Full Dark, No Stars

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Stephen King requires no introduction. A legend in the genre of horror stories, his short stories have thrilled and scared legions of ardent readers. The movies based on his works have turned into cult hits and almost every one pays homage to one of the scariest writers on earth.

Whenever I recommend a book to a known acquaintance, I usually state a couple of reasons for doing so. There can be cases where my taste may differ from others and so its helpful to clear that up with them before forcing my wise talk down their throats. This book ” Full Dark, No Stars” is a collection of short stories penned down by Stephen King. Though I have read a few of his works only a few have set my body into a nervous state, I still consider Stephen King as a prolific writer of horror stories who should be read by all in order to get that rustic taste of fear that is missing in the works of most other writers.

This book really freaked me out when I read it for the first time and I haven’t felt this way before. The stories in this collection are rough, brash without any sugar coatings. It is just plain old scary stories that come to haunt you back again and again.

The afterword mentions the following, “the stories in this book are harsh. You may find them hard to read in places”.

My favourite is 1922

A man kills his wife over land and that’s just the beginning and a fraction of the horrors in this tale. Killing his wife is only the tip of the iceberg as the events that follow later are chilling as the man faces incidents he could never imagine in his wildest dreams.

My conclusion is that these shorts are superbly dark, they seem to creep with darkness and are some of the most brutal stories you will read – Stephen King is back!

How the Wisdom of God Alone Can Sustain Us – Short Story

Alpha the rugged ship was taking a tour of the seas.

He dreamt of sailing into pirated lands full of wonder, danger and challenge.

He dreamt of saving people from flaming volcanoes, and wrecked out on shore crying S.O.S.

He was a freak wannabe, a lover of games and fun

He loved the people as they rested under the sun.

The rough seas were his lifeline, he trusted them to sail on

Winds or turbulence or hailstorm, he was all too sure to go on.

A novice though in life, he feared no harm would ever touch him.

He was built real tough, strong and hardy

And not one could match his punk

The day he sailed the first time was a cool one

But the day was getting filled with troubles one-by-one

The water loomed, they lashed, they furled

Alpha braved on, he wouldn’t bat an eyelid

His confidence only stood up, oh this was a real boon

He was fit as a tambourine, to drum the finest tune.

I’m so ravishing, an eagle would be my only match

I have eyes so sharp for combat, to see the enemy afar

My sails are sturdy to take me a million miles

I wonder if I were an eagle, I would reach the ancient stars

My charisma is unparalleled, I love to rant and rave

Show me if you can even come as close

But an eagle came close to the sails,

And rent it in two…

Alpha panicked, he wasn’t hoping for that

He travelled on as fast as he could

But could not go much ahead

His sails could no longer

Keep him sailing on

Oh what doom, he didn’t need a raging storm

Only placid waters and a destiny

To show him the place he feared.

Oh what pity a giant ship like Alpha

Was pulled out of sea by a bird

Even the mighty come down to tatters

Even the swift and the smooth come to loss

The main thing is always wisdom

It will be the answer to all doom

Alpha would have mattered

If he’d used a crew to guard him

He relied instead on his strength

His power and poise and avarice

Couldn’t withstand the test

His motives weren’t lofty or noble

He was just prideful and ignoble.

So little children, be wary

Be wise and be cheery

Be sure to make wisdom your friend

And you will be quick and fast to zoom

Hedged in and well-protected from doom!

The Politics Of Animal Stories – Chinua Achebe

In the work ‘What Has Literature Got To Do With It’ Achebe brings up a very pertinent question relating literature to creation. He asks whether ‘people create stories’ or ‘stories create people’ or rather ‘stories create people create stories’. To the question whether stories would come first or people would come first is connected the myth of the creation, to which is connected the remarkable Fulani’s story.’ It is a creation story about whether man came into being first or the story came first. The story goes that in the beginning there was a ‘huge drop of milk. Then the milk created stone, the stone created fire; the fire created water; the water created air’. Then man was moulded by Doondari out of five elements. But man had pride. Then Doondari created blindness and blindness defeated man. The story is about creation, defeat of man through hubris and redemption of man. These stories are not just restricted to creation, but have been imbibed in the history of man, social organizations, political systems, moral attitudes, religious beliefs and even prejudices.

The Igbo political system, prevails on the absence of kings. The word ‘king’ is represented more by different words. In the Igobo town of Ogidi kingship gradually went out of use, because the king had to settle a lot of debts, owned by every man and woman in the kingdom. In fact one who became a king held the people in utter contempt when he organized a ritual called ‘Kola-nut’ where he cracked the nut between his teeth and made the people eat the cola-nut coated with the king’s saliva. He was dethroned and the people became a republican. It was decided the the king should guarantee the solvency of the people. These mythical stories of kingship dwindled with the emergence of the British community when kingship merged with the British political legacy and gained new connotations.

Achebe mentions two animal stories the emergence of the British community when kingship merged with the British political legacy and gained new connotations.

Achebe mentions two animal stories which are short but complex enough to warrant them as literature. Once there was a meeting of animals, at a public square, when a fowl was spotted by his neighbours going in the opposite direction. The fowl explains that he had not gone to the meeting because of some personal matter. The fowl generously said that even though not present in body he would be present in spirit. It was decided at the meeting that a particular animal, namely the fowl would henceforth be regularly sacrificed for the Gods. And so the fowl had given its assent to be a sacrificial victim forever.

The second animal story was about a snake riding a horse. The snake could not ride very skillfully. A toad came by to show the snake horsemanship. The toad rode very skillfully, and came back and returned the horse to the snake. The snake smilingly said that it was better having than not having. He had the horse in possession. So he rode away with the horse in the same way as before.

These two stories have curious implications. The fowl story is a tale of warning to democratic citizens who do not take active participation in the democratic process. The second story has significations of class divisions. The snake is an aristocrat in a class society while a toad is a commoner with expertise whose personal effort does not matter because he does not have the necessary possessions. The snake possesses merit by birth or wealth and hence enjoys privileges whether he possesses skill or not.

The connection of these stories with literature is implicit. Literature offers scope for social transition and change. Literature can cause change in society. The king enforcing his subjects to eat the saliva covered nut is obviously an invitation to rebellion. The snake story is also a story of class division and privilege, but his seeds of revolution in it. The skilled have not may be incited to rise to rebellion by observing the undue privilege of the unskilled rich. The implication is the dissolution of an incompetent oligarchy. In fact the snake figure has been chosen because of its unattractiveness for ultimately it would become the target of revolution.

Literature is connected with social, economic and educational growth. Literature is related with the creation of human societies. Because Nigeria wants to grow as an independent nation, it needs the creative energy of national stories to support and sustain the growth of the nation.

In fact even if we look back to classical literature, it is seen that the portrayal of Achilles or Ulysses is indirectly connected to the growth of Greece as a nation. So also is the portraiture of Beowulf connected to the social, historical and national development of the Anglo Saxon society. There is a relationship between the Anglo Saxons sitting around the fire on the hearth rebelling against the cold and charting their own growth and psychoanalysis storytelling. Both have a psychological implication in them. When one tells a story to the psychoanalyst he actually tells a story. The connection between literature and psychoanalysis as Achebe puts it as ‘Literature can have an important and profound positive effect as well, functioning as a kind of bountiful, nourishing matrix for a healthy, developing psyche.’ Literature thus helps to counter psyche in real life helping in a discovery of the self that tables to cope with life. Literature through the symbol of the animal story connects itself with political uprisings, sociological and historical growths as well as psychoanalytic analysis of the self which helps in confronting reality and finding one’s own self.