Stephen King's "1922"

1922 is one of the better examples of the novella that I can point to in terms of form and content. Stephen King seems naturally at home in his ability to create stories at that length. The Mist, The Library Police, Apt Pupil, The Sundog--of course, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. These are fantastic yarns that come alive in about 120-140 pages. King is able to fill his characters out with lively backgrounds while keeping the tension and the action finely tuned. 

If there is a consistent criticism of King's novels, it's that he focuses too closely in some passages. I would never call the man verbose, but there is an awful lot of detail in some of his books.

But a lot of that excess is stripped away in his novellas. 1922 is a lean, mean, terrifying read. It tells the story of Wilfred James in a King staple--the epistolary confession. Wilf has a great voice and a beautiful relationship with his son, Hank. In fact, the story is as much Hank's as it is Wilf's. King's introduction of the Sweetheart Bandits is its own narrative, and I give the author a ton of credit for capturing the history of the dust bowl and the Great Depression in living color here.

You can find the story in Full Dark No Stars. It's a return to the dark, dark stuff of King's early '90s production. Highly recommended for an afternoon read...

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