Thursday, October 29, 2009

"1408"- Stephen King

I just finished reading this Stephen King short story. It's a good time of year to be reading Stephen King; Halloween is this weekend, and there's a chill in the air that makes it easy to believe that things that are not quite human could be passing by.

In "1408", the reader meets Mike Enslin, a writer who investigates paranormal places. He has come to a haunted hotel, to stay in room 1408, which has killed off an alarming number of occupants during the hotel's history. Enslin is a skeptic; he does not believe in paranormal activity because in all his investigations, he has never come across any. Once he leaves room 1408, however, he will be a believer.

This story is typical Stephen King fare, but not what I typically read. This makes it difficult to evaluate it because I prefer to read romance novels, cozy mysteries, and young adult books. My forays into the horror genre are limited to Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, which are more mysteries and fantasy novels than horror novels, and the occasional vampire novel. That said, I have read several other Stephen King short stories ("Autopsy Room Four", "The Man in the Black Suit", and "All that You Love Will Be Carried Away," all from Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales.) "Autopsy Room Four" and "The Man in the Black Suit" are just as creepy as "1408", but those tales grabbed me in a way that "1408" failed to.

It may be that what drew me to "Autopsy Room Four" and "The Man in the Black Suit" is that the protagonists in those stories do not deserve to have bad things happen to them, and in "1408", I sort of felt like Mike Enslin was getting what was coming to him. His skepticism and lack of respect for paranormal phenomena make me feel as if he deserves for the haunted hotel room to make him a believer.

Another thing that bugs me about "1408" is that it lacks the suspense of "Autopsy Room Four" and "The Man in the Black Suit"; in those two stories, the reader is kept on the edge of his or her seat, wanting to know what is going to happen to the protagonists. While reading "1408", I just didn't care, which is ultimately what makes this story fail for me as a reader.

Final Grade: C-.

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