Short Essay By Stephen King

Biography and Work of Stephen King Essays

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Killer clown, pig’s blood, children killing adults, an adventurous cat and “here’s Johnny!” can all be connected to the KING of terror and horror, Stephen King. King is one of today's most popular and best selling writers. King combines thrillers, science fiction, the paranormal and detective themes into his stories. He is mainly known for his novels, which has allowed him to do different types of writings such as movie scripts, nonfiction, autobiographies, children's books, and short stories. King's works are so powerful because he uses his experience and observations from his life and (finish)
Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947. His parents Donald King a Merchant Marine captain and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury…show more content…

In 1966, Stephen King graduated from high school and took a scholarship to attend the University of Maine. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, The Maine Campus. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, where he decided his stand of the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. He began his work at an industrial Laundromat, then became a janitor, then finally became an English teacher at Hamden Public School in Maine in the Fall of 1971. He used the experience to write the short story "The Mangler" and the novelette "Roadwork"(as Richard Bachman).During this time, he and his family lived in a trailer. He wrote whenever he wasn't working. King also developed a drinking problem during this time which stayed with him for over a decade.
King began writing numerous novels during this time. One of his first ideas was of a young girl with psychic powers. However, after beginning to write about it he disliked it and threw it into the trash. Tabitha later rescued it from the trash and encouraged him to finish it.After completing the novel, he titled it Carrie. The one thing that really helped the

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I can grab The New Yorker and Harper’s while I’m still standing up, without going to my knees like a school janitor trying to scrape a particularly stubborn wad of gum off the gym floor. For the rest, I must assume exactly that position. I hope the young woman browsing Modern Bride won’t think I’m trying to look up her skirt. I hope the young man trying to decide between Starlog and Fangoria won’t step on me. I crawl along the lowest shelf, where neatness alone suggests few ever go. And here I find fresh treasure: not just Zoetrope and Tin House, but also Five Points and The Kenyon Review. No Glimmer Train, but there’s American Short Fiction, The Iowa Review, even an Alaska Quarterly Review. I stagger to my feet and limp toward the checkout. The total cost of my six magazines runs to over $80. There are no discounts in the magazine section.

So think of me crawling on the floor of this big chain store and ask yourself, What’s wrong with this picture?

We could argue all day about the reasons for fiction’s out-migration from the eye-level shelves — people have. We could marvel over the fact that Britney Spears is available at every checkout, while an American talent like William Gay or Randy DeVita or Eileen Pollack or Aryn Kyle (all of whom were among my final picks) labors in relative obscurity. We could, but let’s not. It’s almost beside the point, and besides — it hurts.

Instead, let us consider what the bottom shelf does to writers who still care, sometimes passionately, about the short story. What happens when he or she realizes that his or her audience is shrinking almost daily? Well, if the writer is worth his or her salt, he or she continues on nevertheless, because it’s what God or genetics (possibly they are the same) has decreed, or out of sheer stubbornness, or maybe because it’s such a kick to spin tales. Possibly a combination. And all that’s good.

What’s not so good is that writers write for whatever audience is left. In too many cases, that audience happens to consist of other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines (and The New Yorker, of course, the holy grail of the young fiction writer) not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there. And this kind of reading isn’t real reading, the kind where you just can’t wait to find out what happens next (think “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad, or “Big Blonde,” by Dorothy Parker). It’s more like copping-a-feel reading. There’s something yucky about it.

Last year, I read scores of stories that felt ... not quite dead on the page, I won’t go that far, but airless, somehow, and self-referring. These stories felt show-offy rather than entertaining, self-important rather than interesting, guarded and self-conscious rather than gloriously open, and worst of all, written for editors and teachers rather than for readers. The chief reason for all this, I think, is that bottom shelf. It’s tough for writers to write (and editors to edit) when faced with a shrinking audience. Once, in the days of the old Saturday Evening Post, short fiction was a stadium act; now it can barely fill a coffeehouse and often performs in the company of nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a mouth organ. If the stories felt airless, why not? When circulation falters, the air in the room gets stale.

And yet. I read plenty of great stories this year. There isn’t a single one in this book that didn’t delight me, that didn’t make me want to crow, “Oh, man, you gotta read this!” I think of such disparate stories as Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” John Barth’s “Toga Party” and “Wake,” by Beverly Jensen, now deceased, and I think — marvel, really — they paid me to read these! Are you kiddin’ me???

Talent can’t help itself; it roars along in fair weather or foul, not sparing the fireworks. It gets emotional. It struts its stuff. If these stories have anything in common, it’s that sense of emotional involvement, of flipped-out amazement. I look for stories that care about my feelings as well as my intellect, and when I find one that is all-out emotionally assaultive — like “Sans Farine,” by Jim Shepard — I grab that baby and hold on tight. Do I want something that appeals to my critical nose? Maybe later (and, I admit it, maybe never). What I want to start with is something that comes at me full-bore, like a big, hot meteor screaming down from the Kansas sky. I want the ancient pleasure that probably goes back to the cave: to be blown clean out of myself for a while, as violently as a fighter pilot who pushes the eject button in his F-111. I certainly don’t want some fraidy-cat’s writing school imitation of Faulkner, or some stream-of-consciousness about what Bob Dylan once called “the true meaning of a pear.”

So — American short story alive? Check. American short story well? Sorry, no, can’t say so. Current condition stable, but apt to deteriorate in the years ahead. Measures to be taken? I would suggest you start by reading this year’s “Best American Short Stories.” They show how vital short stories can be when they are done with heart, mind and soul by people who care about them and think they still matter. They do still matter, and here they are, liberated from the bottom shelf.

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