While Stephen King is no stranger to narrating his own fiction in audio format, this is the first time that he has released some of his work exclusively in audio format. Reportedly King enjoyed recording the audio book format of Bag of Bones so much that he decided to release Blood and Smoke in audio form only.
Blood and Smoke is comprised of three stories, “In the Deathroom,” “1408,” and “Lunch at the Gotham Café.” All three stories are bound by one common thread: they all, in some form or fashion, relate to smoking. This isn’t the first time that King has focused on the habit of smoking. His short story, “Quitters, Inc.,” found in the collection, Night Shift, also focused on the habit of smoking and the ability that smokers were given by the nicotine in their blood stream to see demons in human clothing.
Only one of the stories in Blood and Smoke, “Lunch at the Gotham Café,” was previously published before its inclusion in the audio book.“1408” and “In the Deathroom” were written specifically for the audio book and, as such, lend themselves well to the format. “Lunch at the Gotham Café” is eerily reminiscent of the Rod Serling stories from the classic Twilight Zone series. Meeting with his wife and her lawyer to finalize his divorce, Steve Davis soon realizes that something is askew at the Gotham Café where he is to meet his wife. Of course, if he wasn’t right, this wouldn’t be a true Stephen King tale.
“1408” harkens to King’s classic, The Shining, as the protagonist, writer Mike Enslin, braves the night in the supposedly haunted hotel room, number 1408, of the Dolphin Hotel. Discovering the room is notorious for suicides, Enslin is undeterred by the stories of ghosts and the unlucky circumstances of those who are assigned the room.
The final story, “In the Deathroom,” is a lesson in torture. Not only that of the lead character, Fletcher, who undergoes the torture of his antagonists, but also that of the listener as they hang on to King’s words as Fletcher drags on his last cigarette. The stories in Blood and Smoke represent King at his best, driving his characters into the unthinkable realms of darkness, and his listeners into a sort of torture of their own.
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