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Premium Harmony - by Stephen King - a short story discussion 
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 Premium Harmony - by Stephen King - a short story discussion
Premium Harmony
By Stephen King


You can read the short story Premium Harmony, by Stephen King, completely FREE online. And then please give us your thoughts on the story right here in this thread. ;-)




They’ve been married for ten years and for a long time everything was O.K.—swell—but now they argue. Now they argue quite a lot. It’s really all the same argument. It has circularity. It is, Ray thinks, like a dog track. When they argue, they’re like greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit. You go past the same scenery time after time, but you don’t see it. You see the rabbit.

He thinks it might be different if they’d had kids, but she couldn’t. They finally got tested, and that’s what the doctor said. It was her problem. A year or so after that, he bought her a dog, a Jack Russell she named Biznezz. She’d spell it for people who asked. She loves that dog, but now they argue anyway.

They’re going to Wal-Mart for grass seed. They’ve decided to sell the house—they can’t afford to keep it—but Mary says they won’t get far until they do something about the plumbing and get the lawn fixed. She says those bald patches make it look shanty Irish. It’s because of the drought. It’s been a hot summer and there’s been no rain to speak of. Ray tells her grass seed won’t grow without rain no matter how good it is. He says they should wait.

>>> Continue on and read the rest of Premium Harmony



Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:08 am
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Post 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. :blush:

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.


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Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:26 pm
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Post Re: Premium Harmony - by Stephen King - a short story discussion
KindaSkolarly wrote:
Anyway, this story is a string of choppy little declarative sentences. Lots of periods on the page, which made me think of blackheads.
I didn't care much for the story, but I don't hold the style against him. King doesn't always write like that. I figure he wanted to write in the "voice" of his shallow focus person.
KindaSkolarly wrote:
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.
The game of maneuvering with his wife for advantage seems to take up most of his attention. It feels like his "immediate needs" have become tokens in their little game. It reminds me of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in that way, and there is a missing child at the heart of that fight as well.

In King's telling, their child substitute dies due to the main character's absorption in the death of his wife, but also due to his lack of real interest in the pet as well. And, in what I take to be the only interesting item in the story besides the sparring with his wife, he is finally moved by the death of the pet. But he is laughing at the same time. Is King suggesting that sometimes people's emotions are so crusted over with posturing that a lightweight shock like the pet dying touches them more than a serious shock like the sudden death of his wife? Or even that the incongruity of the death he had, in an ironic way, brought about matters more to him than the other death he might also unconsciously have wanted? That would kind of fit with how King has made a living out of sneaking emotional connection in through the back door of stories of the weird and the unbelievable.
KindaSkolarly wrote:
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.
I would kind of agree with that, though I have not read all that much Stephen King. But he can do sympathetic characters. "The Green Mile" is one of the best paranormal books ever written, and who doesn't like "The Shawshank Redemption"? Both have excellent characters that I couldn't help but like and cared about very much.



Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:56 pm
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