Posted: March 16, 2002
In Everything's Eventual, King's fourth collection, there are only stories that are previously published. How do I feel about that? Well, I would have loved to have an unpublished one among them no doubt about that but on the other hand most of the stories here are so good that they deserve their place in this collection.
The best one by far (and probably the best short story King has written to date) is Autopsy Room Four. Autopsy Room Four tells the story of Howard Cottrell who after a round of golf wakes up on a autopsy table unable to move as the doctors around him prepare to do an, you guessed it, autopsy on him. This short story is besides the best King has written also the most chilling and frightening one in the collection.
Autopsy Room Four was first published in the very limited edition of King's Six Stories back in 1997. Everything's Eventual also contains four of the other five stories from that collection (Blind Willie was published, in a slightly altered way, in Hearts in Atlantis); The Man in the Black Suit, L.T.'s Theory of Pets, Lunch at the Gotham Café and Luckey Quarter.
You could almost say that Everything's Eventual is a gathering of King's smaller and stranger collections that has been released in the last years. You have the already mentioned Six Stories but you also have the stories from the audio collection Blood and Smoke; Lunch at the Gotham Café (who was also in Six Stories), In the Deathroom and 1408.
Besides getting these smaller collections together Everything's Eventual also gather up most of the stories that King has published in magazines (primarily The New Yorker) and other places. You have the recently published The Death of Jack Hamilton that tells the story of how gangster Jack Hamilton died. No one knows exactly how he died but it's certainly possible that it happens the way King tells it…
You also find The Dark Tower story The Little Sisters of Eluria collected here. This is a story that you can read without having read the other Dark Tower books. It doesn't hurt if you have though and I'm sure it will play a big role in the big picture later on as the story of Roland unfolds.
We also get the title story, Everything's Eventual, and personally I think one of the stronger stories (like Autopsy Room Four) should have gotten the honor to name the collection but I guess that's really not that important. This story was supposed to get its first publication on the Stephen King software F13. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on what you think about F13) the otherwise pretty lame software was delayed and Fantasy & Science Fiction got to be the first to publish it. Which I personally felt was a blessing. This story is also said to possibly be connected to The Dark Tower…
Another story is That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French which takes the concept of déjà vu to a new height and tells the tale of a traveling couple where the wife gets to relive things over and over again. It really gets you to think one extra time the next time you get that feeling, I have been here before…
These are the strong stories of Everything's Eventual even if L.T.'s Theory of Pets is better when you hear King read it then it is if you read it yourself. Unfortunately there are also some less good stories in Everything's Eventual. All That You Love Will Be Carried Away was recently published in The New Yorker and when I read it the first time I really hated the fact that I didn't get to know what happened to Alfie. I felt that King had taken the easy way out of this one. When I read it this time I appreciated it better though. I felt that I could better understand what King was after and that I missed a bit of that the first time I read the story. I'm not entirely as unhappy with the ending as I was so…maybe it's unfair of me to say that it's one of the weaker stories in Everything's Eventual but I'm gonna stick with my first feeling here. I guess however that the more you read this story, the more your going to appreciate it.
The last two stories both suffer from somewhat the same problem as All That You Love Will Be Carried Away. They both have week endings. With The Road Virus Heads North it feels like King was in a hurry to get the ending done. He starts the build up of the story with his usual carefulness and here he takes his time. Then when it gets to the end it feels rushed. The Road Virus Heads North is the story that suffers most from this I think. The encounter at the end of the story almost fades away to nothing.
The last story is Riding the Bullet. Personally I hope, and think, that the story gets a better chance here though then it got when it was first published. Riding the Bullet was first published on the Internet and unfortunately people where more interested in how many had downloaded it, how much money had King made on it and most importantly, was this the end of the paper book? Not many cared for the story itself and even though I think it's a bit weak at the end (I was expecting a more exciting finale) I feel it deserves a second chance, which it gets here.
Neither of these three weaker stories are in any way bad stories. They are just a little bit weaker then the others...
Besides the stories Everything's Eventual also contains a short note by King in which he tells us how the stories got their order in the book, which is quite fascinating. Personally I wished he had told us what stories he chooses from and why The Old Dude's Ticker didn't made it into the book.
The book also contains an introduction called Practicing the (Almost) Lost Art in which King tells us how he feels about the short story and how he feels it might be a dying art form.
Before or after every story (depending of if it spoils the story or not) there are small commentaries by King about them. These are always nice to read, especially the one for The Little Sisters of Eluria where he says that The Dark Tower V is done!
Lilja's final words about Everything's Eventual
Even if you have already read most or all of the stories in Everything's Eventual I think you should get this collection. The stories in it are the some of the best King has written and I'm especially thinking of Autopsy Room Four but all the others are really good stories and most are great stories!
If you haven't read the stories in Everything's Eventual there isn't much to talk about, go get the book today! You won't regret it. I personally think that this is King's most even collection to date.
Check out my review of the audio edition of LT's Theory of Pets here.