In his introduction to this collection, Stephen King recalls being a credulous youngster who believed all sorts of things--from the reality of Santa Claus to Richard Nixon's plan to get the country out of Vietnam. He is still like this, and willingly accepts the recurring disappointments in exchange for the ability to believe in a story and bring it to life. In this collection, his third following Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, King believes into existence twenty-two stories--and one nonfiction piece--intended to scare the reader "...so badly you won't be able to go to sleep without leaving the bathroom light on." Some of them deliver all too well.
Three of my favorites:
In "Dolan's Cadillac" we live through years of obsessive investigation and planning for revenge. A man traps the mob boss who ordered his wife's death and systematically covers up all evidence of his crime. Perfect.
If you could remove mankind's violent tendencies and bring about "The End of the Whole Mess" of murder and war, you would do it, right? Even if it wasn't the smartest thing to do.
In "Suffer the Little Children" we meet Miss Sidley, a teacher who has been taking care of children all of her adult life. One day her students begin acting strangely...so she takes care of them.
This book is highly recommended for Stephen King fans and readers who enjoy a well-crafted story that makes their brains squirm for a day or two after reading.
on July 6, 2004
NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES is a collection of some odd, eclectic short fiction, showcasing Stephen King at his macabre best.
In "Dolan's Cadillac," a man gets revenge for his murdered wife...through hard labor and ingenious thinking. "Suffer the Little Children" is a tale for every child who had an insufferable teacher, and wanted to do something about it."The Night Flier" is a tale of obsession that leads to the ultimate horror. In "Popsy," a young boy is kidnapped...but his grandfather is on his trail, and has a few surprises up his cape. "The Moving Finger" is a macabre tale of madness...or the utmost sanity. In "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band," a young couple is about to attend an amazing rock concert...which may last for the rest of eternity. "The Ten O'Clock People" tells of two societies who live beneath normal human radar; one is benevolent, while the other is bent on world domination. "Crouch End" and "The Doctor's Case" are great examples of British fiction by an American, the latter about Sherlock Holmes. In the fantisful "The House on Maple Street," four children are about to unlock the secrets of their home. "Umney's Last Case" is a bizarre crime-noir, about the power an author has over his story, and vice versa. "Head Down" is an enchanting essay about kids and baseball.
NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES. Stephen King. Need I say any more than that? A wonderful, intriquing, and entertaining collection, this book is guaranteed to occupy a welcomed place on your bookshelf. This collection goes to show why Stephen King is one of contemporary literature's best writers.
on September 28, 2002
At 692 pages, "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" is a doorstopper of a book. I planned to read it a story at a time over a period of weeks, but as usual got hooked on King and read it straight through, right from his usual folksy introduction (each of which I am sure he writes solely for me!) to the charming little moral folktale tacked on at the end. The stories are to say the least, diverse. I would call this collection "King's Scrapbook."
"Dolan's Cadillac" highly regarded by most Amazon reviewers is very hard tech for King. Interestingly, he says in his notes that technical stuff bores him, but it had to be done for this story. I have no more interest than he does in the proper "arc of descent;" I would have been just as mindlessly satisfied if he had shot the Cadillac out of a cannon, so it's not one of my favorites.
"Clattery Teeth" I just know SK had a hoot of a time writing it. He lovingly sets the scene and characters and then puts them at the mercy of a set of not-so-funny joke teeth (that wear spats). It's 80 degrees more grotesque than the "Young Frankenstein," and I felt guilty for laughing.
"The Moving Finger" Mr. Mitla is the perfectly normal man living a perfectly normal life when one morning he goes into his bathroom, and a finger is emerging from his bathroom sink drain and tapping on the porcelain. No one can see this finger except Mr. Mitla, and he slowly goes bonkers and his entire life is in a shambles. Unlike "Clattery Teeth" this one is terrifying. See for yourself.
"My Pretty Pony" though highly acclaimed, didn't much interest me UNTIL I read in Notes that the exquisitely sensitive little boy, Clive Banning, grew up to be a hardened killer in an unpublished Richard Bachman novel. We leave Clive at 7-years old in the Pony story.
"The House on Maple Street" delighted me because children are empowered and the bad guy gets his just desserts in a most explosive fashion. I was all-around satisfied.
