Story of the Month – “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates”

It’s easy to pigeonhole some authors by the genre or format of their work.  Stephen King is not one of them.  His work has been published in print, e-book, comic book and multimedia forms.  He can write horror, mystery, non-fiction, short stories and novels.  And yes… he’s even working on a musical with John Mellencamp.  I haven’t really liked his early work but I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of his work during the last fifteen years.  This was before I knew about the Corgi connection.  Stephen and Tabitha were once owned by Marlowe but now have Frodo as their Resident Corgi. 

Let me tell you about “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates”.  It is presently in the October/November 2008 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  In November it will appear in King’s collection of short stories titled Just After Sunset.

Annie Driscoll receives an unexpected phone call while preparing to face an army of her relatives under sad circumstances.  King provides the reader with a setting, the circumstances and the main characters within three paragraphs.  Successful short story writers accomplish this quickly while drawing the reader into the story.  The dialogue reads true as are Annie’s thoughts and actions after the call. 

The tone of the story is a mixture of love and wistfulness with a dash of hope thrown in.  Annie’s phone call only lasts a few minutes but she always has it in the back of her mind when she’s in New York.  The reader gets to decide how much of the phone conversation is imaginary and how much is real.  No answers are given to the reader; in fact, the entire short story is open to the reader’s interpretation. 

My husband and I have been apart this week while he’s out of town at a film festival.  The distance has been lessened with phone calls at various times throughout his trip and I’m very happy he’s been keeping his cell phone charged.  I suppose that’s why the story has been stuck in my head the last week or so.

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