Thursday, June 26

"The Man in the Black Suit" (short story) - Stephen King

The Man in the Black Suit comes from the book 'Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales' by Stephen King. It is about a nine-year-old boy who goes fishing one afternoon in 1914 and encounters...well, a 'man' in a black suit who he believes is the devil.
I ordered this book from BookMooch, since I haven't read King before and my friend seemed to like his books, plus I like short stories and particularly liked the movie '1408' (the short story of which was included in this book). So far I've read a couple of the stories - one was excellent, one was quite interesting, one was fairly standard 'burried alive' material, and two stories were kind of crap, IMHO. This was one of them.
The man in the black suit has a head like a skull, and eyes that were "completely orange" because "he was on fire inside". (Cliche, anyone?) This 'devil' man proceeds to taunt the "fisherboy" by telling him that his mother was dead. As you can imagine, this works Gary (our fisherboy) into quite a state of distress. However, the devil goes one step further and claims he's very hungry. He eats the fish that the boy has caught and then goes to eat him too. The boy runs away, the devil chases him...obviously it would be stupid to give away the ending, even though I've already given away most of the short story's plot. Which isn't much.
The ending, however, delivered absolutely nothing. I was hoping for some kind of message - any kind of message: moral, inspiring, whatever - but there was none. I thought right from the outset that the description of the devil was laughable, like a monster story told to a little child rather than a story intended for an adult audience. Furthermore, the devil just sounded like a big old pedophile to me ("You need to hear this, Gary; you need to hear this, my little fisherboy...") There was no point to this story at all and I can't believe it won an award (O Henry Best Short Story 1996). This is an author who's supposed to write horror stories so...well, horrifying...that some were banned! What happened to the disturbing imagery and haunting qualities of '1408'? They're completely absent in this particular story. A devil in a black suit taunts and chases a boy who went fishing. THE END.
It was rubbish. I expected more from such a popular, bestselling author. I hope the other stories make up for it. 1 STAR

1 comment:

danz91 said...

i read this story in the beginning king said he met an elder man how swear up and down on the bible of that story that it was not fictional that little boy was him as a kid. i herd other people describe the devil that way in other stories that's what made it the scariest short story in 1408 because it was possible true. even Stephen king did not expect it to arise but he won a prize for it he even thought it seemed childish.