Monday, September 10, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: a small peril

The Man in the Black Suit by Stephen King from the Everything's Eventual collection

I love how Stephen King recognizes the beauty of the nine, ten, eleven year olds. They are at a wonderful age, not a child anymore, just beginning to grow up, but not a teenager yet. They are smart and can think, but still have the wonder and belief in their eyes. (I have a nine year old son myself, so I can see these wonderful qualities for myself) some of his best stories involve this age as main characters - It and Stand By Me come to mind immediately. Philip Pullman also has a ten year old main character in Lyra, saving the world in His Dark Materials' Trilogy.

The Man in the Black Suit is the reminisces of an old man, to a day in 1914, when he was nine (of course) years old. It is a simple story, but told well. Only a nine year old could have this experience and tell it this way, because they don't question what they see, they know. And if a nine year old sees the devil, he knows. He doesn't convince himself that it is something else, or that he dreamed it, or he was mistaken. He knows he met the devil. This is that story.

King includes a little explanation with each story, because he truly has so much to tell. This story was his hommage to a Nathanial Hawthorne story Young Goodman Brown. If I were a more responsible reviewer, I would have also read the Hawthorne story, and compared and contrasted them and had a more complete review. That is not me, however, as I have children to feed instead, but in my head, I can imagine I did that and you are suitably impressed. Mayhaps a commenter can comment and save me the work. Some day Hawthorne, some day.


  1. I did like the kids in Stand By Me but there was a scene towards the end of It that made me very uncomfortable.

    I like upfront explanations as well, didn't he do that for Nightmares and Dreamscapes too?

    And nuts to being a responsible reviewer. It sounds like the story can stand by itself anyhow!

  2. john - King likes to explain his stories in several of his books; I love his behind the scenes info. I can't remember that particular scene; that whole book creeped me out completely - and I couldn't put it down.

  3. I just love Stephen King. And you are right. He is utterly fantastic at writing from a young person's viewpoint. One of the main reasons I love his writing so much is his knack for writing in such an easy way. It's almost like being there!


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