keep a look out for this one.
    Thanks for commenting, and do keep visiting.

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  3. Stephen king has always been good in characterization in his stories. I haven't read this book yet. Let me pick it up some time soon :)

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  4. oops my bad :)..yes I meant King not Hawking...dont know how I wrote.(doesnt even qualify as a typo also)..may be my huge respects to the latter one..it just came out..

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  5. @Mohan: Let me know what you think about it. :)
    @Unknown: I thought it was something like that...no worries, I understood what you meant. :D

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  6. Hey I've never read a Stephen King book :P. Suggest a couple of his best(and which are easily available) plz :)

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  7. Oh wow! Just yesterday I was contemplating to start a blog to write book reviews and was applauding myself about my ingenious idea and here I am to see a VERY good blog on the same.

    Havent yet started Stephen King. Should pickup one next month. ANd yes, may be you should start P.G.Wodehouse. He is the best in the world for rib tickling humor. :)

    Will be here regularly and I might start another blog to compete with you ;)

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  8. Damn, my whole reply got deleted. Ok, starting again:

    Pavan: If you want to read more along the lines of...
    Horror: Carrie
    Fantasy (Medieval): The Dark Tower Series
    Sci-Fi: Dreamcatcher.
    These aren't books I've read, but they're his most acclaimed books. Plus I've seen the dreamcatcher movie - brilliant. :)
    Of course, if you want a bit of everything just take the book I reviewed above. :)

    Aditya: Haha, I don't often like competition but I love it in the form of book review blogs because I get to see the books other people have read and add them to my reading lists. So definitely go with it! :)

    And I love P.G. Wodehouse - especially his Jeeves series... maybe I should review one later this month...anyway, what are your favourite Wodehouse books?

    Oh, and you should definitely read Stephen King. *Refers to the list above for Pavan*

    Thanks for visiting and keep in touch! :)

    Sakhi.

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  9. I have Dreamcatcher on my desktop for ages and never seen it :P. Will get the book first . Thanks for the patient reply :D

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  10. Hmm...tell me what you think of both when you're finished.

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  11. wow...thanks so much for putting up a blog on book reviews...:)

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  12. Well, I have always been a very big fan of Stephen King and his books. And in this recent while, I'd forgotten what an amazing writer King really is. And with this book, it was once again reminded, that he's just so prolific, and he's a true craftsman. There were some terrific stories in this collection, along with a few that were just too over the top and a couple of clunkers. But overall, I was surprised at how quickly and enthusiastically I tore through this thick volume.

    Also, a very good review by a very good reviewer of a very good book! ;)

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  13. Hi Arjit,

    I totally agree with your analysis. I mean some of the stories in this volume are just brilliant, but there are some like the baseball ones that I've still not been able to go through...but overall he's still miles ahead of almost anyone else I've read in the genre.

    Thanks so much for your compliment. Keep visiting.

    Sakhi.

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  14. hey!! nice review...although i'm not inclined towards it very much! :) btw once u finish or anytime when u're not reading it, could u give me the girl with the dragon tattoo?? i went to crossword but they didn't have the first book in stock! :( i've been meaning to read it since forever! :D
    how were your exams? are they done? um..have u read "memoires of a geisha"? i've seen the movie...how's the book?

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  15. Hey Aanal,
    I finished Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yesterday, I'll bring it for you tomorrow or something. Its pretty cool. (Full review tomorrow). :)
    My exams were good...only eed left, that's tomorrow...and I havent read it, just seen the movie too. :) Heard its good though.

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  16. hey my friend, if you have read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Camron, could you please send me the link of review :)

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  17. Unfortunately not read that, sorry. :( Is it a good book?

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  18. Nice review! I haven't read this book, though, I'm a huge Stephen King fan (my first SK book was The Shining)!
    I love what you wrote about his characters. That's one of the basic reasons that I love his books. The way he can make you agree and think like and sympathize with even the 'bad guys' is kind of cool!
    I guess I'm going to have to read this one now :)

    Priya

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  19. Hi Priya,
    If you're a King fan then I would recommend this book. Would you reccomend The Shining? (I really want to read that one - maybe next time - I've done fairly well in this time's test, so...)
    And thanks for the compliments.
    Keep reading,
    Sakhi.

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  20. well, i heard so, thats why I wanna read it. It explores the creative in u. so I've heard that it is a must read for every artist or everyone who want to be :)

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  21. I will definitely keep an eye out for it. :)

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  22. The Shining is definitely a great book, and an exciting read - I remember reading it within hours!! :)

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  23. I have wanted to read The Shining ever since I saw that FRIENDS episode on it. :)

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