Riding the Bullet
Stephen King / Author Scribner Book Company $2.5 (0p) ISBN 978
E-publishing takes a giant step with the release of this grandly entertaining ghost story. Not only is it the first original e-publication by a megaselling author, but it may be the most accomplished work ever to appear only in cyberspace--and it's available through an unprecedented number of vendors and platforms. The story is vintage King. Narrator Alan Parker, 21, learns that his beloved mother has had a stroke and hitchhikes through rural Maine to see her. On the way he's picked up first by a horrid old man, then by someone far more awful: a dead young man who offers him a terrible choice. The simple, potent prose skims along spurred by high suspense. The atmospherics roil like a classic nightmare: a moonlit graveyard, howling wind, rising mist; but King spins them with a wicked modern touch--the dead man drives a Mustang, and as the corpse pulls on a cigarette, Alan sees ""little trickles of smoke escape from the stitched incision on his neck."" When Alan makes his choice, the story deepens as King taps horror fiction's particular ability to illuminate the terror of the human condition. Anyone concerned about King's writing abilities after his near-fatal accident can relax. This genuinely chilling, haunting tale finds his talent--and the state of e-publishing--in the pink.
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000