Review: Drunken Fireworks

drunken-fireworks-9781442389656_hrBy Stephen King, read by Tim Sample

A rivalry over July 4th fireworks starts to get seriously out of hand…

This short story, which will feature in King’s new collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams later this year, is currently only available on audio original – just as Blood & Smoke was a few years ago. Those three tales were read by King himself, but Drunken Fireworks is performed by Tim Sample, whose distinctive Maine accent really helps to bring the story to life.

The vast majority of the story is the statement being given by Alden McCausland following an incident on July 4, 2015 (which gave listening to it this past weekend a certain aptness!). He and his mother are determined that they’re not going to be outshone by the moneyed and “Connected” family across the water, and each year the fireworks each side put up get bigger and bigger – and, as in any escalation of firepower, things seem to take on a life of their own.

If you’ve read Dolores Claiborne, you’ll know the sort of thing to expect from King writing a “police statement” – digressions, comments to the attending officers, the occasional out of place piece of humour and un-politically correct aside – and the master delivers. Given that there are a couple of audio elements to the tale, I wonder if King devised this with the vocal performance in mind – although the reader will understand what’s being described in cold print, Sample’s reading adds an extra dimension that increases the annoyance factor of at least one of them.

Drunken Fireworks is not one of King’s out and out horror tales; like some of his other recent work, it’s more about the nature of obsession. There are twists aplenty, and it will increase your anticipation for the other stories in the new collection.

Verdict: A keenly-observed tale of obsession and escalation. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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