“The Salmon of Doubt”

Salmon of Doubt

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

A posthumous collection of essays, interviews, speeches, short and unfinished fiction by Douglas Adams, released in 2002. I read a Dell Rey paperback edition.

4 out of 5 stars.

The longest piece – and focus – of this collection is the unfinished Dirk Gently project “The Salmon of Doubt.” Ultimately, that’s the least interesting thing here – and that’s not a knock against the story. Reading Douglas Adams charmingly muse about his nose, manta rays, atheism, and technology is the real treat, reminiscent of Richard Feynman’s memoirs (some of the most delightful books I’ve ever read).

Most of what I quote will not have the essay/story name attached. Many of the segments in The Salmon of Doubt don’t have proper titles and it’s not essential to know where the quote comes from to understand the worth of it (or my questions). Continue reading

Stephen King Top 10 Novels

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[Explanation of Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction



10. 11/22/63 (2011)

4 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 1

Seen the Mini-Series: No.

The Plot:

Jake Epping has the chance to go back in time and stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Problem is, he has to start at 1958 and live out the five years leading up to it.

11/22/63 is the only book in my Top 10 that I’ve only read once. I don’t feel a pressing need to go back but I was impressed on my first readthrough. The concept alone is intriguing enough to draw me in (time traveling that is limited to one point in time) but I also spent years studying the Kennedy assassination and wanted to see how King handled the events. He does an excellent job combining historical elements and his fictional characters and I admire him for sticking with the Oswald-acted-alone narrative.


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Stephen King Top 10 Movie/TV adaptations

[Explanation of Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction

As I mentioned in the Introduction to this week, I’m not a completionist when it comes to King adaptations. I followed them until the early 2000s, then fell off the train. I enjoy most of these movies for nostalgic reasons – only the top slot would I argue the artistic merit of.

(I don’t know why I’m being coy. You already know what #1 is.)

Rose Red

10. Rose Red (2002 mini-series)

3 out of 5 stars.

Homage to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Matheson’s Hell House with cheesy effects and predictable steps, but psychics-going-into-a-haunted house is a genre I love and Rose Red does a perfectly fine job of it. It’s an enjoyable afternoon-on-the-couch miniseries with a decent cast. We’ve got Julian Sands, Melanie Lynskey, Emily Deschanel, and Nancy Travis on board. I haven’t seen it in years but I remember liking Jimmi Simpson as the campus newspaper reporter.

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Best Stephen King Short Stories/Novellas #6 – 1

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction

#20 – 15

#14 – 10

#9 – 7



from The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015). Originally published in The New Yorker (November 9, 2009).

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

An arguing couple stops at a gas station. Only one makes it back to the car.

If you’ve never read “Premium Harmony,” please do so now. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s first time.

[108] From King’s introduction to the story:

The humor here is black, but in my opinion, that’s often the best kind. Because – dig it – when it comes to death, what can you do but laugh?


King taps into something through much of Bazaar that makes it his most upsetting, genuinely disturbing collection. Not the supernatural, the bizarre, or grotesque, but mundane, natural death. Situations, like the one in “Premium Harmony” can’t be brushed aside after you finish the story because it didn’t occur in a fantasy dimension but firmly in this one. The one where you will also someday die, maybe as you’re walking through a store or taking a nap or making coffee.

Another story in Bazaar, “Under the Weather,” (which came very close to making this list), works as a companion piece to “Premium Harmony.” But PH is tighter, more upsetting (the end is shocking and terrible) while in “Under the Weather” we’re ahead of the narrator the whole time, waiting for him to get hip to the situation. Continue reading

Best Stephen King Short Stories/Novellas #9 – 7

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction

#20 – 15

#14 – 10



from Night Shift (1978). Previously unpublished.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

A man makes a final decision for his terminally ill mother.

Real-life horror, not speculative. King’s mother died of cancer and I’m going to quietly assume “The Woman in the Room” has autobiographical roots. I also assume anyone who’s watched a loved one die a slow hospital death is going to be hit hard by this one.


He can trace the course of her illness through the medicines.



At times, when he visited, she cried without knowing it.

(p.486) Continue reading

Best Stephen King Short Stories/Novellas #14 – 10

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction

#20 – 15



from Skeleton Crew (1985). Originally published in Gallery (November 1982).

4 out of 5 stars. 

Previously reviewed. (In fact, my first post here.)

The Plot:

A carnivorous oil slick traps four college students on a lake raft.


He called out, “Get away from there, Rachel!”

Then everything happened very fast.

(p.287) Continue reading

Best Stephen King Short Stories/Novellas #20 – 15

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Stephen King Week Introduction

For this Top 20, I re-read the collections:

Night Shift (1978)

Different Seasons (1982)

Skeleton Crew (1985)

Four Past Midnight (1990)

Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993)

Hearts in Atlantis (1999)

Everything’s Eventual (2002)

Just After Sunset (2008)

Full Dark, No Stars (2010)

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)

We’ll start at 20 and count our way down to the best:

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Stephen King Week

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To celebrate Stephen King’s 70th birthday on the 21st (and because I’ve been wanting to do this forever), we’re going to spend the week on King lists.

Best Short Stories/Novellas #20 – 15 (notes/reviews)

Best Short Stories/Novellas #14 – 10 (notes/reviews)

Best Short Stories/Novellas #9 – 7 (notes/reviews)

Best Short Stories/Novellas #6 – 1 (notes/reviews)

Top 10 Novels (list)

Top 10 Movie/Television Adaptations (list)

My Stephen King credentials:

I’ve been reading Stephen King for over twenty years. The only major works I’ve missed are Rose Madder (I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it), Black House (I… might not get to it), and Faithful (a non-fiction book about baseball).

I’m not as adamant about watching King film adaptations, so that Top 10 list is coming from the perspective of someone who hasn’t kept up since the early 2000s.

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“Theophilus North” (Post 4/4)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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Post 2

Post 3


Sixty seconds of silence on the stage is a long time.


[123] References:

I may not have galvanic hands but I can put on a galvanic performance. This time I chose as my model that of Otis Skinner in The Honor of the Family, after Balzac’s story. (…)

I was all assurance to the degree of effrontery – Colonel Philippe Bridau.



American actor Otis Skinner (1858 – 1942) was lauded for playing the comic villain Colonel Phillipe Bridau in The Honor of the Family, based on Balzac’s novel La Rabouilleuse (1842) and adapted for the stage in 1903 by French dramatist Emile Fabre. The play opened on Broadway in 1908. (Notes, p.785) Continue reading

“Theophilus North” (Post 3/4)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

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Post 4


“Dear Eloise, if you see that Charles is cutting his way out of that spider’s web a little, you can tell yourself that it’s all due to you.” She looked at me in wonder. “Because when you love someone you communicate your love of life; you keep the faith; you scare away dragons.”


[73] Translate:

Vous me faites ch–!’ That’s a very vulgar expression; it’s far worse than saying ‘You make me vomit.’ ”


Vous me faites is, in French “You make me sick.”

According to Matthew Kushinka’s December 2016 article “French Curse Words: The Damn Near Complete Guide” on Red Line Language Services:

[ca me] fait chier

Literally “That makes me shit” (…) French speakers often shorten the entire phrase (…) to simply Fait chier! (…)

So what does it mean? It’s an expression of annoyance, akin to “What a pain in the ass!” or “This sucks!”

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