Stephen King gave a Princeton audience a preview of his newest work, which will be published in 2017.
The legendary author shared two excerpts from “Sleeping Beauties,” which Mr. King wrote with his son, Owen King, an author in his own right, having published such acclaimed books as “We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories,” and “Double Feature: A Novel.”
During his reading — which was part of the Althea Ward Clark Reading Series, presented by Princeton University’s Program in Creative in Writing — at McCarter Theatre on Nov. 16, Stephen King read the excerpts from an iPad. He explained that he and his son started working on the book two years ago after Owen came to him with an idea — a story about what would happen if all the women in the world fell asleep.
Mr. King, whose bibliography of bestsellers includes “Carrie,” “The Shining,” “Misery,” “Under the Dome,” and “11/22/63,” said the idea brought two memories to mind. His mother-in-law once told him that if you go into someone’s house and there isn’t a ring in the toilet bowl, it means a woman lives in the home. The other thought was his mother saying that no man knows how to property fold a shirt (men who served in the military may disagree).
Wearing jeans, a collared shirt, and sneakers, Mr. King was introduced by Joyce Carol Oates. Mr. King talked about the story, and a bit about writing. “One of the reasons writers write is to figure out what they think by codifying it into words,” he said. He also joked about pushing the wrong button on his iPad and losing the excerpts, “What will you do then Smartass?” he said to himself. He added that while the iPad is amazing, he preferred reading printed pages. “These are just boops and bleeps,” he said of the words on the screen. It was an interesting remark from a writer who was among the first major authors to publish an original story as an e-book, and who has published a few things exclusively for Amazon’s Kindle.
The stage was decorated with the set for a production of the musical “Once,” presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts. Standing before some wooden tables, a bar and under dozens of hanging chandeliers, Mr. King read two excerpts from the book, one from a man’s point of view, and one from the point of a view from a female character, who is existing in another dimension.
Poet and novelist Eileen Myles also participated in the reading, sharing several poems, and an excerpt from “Afterglow,” her upcoming account of a dog’s life.
Eight days after the election, it was clear that Donald Trump’s victory was on everyone’s mind. The day after the election, Mr. King announced a break from tweeting after Mr. Trump’s win. As of this writing, he hasn’t resumed tweeting, but Ms. Oates said she hoped he’d return to Twitter (and his more than 2.5 million followers) soon.
Audience members were given a paper listing the platform for Ms. Myles’ run for president, in 1992. She promised to abolish the income tax, and to tax assets instead; to refuse to live in the White House while there were homeless people in America; to write her own speeches; and to guarantee healthcare for all Americans, because she needed it to.
Ms. Myles started her reading with what she described as her “early lesbian poems,” before reading her more recent work. She then nodded toward Mr. King and said, “We’ve all got them.”
Her poems included “Failed Appointment,” about her 95-year-old mother. The poem came about after a few incidents where people gathered because thought her mother would die. It’s a serious topic, but Ms. Myles was funny and engaging as she read the work.
Another poem, “Peanut Butter” was about hunger, sex, swimming and summer (“the sensation of being dirty in body and mind/ summer as a time to do nothing and make no money”).
At one point, Ms. Myles paused to note about the election, “Not to be partisan, but... “ She then made a gesture with a certain finger.