"Umley's Last Case" is my favorite. SK takes a spin in Raymond Chandler land. He sets the scene meticulously and the characters are perfect. I was reminded of Nathaniel West's "Day of the Locust." Then things start going askew in a very King-like way. What if the author of P.I. books decided he liked the detective's life better than his own, and decided to swap places? What would happen? Would it be too far out if the detective who has never lived outside a book set in the 1930's had to spend a week toilet training himself? (Characters in hard-boiled novels never have to go to the bathroom.)
There are 20 stories in "Nightmares & Dreamscapes." It is not as brilliantly crafted as "Everything's Eventual" nor is it as well organized as "Skeleton Crew" and "Night Shift." I don't think many readers will like ALL of the stories, but there are such a variety, that most of the readers will like SOME of the stories, and some will like MOST of the stories. Chances are everyone will find one or two that will stay with them forever.
on August 16, 2002
This is a very, very good collection. It ranges from the macabre to the heartfelt, from the scary to the puzzling.
There is something for everyone here, lovers of non-fiction and baseball will love "Head Down" a great little non-fiction "essay" on Little League. Admittedly, i wasn't very interested in it so skimmed it, but it's an incredibly enjoyable piece of writing, very very well written, and at times touching.
If detective novels are your thing, you'll love "The Doctor's Case" a short story about Holmes and Watson, where it is Watson who cracks the crime, not Holmes.
Then there is the rather strange story, Sorry, Right NUmber, which is not told conventionally, more in the style of a TV script, but it's another very clever story that is very enjoyable.
And you of course then have the typical horror stories, such as Chattery Teeth and The Moving Finger. Then there are more "message" stories, such as My Pretty Pony.
King's variety is remarkable. Every story touches on a different element, but they all have something in common: The fact that they are all immensely enjoyable and well written. Once again, his notes at the end make the book even more special. My personal favourites of this colelction are Chattery Teeth and The House on Maple Street.
on May 20, 2002
I've been a fan of Stephen K since I was 14, and like I said, these stories are EXCELLENT!!!!! My favorites? Hard to choose, but here are some standouts.
POPSY -- About a kindly old grandpa who happens to be a VAMPIRE.
RAINY SEASON - B-Movie style horror with that classy Stephen K spark that makes it anything BUT B-Grade
THE HOUSE ON MAPLE STREET about a family of young'uns who plan to do away with their Stepfather from Hell
SORRY RIGHT NUMBER - A television play about a woman who gets a very strange phone call
CHATTERY TEETH - About a novelty toy that's not as innocent as it looks.
YOU KNOW THEY HAVE A HELL OF A BAND - I think I may like this one best of all. Clark and Mary are married sweethearts who stumble into a town populated with and run by departed rock stars!!!! COOL beans!!!! Wish he'd expand this one into a novel or a screenplay. It's rated G for GREAT and X for X-CELLENT!!!!
I wish I could give this book 10 stars! I think I may need a new copy soon. I'm wearing mine out from re-reading it so much!
on July 8, 2001
Nightmares and Dreamscapes is Stephen King's third volume of short stories. It contains 20 stories, horror and non.
N&D contains some of the most imaginitive and horrific stories I've ever read. King throws in vampires, monsters, ghosts, and.. uh.. vampires! He even included one teleplay he wrote, "Sorry, Right Number" that was aired as a short on the old TV horror show, "The Dark Side." I must include that this teleplay is, in my opinion, the best story in this book. It contains the most inventine ending I've ever seen!
This volume also includes "The Night Flier," which became a 1998 motion picture. Most of the stories are great, which is why I rated this four stars. The reason for the lack of the fifth star is thus: I bought this book to read before I went to bed. I decided I wanted to read a scary story every night perhaps to satisfy my childhood fascination with horror (weird, I guess..). But, unfortunately, I found that some of these stories (actually only 2 or 3), such as "My Pretty Pony," had nothing at all to do with horror. I felt as though I were wasting my time reading them.
