Stephen King: “Big Driver”

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Stephen King: “Big Driver”
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“Big Driver” is available on Full Dark, No StarsStephen King: Full Dark, No Stars
Psychological Thriller
Gallery Books
May, 2011
Story length: 113 pages
Website
The second short story in the Full Dark, No Stars collection is “Big Driver.” Unlike the “psychological” aspect that this book tries to push, especially with the previous story in the set called “1922,” it actually treads into the rape revenge setting, something a little uncommon in the author’s works of the past. Given the concept of the story, it is safe to say that it does play into the dark nature of humanity though, which is another aspect this compilation of tales likes to boast about itself. But, with so many novels and films that tackle this genre and do it quite well, does “Big Driver” end up contributing to it, or is this one simply not that memorable?

The story circles around a writer named Tess. She is the author of the mystery book series “The Willow Grove Knitting Society,” a collection of elderly women who solve murder mysteries. She is contacted by a woman who is having a meet and greet in her book store, and the person due to come in had cancelled. Reaching out to Tess, she promises to pay her well for a dinner with the patrons, as well as a question and answer segment. But, once the job is done, she takes a back road home, causing her to run over stray wood with nails sticking out, disabling her car. Eventually, she meets up with a rather large man, offering help, but in the end winds up raping her and leaving her for dead. Playing possum, she survives, and then goes on the hunt for the man known as “Big Driver.”

The plot to the story cannot be any simpler, really, but for the most part it’s pretty well told. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that really sticks out in the long run. There’s a few red herrings that arrive, such as the random appearances of the “Zombie Bakers” truck, and a bit of an overextensive plot to incorporate more people into setting up the rape. There’s also the old soda sign in the run down gas station that is constantly referred to throughout the story by it’s “YOU LIKE IT IT LIKES YOU” tag-line. This actually gets to the point where it’ll start to haunt you in your sleep more than the actual Big Driver rapist would.

One thing that works in favor of the story is the downward spiral into paranoia and determination to obtain revenge that Tess undergoes. Her character likes to speak as other things, such as her cat, or even her GPS. Eventually, the voices become more natural to her, as if she’s not saying them, and seem to twist to her darkest thoughts. There are many conversations held with inanimate objects, and even herself as another person, slowly going crazy as she moves further to her goal of killing the man who had raped her. Unfortunately, it’s a little more pleasant a scenario, and even atmosphere, than one might expect.

That also leads to the biggest flaw of all, which is the character development. This is a short story, and not all of the time is used well to make you start to care for Tess that much, if at all. This isn’t to say Stephen King didn’t try. Unfortunately, this is the kind of story you need to develop a compassion with in order to feel the full effect of retribution. Thankfully, the rape itself isn’t detailed, so those wanting to give this genre of story telling a shot but without the graphic visuals that may disgust or offend you, this is one that leaves it open to the imagination to dull or worsen the blow. But, had it actually been mapped out, you might feel a little more empathy for her in the long run than the innocents that get caught in her path to glory.

In the end, “Big Driver” simply doesn’t have the impact necessary to really pull you in. It’s still a decent story, but due to the lack of character development, reading through the just over one hundred pages really does become a daunting task. Of course, it does fit into the concept for the collection, and if you want a look into one of the darkest sides of human nature, then this is something that will peak your interest. After all, you like it, it likes you.

Overall Score: 5.5/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.