Monday, March 2, 2015

New Story Out Now -- "A Death"

Howdy, y'all.
The blog is still on hiatus, but I am taking an ever-so-brief break to bring to your attention "A Death."  "A Death," evidently, is a brand-new short story which appear in the March 9 issue of The New Yorker.
However, it's available online for free right now:

There is also a brief interview with King about the story:

I had not heard of this at all until it popped up in my Google Alerts email.  And so, of course, I pass the knowledge on to you.  Do with it as you will!
See you soon, I hope!


  1. I finally made time to read this tonight. Good story; not up there with some of his best recent ones, in my opinion, but definitely good.

  2. A lot of the time I hold off on these because I want the collections to be completely fresh when they come out, but since there's very little chance this will end up Bazaar of Bad Dreams, I went ahead and used it to improve a bad day a little. It's good, with a nice solid ending, but what excites me most about it is that it's part of King's recent detours to other genres. He's always bent them, but I feel like lately we've seen him do more historical fiction ("1922," for one, but also 11/22/63 and a little bit of Joyland) and crime, and I think it really adds a lot of freshness. I'm happy to read King doing work he feels is tried-and-true, but these stretches are really interesting to me, and I think they're reinvigorating for him, too, judging by how flat-out great some of them have been.

    1. Not only is there a chance it'll be in "Bazaar," but King has actually confirmed that it will be!

      Like you, I appreciated the fact that this was a detour into a genre King doesn't often explore. But what I found myself getting most excited about was the fact that there was -- unless I blinked and missed it (always possible) -- seemingly no effort to connect the story to the King Mythos. I love that so many of his stories are interconnected but I also love when he does a standalone tale.

      I'm finding that this one is really sticking with me; I think I might have been a bit hasty in saying that it's not quite on the level with some of his other recent short stories.

  3. Serves me right for guessing! Well, it's a great story, and one I won't mind reading again very soon.

    I agree about the connections: it really is a breath of fresh air to occasionally have a story without them. A Dark Tower reference can effortlessly add a feeling of tremendous significance (and, as we already talked about, I did find that they enhanced my reading of Revival, or at least made its discrepancies with King's other works less jarring) and the intricate web of connections can be fun to parse from a Constant Reader perspective, but on the other hand, I really wish I could put Hearts in Atlantis in someone's hands and tell them to read it without having to contextualize so much about the Tower. It's so great at characterization and evoking a sixties atmosphere, and it has a literary weight to it, but a great whack of "Low Men in Yellow Coats" seems perfunctory and poorly explained if you don't already get it, and that kind of (to borrow from the sixties) bums me out, man. It's nice to see things like Joyland and Duma Key effectively making up their own meanings and standing on their own two feet. (Of course, Joyland does show up in Revival, so if you count retrospectively...)

    On the other hand, I love the unsettling throwaway revelation in Bag of Bones that Thad Beaumont had committed suicide--if you don't know, it's just background atmosphere, but if you know who he is, it completes The Dark Half in a terrible but necessary way with a little acknowledgment that even getting out (temporarily) alive doesn't mean you'll be able to deal with things later. But as a rule of thumb--and I'm already thinking of exceptions--I'd say that the references enhance the overall feeling of the universe but sometimes poorly serve the works on an individual level, and so they're often best kept small and unnoticeable to the casual reader. I like them as Easter eggs, and occasionally (Insomnia, in particular) as main courses, but it's still great to see stories set in--and making--their own universes, instead of borrowing from one.

    1. Yeah, that bit in "Bag of Bones" is great. Overall, I think the interconnectivity works much more frequently than it fails. Having Richie and Bev pop up in "11/22/63," for example, or the reporter in "The Dead Zone" later getting his own short story.

      But it does tend to cripple certain works to a certain extent, and I think you're dead on the money in listing "Hearts in Atlantis" as one of them. All of that stuff works for me, because I know what it all means; but it seems like it probably would interfere with King newbies being able to engage with the book.

  4. Although King is my favorite author, westerns are my favorite genre. At least as far as movies and TV is concerned. As much as I love the old tropes about shootouts, train robberies, quickdraws, etc. it's always nice to see or read something that subverts those stereotypes. King does that admirably here. I wad reminded of this story and "Herman Wouk is Still Alive" again today while watching last year's "The Homesman," written, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones. It's another very atypical western tale and one that felt like it could have been a Stephen King story in many ways. I definitely can recommend it to anybody who enjoyed this story, but don't expect Rio Bravo or even Unforgiven. This one is startlingly different from any western I've seen.

