As with all of Stephen King’s collections, I’m giving each story a one-sentence review. Before we begin, I would like to say a few things that have little to do with this book’s contents. If you do not care for personal stories in reviews, you should take this chance to move along, or you may scroll past the next few paragraphs. But I hope you’ll join me. Maybe my story will help someone who doesn’t know they need help.
While listening to this one (I chose the audiobook for this reread), I tried to remember what was going on in my life when this book came out. The year was 2002, the month was March, and six months prior, I had met the woman who would become my wife. I was working as a CNA for a local hospital and had been clean for about five months. My drug of choice was heroin. My wife is the reason I decided on recovery. Not because it was love at first site, or any of that nonsense, but because I finally found something I cared more for than the drugs. To this day, she doesn’t knows how bad I was. She might have an idea that I was on something, but I don’t think she knew the extent of my addiction.
Any junkie will tell you, “Once a junkie, always a junkie.” As far as I see it, there are three stages of being a Junkie: Active junkie, relapsed junkie, and recovering junkie. There is no former junkie. If you’ve ever enjoyed hard drugs, you will always have a taste for it. The fits and seizures and sweats and vomiting everything you eat lasts about two weeks. If you’re lucky, you can sleep through the first few days. If you’re unlucky, like I was, you ride that motherfucker until sparks spit from the undercarriage. It’s a perpetual feeling of being dragged through a field of insulation. You can’t scratch deep enough and motor control is a concept lost on you. All this to kick something that makes you feel like you’re soaking in a warm cloud of perpetual orgasm whenever you take it. Is it any wonder junkies relapse? What most junkies don’t tell you is how badly you need a smoke, a shot, a snort, a drink, or whatever, for as long as one year later. That need eventually turns into a lesser want after the first year and you just have to ignore it if you’re going to make it. But that first year, man… It is fucking awful. Everything seems like it would be so much better if you relapsed, if you just gave in and took that smoke, that shot, that snort, that drink… But it won’t be. Sure, that first hour is gonna be magic, kid, but everything after is gonna feel like prematurely ejaculating inside the girl of your dreams, or having the man of your dreams squirt off after two pumps. You’ll want to go again. But you shouldn’t. Because getting better starts with changing your attitude and finding something greater than the addiction.
But anyway. My recovery was why I hated this book when it first came out. I was in a bad place with a great person. And what I once considered one of King’s worst books turned out to be not so bad after all. I really enjoyed myself this time around. However, I still believe this is his weakest collection. Even if there are two amazing stories herein, the rest are just so-so. Here’s why:
“Autopsy Room Four” – There’s a fine line between tribute and thievery, and King walks it in this homage to an old Twilight Zone episode. ***
“The Man in the Black Hat” – King won an O. Henry award for this short, but other than the description of the titular devil, it falls a little flat for me. ***
“All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” – This literary tale is, I think, what sets King apart from every other writer in the business – he can play at any genre and succeed because he’s a jack of all trade of the wordsmith variety. ****
“The Death of Jack Hamilton” – Loved the disgusting bits, but this one goes on way too long. **
“In The Deathroom” – I feel the same way about this one as I did with the last one. **
“The Little Sister of Eluria” – Whether it be a day trip or a long vacation, Mid-World is one of my favorite destinations. *****
“Everything’s Eventual” – A little tale of psychic persuasion with ambiguous morals. ***
“L.T.’s Theory of Pets” – Just fucking funny. *****
“The Road Virus Heads North” Can’t be bothered to give a fuck for this one, but the television adaptation wasn’t bad. *
“Lunch at the Gotham Café” – So much gory fun. ****
“That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French” – Repetitive to the point of inducing sleep, and unfortunately, that’s the point. **
“1408” – Probably one of the coolest ideas King’s approached. ****
“Riding the Bullet” – A fun little ride, but not much else. ***
“Lucky Quarter” – Sad. ***
In summation: Everything’s Eventual is King’s most inconsistent collection. You can almost hear King singing, “Somma dis shit, somma dat shit, a whole lotta uddah shit,” over and over as he threw these stories together. For my money, I would have loved to have seen him hold onto these and pair them with the tales in Just After Sunset and given us another massive collection like Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Oh well. You know what they say. “Want in one hand and shit in the other.”
Final Judgment: Some of everything is eventually put on display.