What’s Here There Be Tygers all about?:
Here There Be Tygers was first published in 1968 in the Spring issue of Ubris magazine, and then appeared in King’s Skeleton Crew collection in 1985. It is a short story about a young boy who is desperate to go to the bathroom but is too terrified of his teacher to ask. When he eventually gets to go, he believes there is a tiger lurking there.
What did I think?:
Shock horror – I finally have something negative to say about Stephen King’s work! Regular readers of my blog will know that I am an avid King reader/fan, so to have something he wrote that I’m not that enthusiastic about is extraordinary to say the least. The first story in this collection is The Mist which I reviewed a few months back now, so coming to this incredibly short story is a bit of a shock to the system. It’s very short. As a result, it doesn’t really leave room for much of a plot or a character development so King has to give everything to the reader in just a few pages. Basically, as mentioned above, a young boy is desperate to go to the bathroom while in class, but has a sadistic teacher who likes to mock what should be a normal bodily function, makes it very difficult for him to go until he states that he actually does indeed need to “urinate.” To the boy’s horror as he enters the bathroom (which is in the basement, very King-esque and creepy) there is a tiger there who makes it clear to him that if he attempted to “urinate,” he would tear him to shreds. Eventually, another classmate and then the teacher herself turns up wondering what is taking him so long and the boy walks back to his class a lot more relaxed and relieved (probably physically and mentally!) than previously. You can probably guess why.
This isn’t a bad story, it’s just nowhere near how good I know King can write, but I should cut him a bit of slack, this was said to be one of the first stories he ever wrote, whilst in high school. A lot of people have wondered at a deeper meaning or symbolism in the writing, but personally, I don’t think there was too much hidden from us, what you see is what you get. I believe the tiger is somewhat symbolic of the teacher herself preventing her young charge from going to the bathroom and at the end, the boy is obviously physically relieved but it also seems that his emotional problems and fear in that department have come to an end. The title of the story comes from the phrase “Here there be dragons,” used by medieval cartographers which was used as a warning for the unexplored places on a map. It is an okay story in general, but should definitely not be used as an introduction to King’s work!
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Sister Hills by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank