7 Stephen King Short Stories Perfect For Halloween Reading


I'm a firm believer in the fact that a good Stephen King story never goes out of style. Like many readers, I first encountered his writing through his novels, but it only took one spring afternoon with "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" — okay, technically a novella — for me to realize that King's genius knows no bounds. And these autumn days leading up to Halloween are the perfect time to enjoy an unapologetically terror-inducing S.K. binge.

Turns out there's a Stephen King story for every letter of the alphabet (except K, V, X, and Z). In fact, King's website — it's a treasure trove, fans — contains a handy list of all his short stories, complete with information about where you can find these stories and in what year they were first published. Some stories even contain notes about their inspiration, and in true King fashion those notes are utterly fascinating.

Still, the list is long and one needs a place to start. If you're looking to work yourself into a state of teeth-chattering fear (the good kind that writing can help you safely experience), look no further than these TK short stories, sure to entertain you, terrify you, and further establish King as one of the most imaginative writers writing today.

1. "1922"

According to King: "'1922' was inspired by a nonfiction book called Wisconsin Death Trip (1973), written by Michael Lesy and featuring photographs taken in the small city of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. I was impressed by the rural isolation of these photographs, and the harshness and deprivation in the faces of many of the subjects. I wanted to get that feeling in my story."

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2. "A Death"

"A Death" first appeared in The New Yorker, for those of you with lingering reservations about King's cred as a writer. (I know the genre siloing seems pretty passé these days, but old notions can be hard to shake.)

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3. "The Reach"

Given the season, it may seem odd to recommend a more lit-fiction King short story, but "The Mist" is just too good to not tout. If you want to be moved to tears of great emotion, don't miss the last title in King's rangiest collection, Skeleton Crew. (Yes, there are poems in this book. Just roll with it.)

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4. "Gingerbread Girl"

A woman whose pastime (running) is rudely interrupted by a serial killer? You know King's going to make that story un-put-down-able.

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5. "The Man In The Black Suit"

"The Man in the Dark Suit" was King's first story to appear in The New Yorker and it garnered him an O. Henry Prize. More than twenty years after it was published (in 1994), this tale of an old man recollecting about a childhood (and possibly supernatural) trauma is the pinnacle of literary horror.

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6. "The Boogeyman"

Night Shift was Stephen King's first collection of short stories, so it's worth tracking down just for historic value. Plus, the collection contains some pretty culturally significant shorts: "The Lawnmower Man" and that ubiquitous classic "Children of the Corn." My personal fave is "The Boogeyman" for its unreliable/super-reliable narrator.

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7. "The Moving Finger"

Want to insure that your fear of bathrooms (thanks, It and, oh, yeah, also "Psycho") is truly cemented? "The Moving Finger" should do the trick!

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