Re: Premium Harmony - by Stephen King - a short story discussion
I read this story and the one posted at the same time, "The Hunter's Wife" by Anthony Doerr. I thought I'd do a little comparison.
This is a Stephen King story. I've read some that I like and some that I don't. I have no feelings one way or the other on this one. It's a Stephen King story. I read a while back that his estimated wealth had reached a billion dollars. He's the first writer in history to reach that mark while still living. Picasso was the first artist and Madonna the first musician to do it, according to what I read.
Anyway, this story is a string of choppy little declarative sentences. Lots of periods on the page, which made me think of blackheads. Which made me think of King's target audience. It used to be teenagers and now I guess the audience is teenagers all growed up. The main character in this story has the emotional level of a teenager, not much empathy, not much in his mind except fulfilling his immediate needs. He's not likable, and I can't see why King felt compelled to write the piece, unless he's just trying to fill up his Castle Rock setting with warm bodies. Or in the case of the wife here, a cold body. Yes, someone dies; it's a Stephen King story. I've always felt that King doesn't like his characters very much, but then what do I know? He's the billionaire, not me. And this story was in the New Yorker, so the lesson that I take away from this is that blackhead prose pays.
The other story, "The Hunter's Wife," had more depth--bottomless depth compared to King's wading pool. Both stories are about married couples, but the other writer, Anthony Doerr, examines the relationship fully. He packed quite a bit of history into the piece. He also took the reader to a place that's pretty exotic, the north country during bone-freezing winter. That's exotic to me at least, subtropical and glad to be. King's story was about a trip to the box store but Doerr's covers decades in a complex relationship. And one of the premises behind the story, that the wife can commune with dead animals, is probably as spooky as anything that King ever devised. Plus, Doerr's writing is more full-bodied. He's not afraid to use a comma and at times the prose is very lyrical. And where King ends his story with a dead wife going to the morgue and a dead dog in the back of a car, Doerr ends his with the possibility of understanding and reconciliation between the husband and wife.
Is Doerr a known writer? I didn't think to check before I started writing this...hold on. Oh. The Pulitzer Prize. And I call myself a reader. Is there a smilie for...oh, yeah.
I didn't mean to offend any King fans. I quit reading his stuff after he wrote about the car that was possessed. I remember thinking I could've read Steinbeck instead. I've only read a few King stories since. I'll check into Doerr's writing now. Thanks for posting the story, Chris.