    King clearly has an interest in westerns, given this story, The Dark Tower, and other assorted references throughout his work. And we know he once began writing a western novel. Do you think there's a chance we'll ever see him publish a full western novel? I wondered for years if all of his references to various crime writers would eventually lead to a major work in that genre and it turns out that it did.

    1. I would LOVE to see King write a legit Western. "The Gunslinger" arguably IS that, of course, but you know what I mean.

      I'd love to see King write anything, though, really. You name it -- there's no genre to which I would not follow him. And his interests are so varied that you never know what he might pop out one of these days.

      I wanted to see "The Homesman" but have not yet managed to do so. "Lonesome Dove" is one of my all-time favorite movies (I'm counting it as a movie rather than as a miniseries), so any time TLJ shows up in a Western it has my interest.

    2. Yeah, I can't really imagine King writing a book that I wouldn't read. I read Faithful even though I've always found baseball a bit dull. With that said, I wouldn't mind if he never tried his hand at pure sci-fi again. The Jaunt and Beachworld are near the very bottom of my list of short stories and The Tommyknockers is my least favorite novel. Then again, I suppose The Running Man could be considered sci-fi and I love it.

      What I WOULD love to see happen (in addition to a western and a third book in the Jack Sawyer series of course) is a book of new stories from the club featured in "The Breathing Method" and "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands." I picture it as being similar to The Gunslinger or Hearts in Atlantis in structure. I doubt it ever happens, but I would have loved for King to have kept writing about them occasionally over the years. It would have been like Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories, only horror stories rather than mysteries.

    3. I second that! I adore "The Breathing Method."

      If you think about, King has actually written a LOT of stuff that can be classified as sci-fi. Early stuff like "Carrie," "Firestarter," "The Stand," and "The Mist" -- later stuff like "11/22/63" and "Revival" -- and, heck, the entire "Dark Tower" saga by implication. He's obviously not writing hard sci-fi like Clarke or Asimov, but he's certainly using tropes of the genre to good effect.

    4. Going off-top here, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like the older short stories should be collected in their own book rather than inserted into a future collection. It doesn't have to be a high-profile release. A slim paperback would do just fine. And, if he wishes, all of the money could go to charity as it did with Blaze. And, unless "Squad D" or something were to be included, it's not as if anything that would be collected hasn't already been published under his own name at some point.

      My ideal table of contents for this hypothetical collection:

      The Crate
      The Dark Man
      The Old Dude's Ticker
      The Night of the Tiger
      The Glass Floor
      Man with a Belly
      The Blue Air Compressor
      The Reploids

      Maybe it can be fleshed out with Squad D, a few more of the early poems or some non-fiction pieces that fit with the era most of these stories come from (in subject, not chronologically). Cone Head certainly fits; I haven't read The Ring, but it sounds like it could as well. Possibly even earlier stories like "I was a Teenage Graverobber" or I've Got to Get Away, which he did allow to be published as The Killer in 1994. Maybe even Stud City or The Revenge of Lard Ass Hogan.

      Not a long collection. Perhaps 200 pages at the most with an introduction included, around the size of The Colorado Kid.

    5. Well, I'd certainly buy a copy. There is plenty of non-fiction that could be included along with the pieces you mention, but I suspect that such a volume will never appear during King's lifetime. His interest in collecting such ephemera seem marginal.

    6. Maybe, but look at Blaze and The Cat from Hell... I don't know if he's ever mentioned any of them specifically, but I suspect that at least in the case of The Crate, Weeds, Night of the Tiger, The Reploids, probably The Dark Man and possibly even The Glass Floor, the stories haven't been collected not because he thinks they're bad, but simply because they didn't really fit in any of his previous collections. Creepshow may also have a lot to do with The Crate and Weeds being excluded. Those two stories won't exactly be "new" to a lot of people reading them in a collection, although that would probably be much less of a problem now than it was for Skeleton Crew or even Nightmares & Dreamscapes.

      As for non-fiction, I have to admit that there's a lot of it I haven't read. I've read the books, the Pop of King columns, Head Down, Cone Head, Guns, and a few reviews from the New York Times and introductions to other books. The ones I'm really hoping to read someday in particular are Leaf-Peepers, The Ring and My High School Horrors. Have you read those pieces and if so do you think they're worth tracking down on eBay or Amazon?

    7. I have read two of those; never been able to find "My High-School Horrors." Both "Leaf-Peepers" and "The Ring" are very good, but also (especially "The Ring") very short. So if you can find super-cheap copies, they are certainly worth having; but if you have to spend more than a couple of bucks, then it becomes iffier. Of course, your own level of fandom will dictate whether it's worth it to you personally; for me, it almost always is, unless I've got to spend beyond $10 or so.