Needful Things: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, May 3, 2016 - Fiction - 960 pages
49 Reviews
Master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 New York Times bestseller about a mysterious store than can sell you whatever you desire—but not without exacting a terrible price in return.

“There are two prices for this. Half…and half. One half is cash. The other is a deed. Do you understand?”

The town of Castle Rock, Maine has seen its fair share of oddities over the years, but nothing is a peculiar as the little curio shop that’s just opened for business. Its mysterious proprietor, Leland Gaunt, seems to have something for everyone out on display at Needful Things…interesting items that run the gamut from worthless to priceless. Nothing has a price tag in this place, but everything is certainly for sale. The heart’s desire for any resident of Castle Rock can easily be found among the curiosities…in exchange for a little money and—at the specific request of Leland Gaunt—a whole lot of menace against their fellow neighbors. Everyone in town seems willing to make a deal at Needful Things, but the devil is in the details. And no one takes heed of the little sign hanging on the wall: Caveat emptor. In other words, let the buyer beware…
 

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User Review  - jess_reads_books - LibraryThing

The town of Castle Rock has a new store opening up. Needful Things is the name of the town's newest establishment. What exactly does a store with such a strange name sell? The proprietor, Leland Gaunt ... Read full review

User Review  - nancorn2 - Overstock.com

A very good book. We had been looking all over town and we couldnt find it. So glad I chose to look on here. My son loves his books. This one is no disappointment. Read full review

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About the author (2016)

Needful Things CHAPTER ONE 1
In a small town, the opening of a new store is big news.

It wasn''t as big a deal to Brian Rusk as it was to some; his mother, for instance. He had heard her discussing it (he wasn''t supposed to call it gossiping, she had told him, because gossiping was a dirty habit and she didn''t do it) at some length on the telephone with her best friend, Myra Evans, over the last month or so. The first workmen had arrived at the old building which had last housed Western Maine Realty and Insurance right around the time school let in again, and they had been busily at work ever since. Not that anyone had much idea what they were up to in there; their first act had been to put in a large display window, and their second had been to soap it opaque.

Two weeks ago a sign had appeared in the doorway, hung on a string over a plastic see-through suction-cup.

OPENING SOON!

the sign read.

NEEDFUL THINGS

A NEW KIND OF STORE

"You won''t believe your eyes!"

"It''ll be just another antique shop," Brian''s mother said to Myra. Cora Rusk had been reclining on the sofa at the time, holding the telephone with one hand and eating chocolate-covered cherries with the other while she watched Santa Barbara on the TV. "Just another antique shop with a lot of phony early American furniture and moldy old crank telephones. You wait and see."

That had been shortly after the new display window had been first installed and then soaped over, and his mother spoke with such assurance that Brian should have felt sure the subject was closed. Only with his mother, no subject ever seemed to be completely closed. Her speculations and suppositions seemed as endless as the problems of the characters on Santa Barbara and General Hospital.

Last week the first line of the sign hanging in the door was changed to read:

GRAND OPENING OCTOBER 9TH--BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

Brian was not as interested in the new store as his mother (and some of the teachers; he had heard them talking about it in the teachers'' room at Castle Rock Middle School when it was his turn to be Office Mailman), but he was eleven, and a healthy eleven-year-old boy is interested in anything new. Besides, the name of the place fascinated him. Needful Things: what, exactly, did that mean?

He had read the changed first line last Tuesday, on his way home from school. Tuesday afternoons were his late days. Brian had been born with a harelip, and although it had been surgically corrected when he was seven, he still had to go to speech therapy. He maintained stoutly to everyone who asked that he hated this, but he did not. He was deeply and hopelessly in love with Miss Ratcliffe, and he waited all week for his special ed class to come around. The Tuesday schoolday seemed to last a thousand years, and he always spent the last two hours of it with pleasant butterflies in his stomach.

There were only four other kids in the class, and none of them came from Brian''s end of town. He was glad. After an hour in the same room with Miss Ratcliffe, he felt too exalted for company. He liked to make his way home slowly in the late afternoon, usually pushing his bike instead of riding it, dreaming of her as yellow and gold leaves fell around him in the slanting bars of October sunlight.

His way took him along the three-block section of Main Street across from the Town Common, and on the day he saw the sign announcing the grand opening, he had pushed his nose up to the glass of the door, hoping to see what had replaced the stodgy desks and industrial yellow walls of the departed Western Maine Realtors and Insurance Agents. His curiosity was defeated. A shade had been installed and was pulled all the way down. Brian saw nothing but his own reflected face and cupped hands.

