Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Drunken Fireworks is a flamboyant, but underwhelming, entry in the Stephen King oeuvre. The title says it all: this is a short story about a "Fourth of July Arms Race," told from the perspective of a chronically inebriated alcoholic with a competitive streak. The writing is conversational and free-flowing, with plenty of amusing one-liner quips; however, there isn't much "meat" to the story beyond that. Besides the rambling protagonist (a drunken nouveau riche man named Alden McCausland), the characters are mostly one-dimensional - though a Native American fireworks dealer does provide some commentary on racism, reminding the narrator that "we're all Americans," regardless of racial or ethnic background. Nearly every other character in the story is a cardboard cutout of a figure: flammable, disposable, and forgettable.
While I appreciated the enthusiastic audiobook performance of Tim Sample, his thick New England accent (amplified by the protagonist's slurred intoxication) is insufferable and nearly indecipherable at times. I almost always enjoy Stephen King's attempts at non-supernatural storytelling, but I'm disappointed in this piece. In this case, King is more concerned with style over substance. Perhaps fewer substances (get it?) would make this a more appealing work.
Though I love Stephen King, this is one of the less-impressive entries I've read from him. Alas, Drunken Fireworks does not have much to offer its audience beyond a quick, combustible flash in the sky.
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Mild-mannered librarian by day… and a mild-mannered rock & roller by night.