Stephen King Talks Tersely On Short Stories

Stephen King, famous for his lengthy novels, proved to be of comparatively few words at a talk about short stories last night.

Asked for his advice to aspiring short fiction writers, he replied, “Write a lot and read a lot.”

King came to Memorial Church last night for a panel and book signing to promote “The Best American Short Stories 2007.”

King, who served as a guest editor for the book, was joined by Heidi Pitlor, the editor of the series, and Jim Shepard, Karen Russell, and Richard Russo, who each contributed short stories to the anthology.

The editors and writers focused their discussion on short stories and read excerpts from the compilation.

King spoke briefly about his experience as a guest editor and said that short-story writing is becoming a lost art.

“I always feel like an evangelist for the short story,” King said.

“We’re gunslingers,” he said. “We’re out on our own.”

King played the part well, urging audience members at the sold-out event to buy the annually published anthology.

“If you bought it, buy another,” King said.

“If you bought two, Christmas is coming,” he added.

Russell compared writing short stories to a fling and likened novel-writing to marriage.

“[Short-story writing] feels like the most natural form to me,” she said.

“A novel is like spelunking in the dark,” she added.

Audience member Luis D. Urbina ’10 said he did not realize that such a substantial culture existed around short-story writing.

“It’s surprising and kind of a good thing to see that so much effort is being put into short stories,” he said.

Chelsea G. Glover ’11 was surprised by King himself.

“I guess I thought he would be mysterious and dark and he was lively and humorous and open,” Glover said.

Dark he may not be, but King was mysterious when he wanted to be.

Referring to Pitlor, the series editor, he said with a widening of his eyes, “She read more short stories than anyone in America.”