Short Story Review: Stephen King – Mile 81

  • Originally posted on June 27, 2019

Last week, I finally got an opportunity to buy Stephen King’s 2015 (and, to date, most recent) collection of short stories, ‘The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams’. I often struggle to read a full length novel from Stephen King, but I appreciate his writing, so I was happy that I can still achieve it, but in mini chunks. Plus it’s a book with beautiful cover art.

As it’s a collection, it would probably be inappropriate to only review them all together. However, reviewing all 21 would get very repetitive and would probably lead my account to be reported for spam, so instead I will only review those which are interesting in some way. At the end, I’ll pull them all together and review the whole book.

‘Mile 81’, the opener, and the longest in the collection (46 pages), is certainly worthy of its own review. On the blurb, King warns that ‘the best of [his stories] have teeth’. In this case, it is accurate.

In an abandoned motorway service area between Portland and Augusta, a station wagon crashes into a set of cones. But it isn’t a normal wagon. It eats people and things which touch it, and returns to its normal shape. It relies upon contact, before sucking people through its walls.

Pete Simmons is 11 years old, and bored. He goes down a mysterious path, leading to a hut with adult magazines, a dartboard of Justin Bieber and a half empty bottle of vodka. A slightly drunk Pete, along with two small children and a hungry horse are the only ones who are witness to the man-eating car, and the only ones who can stop it…

As King says himself in the prelude to ‘Mile 81’, in a short story, every word counts. While, with all other King works, you can see a love for the backstory, he manages to focus on the main plot. The imagery he sets out is chilling, as are the brutal enactments of death and religion he paints. It is an original twist on horror, and it also feels like it could easily be a ‘Stranger Things’ episode (disclaimer: I’ve never seen an episode). This is one of the best I’ve read recently, and easily readable in a day or two.

  • ‘Mile 81′ can be found in ‘The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams’, written by Stephen King and published in 2015.

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