Newspaper article International New York Times

King Writes a Story, for Listeners ; Horror Author Releases Short Work as Audiobook before Print Version

Newspaper article International New York Times

King Writes a Story, for Listeners ; Horror Author Releases Short Work as Audiobook before Print Version

Article excerpt

Stephen King has released a new short story, "Drunken Fireworks," as an audiobook exclusive, months before the story arrives in print.

In Stephen King's memoir, "On Writing," he gives aspiring authors this advice: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

He might have added another tip, a practice he says has benefited him as a writer perhaps even more: listen.

Mr. King credits his decades-long obsession with audiobooks with sharpening his prose, improving the pacing of his narratives and helping him ward off lazy phrases and cliches.

"If you listen to something on audio, every flaw in a writer's work, the repetitions of words and the clumsy phrases, they all stand out," he said in a recent telephone interview. "As a writer, I say to myself, how will that sound?"

This week, Mr. King will find out whether his fans share his appetite for narrated books. In an unusual experiment, he released a new short story, "Drunken Fireworks," as an audiobook exclusive on Tuesday morning, months before the story arrives in print.

Though he risks disappointing devoted fans of his print books, Mr. King is betting that "Drunken Fireworks" will turn more of his readers into audiobook converts.

"Every now and then, the discussion will come up, 'Are audiobooks as good as books in print?' and the answer to me is a no-brainer," he said. "Yes, they are, and they might even be better."

"Drunken Fireworks" unfolds as a detailed statement given to the police by a hard-partying man who is arrested for his role in a Fourth of July fireworks competition on a lake in Maine. The narrator, Alden McCausland, is a bumbling, unemployed man who spends his days drinking coffee brandy cocktails with his mother, and going to great, and illegal, lengths to outdo his nemesis's annual fireworks display. …

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