There are two general points about this collection, and they are features of King's writing in general. Firstly it has become quite an idiosyncrasy of King's work that many characters borrow characteristics from the writer. Among the characters in this series are an embarrassing drunkard, a bookish misanthrope, and a middle-brow writer almost killed on a backroad in Maine by a redneck in a van. Secondly this series dramatises the experience of stress splitting off parts of the core personality. These alter-egos are either recognised for what they are, by the more intelligent characters, or taken as ghosts and demons by the less insightful characters. The device was very well handled in these stories.
Oh, I thought of another overarching point. The stories in this series do not always portray women as sympathetic or good, but they are all informed by an understanding of violence against women, and how social conventions and prejudices limit women's choices and render them unprotected. I think there is one major mis-step in one of the stories, where the revelation that a person is evil coincides with the discovery that she is a lesbian. My guess - because I know King has liberal values - is that he would say 'well, anyone can be evil' and that's kind of the point. But I think it was mishandled and came across as gratuitous. I don't think it's homophobic but I think it was clumsy.
The four stories are:
1922: This is inspired by the brilliant Wisconsin Death Trip. It's about a farmhouse killing in rural Nebraska. I think in places it goes too lurid and overboard, but I only say that because the rest of it is so accomplished. I think he should have been confident enough in the story to do without some of the embellishments.
Big Driver: This is a story about a brutal rape of a woman and how she deals with it. I found it a hard read, but it is a well written and uncompromising look at violence against women. I think this could only work as prose, with the woman as the point of view subject, and not an object of the external gaze as she would be in a film, even a well-intentioned film.
Fair Extension: This actually doesn't fit in that well with the rest of the collection. It's about a man's bargain with Satan. It seems undeveloped to me. Least successful of the four, though perhaps its unsatisfactory nature is in some way the point? What redeemed it for me was the very funny energetic reading, which was full of a kind of wounded self-righteous selfishness which reminded me of George W Bush.
A Good Marriage: Inspired by the BTK killer. A wife discovers her mild mannered husband is a serial killer. Another successful exploration of a woman's subjective experience. This woman is a bit of a drip, which I guess is the point. The writing was effective and the forward-push of the plot was compelling.