There’s a great metaphor woven through Stephen King’s “The Outsider”: the cut-open cantaloupe that’s filled with maggots.
It’s a clever metaphor for the novel’s titular Outsider, a metaphor he extends to a ghoulish conclusion in the book’s last act.
But in its less on-the-nose way, it’s about the unknowability of other people. The potential for the people we know and care about to carry something dark in them. The potential for them to bring that darkness into our lives.
He’s always at his best when he’s writing about the horror of other people. It’s my favorite Stephen King mode.