Bad Dreams Journal #1: Mile 81

I'm reading the Bazaar of Bad Dreams and liking it very much.  I'm not a huge fan of Mile 81, but enjoying it just the same.  It's corny, okay?  But the nice thing about a short story is that it gives the writer opportunity to play and be goofy without committing himself or the reader to hundreds of pages.  It can just be a "hey, what if. . ."  What if a car ate people?  Not ran them over, like Christine -- what if it actually ate them?

Many of these stories are what we just love about King -- raw, fun horror.  He's not trying to be "deep" in Mile 81; though he can't help but be perceptive concerning human character -- he's just having fun.  And for that reason, we have fun with him.  The reader feels his joy as he tells us a quick story, whispering it in our ear before we get caught.

Mile 81 is a bit ADHD for a short story.  What I mean is that there is a lot of character shifting to keep up with.  Because King means to pile the bodies up, he wants to first introduce us to each victim.  Of course, the advantage of that kind of story telling is that it causes the reader to be screaming at the characters, "Don't touch the car!"  Because w know what they know.

I do like it that in Mile 81, King does something that horror writers usually avoid -- he calls the police.  King himself has said that one thing every writer has to address is: Why not just call the police?  Well, in Mile 81, he brought them right onto stage.

I've heard some whining in the Stephen King community that these are all -- mostly all -- stories previously published.  I like having them all together (with the exception of Blockade Billy, once was enough for me on that one.)  But, what's really nice is that King gives a chatty introduction to the stories, and I like that very much!  I now know that Mile 81 was written twice.


  1. I didn't hate it or anything, but "Mile 81" underwhelmed me. Nothing in it seemed real; it seemed like it was just a bunch of pieces being pushed around on a board. King is almost always more engaged with his characters than that. Not here.

  2. yeah, I agree. It's an idea he played with. But it's all plot, no characters worth noting. He starts to develop the kid -- but his real interest is the car. Unfortunately, unlike Christine, this car just isn't that interesting.

    1. What it reminds me of is "The Raft." It's not even vaguely as good, though.

      It might have had a chance if the whole story had been about the kid from the beginning section indulging in some j.d. activity and then something crazy happening. But the story has no focus, so nothing in it ever sticks.

      I did enjoy the mini-intro, though.

  3. Hmm. This is a story that I was really looking forward to reading. The premise seemed like a good old-fashioned horror story that hearkened back to King's older works.

    I'm still gonna read it and I hope I like it.

  4. Audi 7's new tv commercial is Mile 81.

  5. I found the ending of Mile 81 contradictory. The boy uses a magnifying glass to heat up the car. The car then shoots off into the atmosphere. I'm sure air friction would be more than the 400C of the glass.