Daniel Santos

If It Bleeds

Com sangue, the Brazilian Portuguese version of “If it bleeds” is the latest book I’ve finished this year — the second in my goal of 20. This is a book composed of four novellas, all of them new material from Stephen King’s mind, who published the book in 2019.

I liked three of them very much: The one giving the book its title, “If it bleeds”, is a new (solo) Holly Gibney adventure, after “The Outsider”, that I needed to read before “Holly”, Stephen King’s latest novel as I write this — that, by the way, I had already started reading without being aware that “If it bleeds” existed.

So when I knew about that particular novella, I (temporarily) stopped reading “Holly” so I could read her series in the proper order, giving me a complete, sequential idea of the characters' development. In the end, the novella proved amazing and didn’t disappoint me even for a second. I love Holly and her stories, so much so that I share Mr. King’s vision of her:

I love Holly. It’s that simple. She should have been a small character in Mr. Mercedes, just make a quirky cameo. But she stole my heart (and almost stole the book). I’m always curious to know what she’s doing and how she’s living. When I get back to her, I’m relieved to see that she’s still taking the Lexapro and still not smoking. I was also curious, to be honest, about the circumstances that made her what she is, and I thought I’d explore that a little more… — Stephen King, from the author notes at the end of “If it bleeds” book.

But I said I liked three of the four novellas. “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, the first story in the book, was very nice. It tells the story of a professional relationship between a boy and a retired billionaire, to whom he starts reading as the old man’s sight starts decaying. They develop a friendship which evolves many ways, even supernaturally. A side note on this story is that once I finished the novella I decided to watch Mr. Harrigan’s Phone movie version, out on Netflix. In this case, I found it… OK. I’m the kind of person who believes movies never make it better than their written, wordy, counterparts. Not to mention that they always have to adapt things here and there, and it ends up diverting from the original story.

“Rat” is the last story in the book — and the third out of three that I liked. It tells the story of an academic and writer who, despite having published several short stories during his career, has never been able to complete a full sized novel. In the book’s notes at the end, Stephen King calls this novella an evil fairy tale, where he could write a little about the mysteries of the imagination and how that translates to the page of a writer. From all the four novellas this was the darker one, indeed.

The one story I didn’t like, “Chuck’s Life”, was very bad. It’s told in three acts, chronologically reversed, and tells the story of Chuck and a disease that will end his life after only 39 years, making him die young. I got lost during the chronology, and couldn’t quite get the grip of how the parts, or acts, composed the final puzzle and that’s why I didn’t like it. I guess one can never hope every book is fine, even if it is from one of their favorite authors.

That’s ok. 75% of the book was fine — and Stephen King’s got enough credit with me for a story that is worse than his average once in a while. I’d still recommend the book overall, though.

#books #english #reading