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Stephen King Short Story Review

Suspense

By Andrea Corwin Published about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024

Review of Stephen King's short story All That You Love Will Be Carried Away

King spends time on character development and building suspense in this short story, which isn't horror, so I put it in the fiction community.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The scene is the Motel 6 west of Lincoln, Nebraska, in January on a snowy evening as dusk sets in.

Alfie Zimmer has been a salesman in the Midwest for the past twenty years and used four rules to ensure he had a place to spend the night. He always reserved ahead, at a franchise motel, booking the room on the end and asking for a room number beginning with a one.

King is great with details in his stories and explains why Alfie did it this way. However, that night, he didn't get the room at the end of the building because he arrived late, and they gave it to someone else (even though he had reserved ahead). The motel room was square, with white walls and nubby green carpeting, and it was cold, so he pushed the button for the Climatron to warm up the room fast.

He pulled out his notebook, which had a creased cover from his carrying it for seven years. In it, he recorded entries he copied from the walls of restrooms he had used on the road. The last page contained one that read, "Dont chew the Trojan Gum it taste's just like rubber (AVOCA IA). [sic]

While looking through his notebook, Alfie listened to the wind roaring outside. He left a voicemail to his own recorded voice on his broken cell phone lying in the car's trunk.

He put the notebook next to the phone in the room, picked up his gun, rolled out the cylinder, and confirmed it was fully loaded. Snapping the barrel closed, he put it in his mouth, ready to end his life.

He then begins to realize he doesn't want to end his life and have people find the entries in the notebook and call him just another crazy dude. Alfie had just copied sayings he found amusing or interesting into his notebook. He wasn't crazy and didn't want anyone to think that, so he had to get rid of the notebook. Flushing it was a bad idea because it would clog the toilet. He couldn't hide it behind the picture in the motel room because the cops would find it. Alfie has pills in his coat pocket and more in the glove compartment of the car, many different prescriptions, but all for the same thing - depression. So the cops would find the drugs if they searched his room, and then during a more thorough search, they would discover the notebook behind the picture. He thought of burning it but remembered the smoke detector. What a dilemma for poor Alfie!

Brilliantly, he decides to throw the notebook in the farm field across the road. The snow will cover it up for the winter, and it would be ruined and unreadable by spring. As he puts his arm back to throw it, he can't let go of it. He is attached to it after all these years.

Things were bad in his life, and he figured dying would be easier than any living change. Quoting from the story: Far easier than struggling to write a book few people (if any at all) were likely to read. You see, Alfie had considered writing a little book and decided on a title that he thought was mysterious and ominous. (A strange coincidence here on a writing site..)

After all of this analysis, Alfie decided to count to sixty, and if lights appeared at the farmhouse he could see at the end of the field, he would write his book. If they didn't, he would throw the book into the field, and that would be it.

By Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

King ends it ambiguously, of course, upon the advice of his editor. He explains that he likes to drive, especially on those long interstates where one sees nothing but prairies for miles. He saw lots of graffiti in the restrooms and wrote them down, which was the basis for this short story.

I liked the story, although I was a bit nervous about what Alfie's final decision would be. With all the details King adds to his writing, this short story could have easily been a movie or a book. Is it his greatest? No, it's a short story!

#stephenking #shortstory #graffiti

thrillerShort StoryPsychologicalFan Fiction

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Andrea Corwin

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Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (14)

  • Dr. Jason Benskin26 days ago

    Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Truly commendable work Many congratulations

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago

    amazing.. congratulations ♥️

  • Praiseabout a month ago

    Great work

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!

  • JBazabout a month ago

    He is the master for a reason. He somehow manages to create a character we can relate to. I will be adding this on my to read list

  • Haychie_Artistabout a month ago

    Amazing ❤️

  • Dawnxisoul393artabout a month ago

    Very interesting, wonderful job, thank you very much, and have a nice weekend!

  • Michelle Liewabout a month ago

    I just wrote a piece on tough decisions. Sounds like King's character! I'll check this out, Andrea!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Ah man, I was waiting for him to die, lol. You could post reviews like this in the BookClub community 😁

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    This sounds really good! I love when he goes more ambiguous with his endings. I find that he’s one of those writers who puts out so much material that a lot of it, especially his newer stuff, isn’t the greatest. He’s a legend of course so he can do whatever he wants 😂 Write away, Mr. King. But this sounds super interesting and great for a short story of his, got to check it out!

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Oh, I did read this one! And I wondered about trying to toss the book but not the gun or pills. I think he made it through...

Andrea Corwin Written by Andrea Corwin

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