You Like It Darker

Posted: May 21, 2024
Category: Books
King’s new collection You Like It Darker is out today. It contains twelve stories of which five are new. The other seven have previously been published in magazines in the US so if you recognize them that’s where you’ve seen them. One interesting thing with this collection is that all the stories were written (or at least published) within the last six years (except ”The Answer Mans” which King says he started in 1977 but finished for this collection). Does this mean King doesn’t have any older stories that he feels worthy of publication? Probably. We do know there are some older unpublished ones...

But back to You Like It Darker and let’s start with a look at the already published ones. These have been published between 2018 and 2022:

"The Fifth Step" (Harpers 2020)
"Willie the Weirdo" (McSweeny 2022)
"Finn" (on Scribd 2022)
"On Slide Inn Road" (Esquire 2020)
"Red Screen" (Humble Bundle 2021)
"The Turbulence Expert" (Flight or Fright 2018)
"Laurie" ( 2018)

These are all solid stories, and they worked best for me. I read them when they were first published and enjoyed them all. They also feel quite different from each other and that is a good thing when you read them after each other like you do with a collection like this. Not much to complain about in other words.

Turning to the new stories… I don’t know if the five new are all written specifically for this collection, or if they are stories King had lying around for some time but when I read them, they feel quite similar in style and that makes me believe that they were all written in a fairly short time span. Possible with this collection in mind and a purpose to thicken it. Nothing wrong with that but I feel that they are all quite plain and not all that exciting. The title of these five are:

"Two Talented Bastids"
"Danny Coughlin's Bad Dream"
"The Dreamers"
"The Answer Man"

The best example of this is "Danny Coughlin's Bad Dream". I was hoping that it would turn out Danny actually had done what he was accused of but had repressed until the very end. Now things just unfold and that’s it. Same with "Two Talented Bastids" and "The Dreamers". It’s not bad but I expected more. Now they’re good stories (they still show us King’s ability to create characters) with unsatisfying endings.

"Rattlesnakes", the follow up to Cujo reminds me very much of Joe Hill’s story "The Pram" and not just the fact that it features a stroller. Did they inspire each other? I have no idea. As for a follow up to Cujo…well, we do get an update on what happened to Vic and Donna after Tad’s death but my expectations exceeded what I got. So, in this case I think it would have been better to not connect it to Cujo and let it be a stand-alone story. The connection to Cujo isn’t a must to get the story to work and in this particular case I think it makes your expectations go up and they aren’t really meet.

In the back of the book there is an afterword by King where he talks about how he got some of the ideas and reading it I almost thought he would tell us he was going to stop writing and retire. He didn’t but you do get that feeling when you read the afterword.

Lilja's final words about You Like It Darker:

As a whole You Like It Darker is a solid collection. Not his best and I would have appreciated a bigger variation between the (new) stories but it’s a nice read. My favorites are "The Fifth Step", "The Turbulence Expert" and the new “The Answer Man”.