With this one exception, I believe any Stephen King fan will enjoy reading this book. If you've already read Night Shift or Skeleton Crew, I recommend you continue with Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
on October 29, 2000
Like most people, I own a stack of Stephen King books, and for some reason I've never gotten around to review the ones I liked best, which makes me sort of ashamed of myself, since I keep saying that the quality of King's writing is often underrated. This is not the usual Stephen King book, this one is actually pretty mellow, compared to Carrie, for example, (that was the first of his books I read, and I hadn't read anything that gory before), but it still has its share of scary stuff, like The Ten O' Clock people, and The Moving Finger (after I read that one I really felt kind of nervous about the bathroom sink for a few days). I only could't get through the essay at the end, Head Down, because I don't understand absolutely anything about baseball. My favorites were Dedication, The End of the Whole Mess, The Ten O'Clock people, The House on Maple Street, and Popsy (oddly funny if you think about it). I suppose hardcore fans of King's horror will be sort of confused by this book, but I think any lover of short stories, like me, is bound to enjoy it.
on August 28, 2000
On balance, this collection is very good. Instead of focusing solely on horror, the stories span several genres including sci-fi, crime, and action. Told with King's naturally flowing voice, this collection should appeal to fans of any of these genres. Stories I enjoyed were "Chattery Teeth," "Sorry, Right Number," (A script, not a short story) "The Fifth Quarter," and "Rainy Season." The pick of the litter, however, is "Dolan's Cadillac," a gripping revenge story based somewhat on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." The one drawback to the collection is that some of the stories are, for lack of a better term, too weird. Some of these strange tales (e.g. "The Moving Finger") are able to redeem themselves, but others (e.g. the collection's low point, "Home Delivery") are simply difficult to finish. However, these weird stories are far outnumbered by the genuinely entertaining, scary, and fast-moving ones. Definitely worth checking out, not just if you're a Stephen King fan, but also if you like stories that hold your attention right up until the end.
on April 6, 2000
I imagine that Stephen King, like most writers, must keep several writer's notebooks around to jot down new plots and storylines whenever they come to mind. King undoubtedly developed some of those ideas into his novels, but had quite a number lying around unused until he (or his publisher) decided to assemble those stories into this collection. By and large, this book's stories are mediocre plotlines that played themselves out in a few dozen pages without developing enough suspense, interest or character to justify turning into a novel.
The first story, Dolan's Cadillac, is the best of the bunch, developing a simple theme of revenge cleverly and believably. Much of the rest of the stories left me wanting more: more intrigue, more suspense, more plot, more terror, more psychological profiles. Most of the stories are of the variety "what if something really weird happened in the typical small town US of A?" Some of the stories just didn't make much sense, including "Crouch End," a tale of an American couple's ill fated entry into a supposedly haunted, extradimensional section of London.
Good short stories of this genre should be very clever, like the ending in the movie The Sixth Sense. These stories are, by and large, not very clever, but are merely mildly imaginative. This book is to suspense and horror writing what Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" is to irony: a few of the examples are on point, but most go wide of the mark. If you are looking for a truly great work by King, read The Shining or The Stand. Nightmares and Dreamscapes is definitely not representative of King's best efforts.
on April 7, 1998
As an enormous fan of King, this book was warmly welcolmed in my arms. I wasn't dissapointed. As always, when it comes to King, I was sold. There's also a particular reason why I welcomed this book so much: In various books about King, I learned about many of those early and hard to find King stories, all the uncollected ones, and the rare ones. I was a bit sad about realizing that maybe I would never ever own these oddities. Then, finally, a new collection of King-stories showed up, mostly containing some of those old and hard to find stories. I was happy! And the book also featured a few new ones. Again, with Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, I liked all the stories, even the teleplay Sorry, Right Number (I haven't seen the adaptation yet), the Brooklyn August-poem and the Head Down-essay. I loved The Night Flier, The Moving Finger, Chattery Teeth, You Know They Got a Hell of a Band, Home Delivery, Crouch End, Rainy Season. My Pretty Pony really touched me. I don't know a hang about baseball (I am Danish, sorry!), but King makes it interesting. All I can say is that any true King fans must read this book. There's also a Sherlock Holmes-mystery involved. I only wished that King had included stories like The Cat from Hell, Man With a Belly, Pinfall, and some others of those hard to find. What about this story "The King Family and the Farting Cookie" that he wrote for his children some years ago? That could have been major fun to own that gem!