Many people who write about horror literature maintain that mood is its most important element. Stephen King disagrees: "My deeply held conviction is that story must be paramount.... All other considerations are secondary--theme, mood, even characterization and language."
These fine stories, each written in what King calls "a burst of faith, happiness, and optimism," prove his point. The theme, mood, characters, and language vary, but throughout, a sense of story reigns supreme. Nightmares & Dreamscapes contains 20 short tales--including several never before published--plus one teleplay, one poem, and one nonfiction piece about kids and baseball that appeared in the New Yorker. The subjects include vampires, zombies, an evil toy, man-eating frogs, the burial of a Cadillac, a disembodied finger, and a wicked stepfather. The style ranges from King's well-honed horror to a Ray Bradbury -like fantasy voice to an ambitious pastiche of Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald. And like a compact disc with a bonus track, the book ends with a charming little tale not listed in the table of contents--a parable called "The Beggar and the Diamond."