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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Gingerbread Girl (audiobook) by Stephen King

A short story: dramatic, gory, creepy and quite satisfying.

Published by Simon and Schuster Audio in 2008
Read by Mare Winningham
Duration: 2 hours, 13 minutes

"Run, run, as fast as you can
You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"

Some time back some brilliant someone in the vast Simon and Schuster bureaucracy (I assume it is vast. I guess it could be just some guy named Simon talking to some guy named Schuster all day long but it seems much bigger to me) decided that Stephen King's short stories would make nice little audiobooks. That anonymous, faceless cubicle dweller was absolutely right. Here's the deal with Stephen King and audiobooks - he tends to write long books and that means you are listening to one story for a long time. For example, the audio version of The Stand lasts 47 hours and 52 minutes. Two complete days of a tale of woe, disease, mass death, chaos. I listen in the car so that would mean a solid month, maybe more. Can you imagine what that much Stephen King do to your brain? I shudder at the thought.

Stephen King
But, two hours of Stephen King? Get in, get out and get a little taste of what he has to offer. Yeah, I am in for that. This is my fifth Stephen King audio short story. It is probably the weakest, which means that it is merely good and well worth your time if you like gritty thrillers.

The story features Em (Emily), a young wife who has suffered the loss of her daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The death has had a dramatic toll on her marriage and she and her husband have drifted apart. There is no pathetic affair on his part - the marriage just fell apart after their daughter's death. This is King at his best. He creates characters that are believable and situations that command instant sympathy from the reader.

Em deals with her daughter's death by running. She has never been a jogger or a runner but now she runs. She runs with passion, but not out of sport. She runs as if she is punishing herself for the death of her daughter. She runs until she falls down and then she gets up and runs some more. Understandably, her husband is concerned but he deals with her in a way that shows the love is really gone from the marriage so she moves out to her father's vacation home on an island filled with vacation homes off of the coast of Florida. It is an isolated place because it is off season and she runs and runs and runs up and down the beaches until she is finally starting  feel like she has gotten it out of her system.

And, that is when the bad guy steps in. I remember reading an article by Stephen King in which he comments about his short stories. He doesn't plan on them being short, they just turn out that way. The story doesn't expand in his mind like the books do. This story could have expanded quite easily but it would have been fluff that got in the way of the real story.

Em is warned by the friendly drawbridge keeper who operates the only bridge to the island about her neighbor, a wealthy man who has brought a series of  young women to his house over the years but they never are seen again. Supposedly, they all left the island by way of his yacht, but the drawbridge keeper has his doubts.

Within 10 minutes of audio listening, Em encounters her neighbor and anyone can see where it is going to go, which is probably why Stephen King did not even bother to stretch it out into a novel. But, as a short story, it is dramatic, gory, creepy and quite satisfying.

Two time Emmy Award-winning actress Mare Winningham reads the story with a great deal of empathy, which makes the horrific aspects of the second half of the story all the more powerful.

Click here for the link to this audiobook at Amazon.com.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on June 13, 2012.

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