‘Premium Harmony’ by Stephen King

King is a (the?) master of horror. Over the years I’ve loved his tales of zombie pets, demonic cars and telekinetic teenagers, but in ‘Premium Harmony’, he presents the real-life horrors of marriage and mortality. Within our mundane, pedestrian lives we are jolted into remembering that we should not forsake our loved ones, and we should appreciate what little we have before it’s snatched away from us. The focus on everyday, otherwise unimportant details (the purchase of cigarettes, the products on sale in Wal-Mart) and the subtle jibes and constant bickering between the married couple are what fascinate me in this piece. There is an agonising double blow in this story which left me completely shaken, idolising King for being so mercilessly brutal.

First published in The New Yorker, December 1, 2009, and available to read online for subscribers. Collected in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner/ Hodder & Stoughton, 2015

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