[Review] The Bazaar of Bad Dreams - Stephen King

Title of Book: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Year: 2015
Language: English
Format: Hardback
Pages: 495

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.


The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a short story collection by Stephen King. The idea of this book is it’s like a bazaar where Mr. King offers us, the readers, his ‘products’. But his products are the kind that could give us nightmare. This book has 20 short stories, each has commentary from Stephen King on how or why he wrote them. Some stories have already published prior to this collection and some haven’t.

Unfortunately, not all stories in this book are my favorite. I do like King’s writing, he’s a talented story teller. But like all short story collection, it’s a hit or miss situation. For example, I like the one called Bad Little Kid, but I couldn’t care less for The Bone Church or Blockade Billy.

Even though it’s a collection of short stories, I’d rather call these stories peculiar and unsettling. They are dark and twisted. Some of these stories observe the darker side of human’s psychology. Like in the story titled A Death, in which a sheriff tried to see the best in people when the truth wasn’t in his favor; or in the story called Under the Weather where a man made a twisted defense mechanism when he couldn’t face the reality of his wife’s situation.

My favorite short stories are Bad Little Kid, A Death, Ur, Under the Weather, and Obits. I’ve read Ur before in a standalone novella format. It’s a story about an Amazon Kindle which can access parallel worlds. These stories are the ones I find disturbing but compelling at the same time.

While the stories are of course the stars of this book, to me it’s the commentary that hooked me the most. It’s fascinating and knowing behind the scene changed the way I read the stories. I’ve read some stories in this book, but my reading experience changed after I read the commentary.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this short story collection. It took me longer than it should have to finish it because I don’t have to read it back-to-back. I could just read one story, read another book, and read another story again. It’s easy to get back into. As I said before, Mr. King is a talented storyteller. Although the subject might not be of my interest (like Blockade Billy because I’m not interested in baseball), reading the story itself was always fun. If you’re discouraged by it being labeled as a horror book, no need to worry because it’s not that scary and I think most people can handle it.

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