Short stories are hard to write. That might sound weird or wrong to people who don’t know better or have never thought too deeply about it before, but it’s true. Just because it’s short, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Think about it: with a novel, you have at least 200 pages with which to begin the story, develop the characters (and the story), then end the story. With a short story, you have to do all that in far fewer pages. If you can do that in 20 pages or less…and the story is also really good…I commend you. This might be easier for some people than for others, but it’s still tough in general.
As much as I love Uncle Steve–and I love him quite a bit–I’m not afraid to say that his writing can be verbose. I love him despite that, as frustrating as it can be sometimes. Because of his sometimes-verboseness, I find myself in awe of his ability to write great short stories. I’ve read a number of short story collections by a number of authors, and while I wasn’t disappointed with any of them, SK comes in at the top of my list as the Master of Short Storytelling.
Everything’s Eventual, published in 2002, is a collection of 14 short stories. Some of them are better than others, relatively speaking, but they are all very, very good. As a Dark Tower fan, and as a fan of Randall Flagg, this collection has been given a special place in my heart. There were two new-to-me DT-related stories in this collection, as well as two stories featuring Randall Flagg. Score! I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t read the DT-related stories before now, but I blame that on the SK reading project I have going and my brain’s need to stick to the plan and do things in order.
Some of the stories in EE are straight-up horror and would scare anyone. A few, I think, would be considered more personal horrors–they might not be universal. And some of the stories aren’t horror at all, but show the darker sides of human beings and the darker feelings we experience in everyday life. And as always with SK, there is that touch (or more) of dark humor in each story. You can’t help but laugh even though you might not find the same thing funny if it was happening to you. I love that SK’s stories–whether short stories or novels–can make me laugh in the middle of being scared shitless or being intensely sad. SK is very good at making me feel ALL THE THINGS. That’s the mark of an excellent writer, in my opinion.
If you’re an SK fan, you’ve most likely already read this one. If you haven’t, I recommend it. I would also recommend this to someone who wants to read SK but doesn’t know where to start, maybe for people who don’t necessarily want to jump into his most horrific/gory stuff. I always think recommending SK’s short stories to someone who isn’t sure about him is a good idea–it gives them a taste without making them commit to an entire novel they might not like. And I think this collection could be a good place to start.