Like many of you, I am deeply embroiled in finishing up papers and assignments and studying for finals. What this means is that I’ve found very little time to read. Due to my deep love of reading, I usually make time. Or put other things off so that I can read instead of checking anything else off my ever growing to-do list. However, I seem to have found a solution.
I love short stories and short stories are a lot shorter than books or novellas. So, if I allow myself to read a short story or two a day, I get my reading fix in and still manage to keep my head above water with my various jobs and school assignments.
That said… this week’s book review will focus on a short story by one of my favorite authors—Stephen King. “The Raft” is found in Stephen King’s book of short stories, “Skeleton Crew.” “The Raft” focuses on four college students: Randy, Deke, Rachel and LaVerne. One crisp October day, the four are in Randy and Deke’s apartment, waxing nostalgia about the rapidly fading summer. Randy and Rachel are remembering a raft that floats out on the lake, and Deke, who is kind of a wild card, decides that all of them should go out to the lake and swim out to the raft. Keep in mind—this is Pennsylvania in October.
LaVerne, who is with Randy but still kind of wants to do dirty things with Deke, immediately agrees. Randy and Rachel are the only two who are apprehensive about it, but Randy agrees so maybe LaVerne will stop looking at Deke like that and thus, Rachel is strong armed into going with them.
Once there, Randy and Deke are the first two in the water, followed extremely hesitantly by LaVerne and Rachel. As Randy is swimming to the raft, he notices what looks like an oil slick. Except it can’t be that. It’s too perfectly circular and pure black.
After reaching the raft, Randy notices that the black circle has halved the distance between its original place and the raft and he is struck with an unexplainable and unrelenting terror. He won’t find out just how apropos his terror is until it’s too late for at least one member of their group.
I won’t say “The Raft” is my favorite King story. I will say that King’s voice is striking and wonderfully present in this story. You get moments of humor, terror and those WTF moments that King is famous for, and it is all nicely woven together in this story.
What I really love about this story is that it immediately sucks you in. You are instantly present in this world. We all know a Deke and a LaVerne and a Rachel, and that’s part of what makes this story so good.
This story’s ability to bring you so completely into its world, makes it the perfect story to read through when you feel like you just can’t study anymore.