Stephen King’s Short Stories

A month of short story posts would not be complete without a week dedicated to Stephen King. For the uninitiated Stephen King is a popular and prolific horror novelist, but for those of us more familiar with his work, he is also a brilliant short story writer. Here are 6 must-read short story collections from the Master of the Macabre:


Night Shift (1978) Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb. In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more.*


Skeleton Crew (1986) A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against destruction. A trip to the attic becomes a journey to hell. A woman driving a Jaguar finds a scary shortcut to paradise. An idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil. And a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged.*


Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993) Featuring twenty short horror stories, a television script, an essay, and a poem, Nightmares and Dreamscapes contains unique and chilling plots including everything from dead rock star zombies to evil toys seeking murderous revenge.*


Everything’s Eventual (2002) King is in terrifying top form in these short stories, taking readers down a road less traveled (for good reason) in the blockbuster ebook “Riding the Bullet”; bad table service turns bloody when you stop in for “Lunch at the Gotham Café”; and terror becomes déjà vu all over again when you get “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French”—along with eleven more stories that will keep you awake until daybreak. Enter a nightmarish mindscape of unrelenting horror and shocking revelations that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our time.*


Just After Sunset (2008) Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating—and then terrifying—journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, “The Gingerbread Girl” is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable—and resourceful—as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Wait Until Dark. In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, “N.,” which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient’s irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside…or keep the world from falling victim to it.*


The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015) Stephen King has dazzled an entire generation of readers with his genius as a prominent writer of short fiction. Now in his latest collection, he once again assembles a generous array of unforgettable, tantalizing tales—including those that, until recently, have never been published in a book (such as the story “Cookie Jar,” which is exclusive to this edition). There are thrilling connections between these works—themes of mortality, the afterlife, guilt, and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. Magnificent, eerie, and utterly compelling, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is one of Stephen King’s finest gifts to readers everywhere—a master storyteller at his very best.*

Enjoy these briliant and sufficiently scary stories!

*Synopses taken from the publisher.

The Best American Short Stories of the Century

Are you curious about the medium of short stories but aren’t quite sure where to start? Well, if you don’t mind carrying around a big, doorstop-sized book then this is for you!


Edited by John Updike and released in 1999, The Best American Short Stories of the Century is a perfect introduction to the art of the short story and to some of it’s most prolific writers including Annie Proulx, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, and John Cheever.

Also, feel free to check out any of the yearly Best American Short Stories releases. Every volume is full of fantastic stories written by an array of talented writers and the introduction by each year’s guest editor is absolutely worth a read.


Interconnected Short Story Collections

For novel-only readers who aren’t convinced about trying short stories, get your feet wet with these wonderful interconnected short story collections. Each story contributes to a larger picture that ends up feeling more like a novel than a set of separate stories.


Perhaps the best known example of this format is Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Each story, whether told from Olive’s point-of-view or not, helps to further develop this fascinating central character.


The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day tells the story of Lima, Indiana–a fictional town where members of a circus spend their winters. The stories focus on different characters across eras and upbringings who are either in the circus or a part of its orbit.


Author Junot Diaz centers each story in this collection around Yunior–a protagonist enamored with love but consistently sabotaged by his own recklessness. Inventive, tender, and funny This Is How You Lose Her is an interconnected story collection that is not to be missed.

Happy Reading!


Short Stories-Aimee Bender

For the next several weeks we’ll be focusing on short fiction gems that are easily lost in the stacks. I have a passion for short story collections and my favorite author in this medium is Aimee Bender. Whimsical, daring, provocative, surreal, and unforgettable are the primary adjectives that come to mind when I think of Ms. Bender’s stories. Here are her collections:


The Girl in the Flammable Skirt  Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory.


Willful Creatures conjures a fantastical world in which authentic love blooms. With her singular mix of surrealism, musical prose, and keenly felt emotion, Bender once again proves herself to be a masterful chronicler of the human condition.


The Color Master  In these deeply resonant stories–evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad–we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.

Enjoy this brilliant and wildly different author.

*Brief synopses taken from the publisher.




Twice Twenty-Two by Ray Bradbury


I love short stories.  At this point I have read hundreds of them–every collection I can get my hands on.  The most memorable of all has been “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury.  I won’t bother with a synopsis, those of you who have read it will immediately know the story I’m referring to and for those who haven’t–at barely 7 pages in length you have no excuse.  Run to the library right now and pick it up.  The name of the collection is Twice Twenty-Two.  You’re welcome.

Looking for more Ray Bradbury?  Here are 3 of my favorites:

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The Halloween Tree

Death is a Lonely Business