On Friday the 4th, there had been an ad for the new store in Castle Rock''s weekly newspaper, the Call. It was surrounded by a ruffled border, and below the printed matter was a drawing of angels standing back to back and blowing long trumpets. The ad really said nothing that could not be read on the sign dangling from the suction cup: the name of the store was Needful Things, it would open for business at ten o''clock in the morning on October 9th, and, of course, "You won''t believe your eyes." There was not the slightest hint of what goods the proprietor or proprietors of Needful Things intended to dispense.

This seemed to irritate Cora Rusk a great deal--enough, anyway, for her to put in a rare Saturday-morning call to Myra.

"I''ll believe my eyes, all right," she said. "When I see those spool beds that are supposed to be two hundred years old but have Rochester, New York, stamped on the frames for anybody who cares to bend down their heads and look under the bedspread flounces to see, I''ll believe my eyes just fine."

Myra said something. Cora listened, fishing Planter''s Peanuts out of the can by ones and twos and munching them rapidly. Brian and his little brother, Sean, sat on the living-room floor watching cartoons on TV. Sean was completely immersed in the world of the Smurfs, and Brian was not totally uninvolved with that community of small blue people, but he kept one ear cocked toward the conversation.

"Ri-iiight!" Cora Rusk had exclaimed with even more assurance and emphasis than usual as Myra made some particularly trenchant point. "High prices and moldy antique telephones!"

Yesterday, Monday, Brian had ridden through downtown right after school with two or three friends. They were across the street from the new shop, and he saw that during the day someone had put up a dark-green awning. Written across the front in white letters were the words NEEDFUL THINGS. Polly Chalmers, the lady who ran the sewing shop, was standing out on the sidewalk, hands on her admirably slim hips, looking at the awning with an expression that seemed to be equally puzzled and admiring.

Brian, who knew a bit about awnings, admired it himself. It was the only real awning on Main Street, and it gave the new store its own special look. The word "sophisticated" was not a part of his working vocabulary, but he knew at once there was no other shop in Castle Rock which looked like this. The awning made it look like a store you might see in a television show. The Western Auto across the street looked dowdy and countrified by comparison.

When he got home, his mother was on the sofa, watching Santa Barbara, eating a Little Debbie Creme Pie, and drinking Diet Coke. His mother always drank diet soda while she watched the afternoon shows. Brian was not sure why, considering what she was using it to wash down, but thought it would probably be dangerous to ask. It might even get her shouting at him, and when his mother started shouting, it was wise to seek shelter.

"Hey, Ma!" he said, throwing his books on the counter and getting the milk out of the refrigerator. "Guess what? There''s an awnin on the new store."

"Who''s yawning?" Her voice drifted out of the living room.

He poured his milk and came into the doorway. "Awning," he said. "On the new store downstreet."

She sat up, found the remote control, and pushed the mute button. On the screen, Al and Corinne went on talking over their Santa Barbara problems in their favorite Santa Barbara restaurant, but now only a lip-reader could have told exactly what those problems were. "What?" she said. "That Needful Things place?"

"Uh-huh," he said, and drank some milk.

"Don''t slurp," she said, tucking the rest of her snack into her mouth. "It sounds gruesome. How many times have I told you that?"

About as many times as you''ve told me not to talk with my mouth full, Brian thought, but said nothing. He had learned verbal restraint at an early age.

"Sorry, Mom."

"What kind of awning?"

"Green one."

"Pressed or aluminum?"

Brian, whose father was a siding salesman for the Dick Perry Siding and Door Company in South Paris, knew exactly what she was talking about, but if it had been that kind of awning, he hardly would have noticed it. Aluminum and pressed-metal awnings were a dime a dozen. Half the homes in The Rock had them sticking out over their windows.

"Neither one," he said. "It''s cloth. Canvas, I think. It sticks out, so there''s shade right underneath. And it''s round, like this." He curved his hands (carefully, so as not to spill his milk) in a semi-circle. "The name is printed on the end. It''s most sincerely awesome."

"Well, I''ll be butched!"

This was the phrase with which Cora most commonly expressed excitement or exasperation. Brian took a cautious step backward, in case it should be the latter.

"What do you think it is, Ma? A restaurant, maybe?"

"I don''t know," she said, and reached for the Princess phone on the endtable. She had to move Squeebles the cat, the TV Guide, and a quart of Diet Coke to get it. "But it sounds sneaky."

"Mom, what does Needful Things mean? Is it like--"

"Don''t bother me now, Brian, Mummy''s busy. There are Devil Dogs in the breadbox if you want one. Just one, though, or you''ll spoil your supper." She was already dialling Myra, and they were soon discussing the green awning with great enthusiasm.

Brian, who didn''t want a Devi

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