« Children of the New Disorder / Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore | Main | Ghost Walk / Brian Keene »

"A Very Tight Place" / Stephen King

thMcSweeneys27Cover.jpgMcSweeney’s, Issue 27 / May 2008
Reviewed by: Blu Gilliand

Let me say it right off the bat: “A Very Tight Place” is vintage Stephen King. Maybe not classic King, but certainly vintage. The story springs from one of his patented “what if?” scenarios – in this case, “What if a man were trapped in a port-a-potty?” Admittedly, that’s a summary that sounds more at home as the logline of a new Adam Sandler comedy, but in King’s hands the result is a claustrophobic and engaging meditation on loss and desperation.

King is in fine form here, from his usual sharp characterizations all the way down to descriptive passages with the power to turn heads as well as stomachs. It’s a welcome return to the lean, down-and-dirty approach that made the stories in Night Shift and Skeleton Crew so much fun.

Curtis Johnson made millions on the stock market and is now living the good life on Turtle Island, a small Florida enclave populated with other millionaires, including one Tim Grunwald. A land dispute has driven a permanent wedge between Johnson and Grunwald, who these days limit their contact to the courtroom. It’s with some surprise that Johnson receives a message from his nemesis asking for a face-to-face at the site of one of Grunwald’s failed real estate ventures. “Let’s end this,” Grunwald offers, and a skeptical Johnson heads to the abandoned construction site to find out what the man has to say.

The two men who meet at the wasteland of half-finished buildings that is Durkin Grove Village are both trapped in their own downward spirals. Johnson is grieving over a personal loss that Grunwald, deliberately or not, is responsible for, and has lost sight of any kind of passion for life. Grunwald is mired in multiple crises of both financial and personal natures. When these two combustible elements come together under the hot Florida sun…well, it’s not giving much away to say that things get nasty in a hurry.

“A Very Tight Place” is a taut little thriller, a well-told tale that delivers far more than you’d expect from its one-line plot description. Appearing now in the 27th issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the literary magazine famous as much for its unique presentation as its content, “Place” is also slated for inclusion in King’s late-2008 collection Just After Sunset. Wherever you choose to read it, you won’t be disappointed.

Purchase McSweeney’s Issue 27, including “A Very Tight Place” by Stephen King.

Pre-order Stephen King’s Just After Sunset, including “A Very Tight Place”.

Posted on Monday, June 23, 2008 at 10:07AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend