Thursday, November 05, 2009

Story time

I read Stephen King's "Premium Harmony" at the New Yorker magazine here (free to read, so go ahead, click). I discovered the story at a time when I'm having a short story renaissance. I used to love short stories -- reading and writing them -- and then I got derailed by the idea of novels and longer stories and it's been years since I've written a short story of any merit. The Stephen King story, however, has merit.

For a short story, King has managed to infuse his characters with, well, a lot of character. The conversation -- rapid fire, not bogged down with unnecessary details or action 'moments' -- sketches out the characters well. There are snatches of humor here and there, moments of poignancy, and above all, illumination of character -- something incredibly hard to do in the space of a short story. The interesting thing here is that King doesn't bother making his characters likeable; in fact, he puts so much effort in making them unlikeable, and yet, still very realistic. King also managed to draw all the little threads, all the little details, together in the final graf, which was excellent. He followed the old adage to a t: if there is a gun over the fireplace in the first act, it should be fired by the third.

While I enjoyed the story, I did find it a bit... outlandish, out of the realm of reality at moments. But it wasn't so much that I was distracted and tempted to hit the back button (and all you internet fiction readers know about the back button!).

All in all, an enjoyable story, well written, a bit on the quirky side, but if you're looking for a quick read over lunch, I recommend Premium Harmony.

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