Short Story: Journalist on Death Row?
July 19, 2009 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Anyone recognize this short story about a journalist who wants to learn what it's like to be on Death Row? It's NOT by Roald Dahl.

I used to run a prominent Dahl site so I get a lot of questions from people trying to identify his stories. He tends to get misidentified with a lot of stories just on a basis of a twist ending. Yesterday I got an email from a writer who's working on a book (something to do with experiential journalism) with a similar question:

"My friend told me about a Dahl short story in which a reporter decides to find out about what it's like to be a prisoner on death row. The prison agrees, and even straps him to the chair. The prisoner has a heart attack, thinking that he really is going to be electrocuted."

I've already written him back to tell him it's not by Dahl. I'm curious myself now though, and I wondered if maybe the Hive Mind could identify the original story. (I'll send him this link and provide any follow-up details he gives me.)
posted by web-goddess to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it Stephen King?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:40 PM on July 19, 2009

Best answer: It appears as if it's "The Final Chapter," by Richard O. Lewis.
posted by WCityMike at 2:44 PM on July 19, 2009

FYI, how I found it out: a Google search pointed me to this Yahoo! Answers question, which led to this question, which led to this IMdB entry, which has a credit "Richard O. Lewis (from a story by)". It appears the short story is anthologized in a November 1969 horror anthology entitled Alfred Hitchcock's Coffin Corner.
posted by WCityMike at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To add a little more info, it is possible that the person believed it was a Dahl story because it was featured in an episode of a television show called "Tales of the Unexpected", which started out as television adaptations of Dahl stories but then branched out to include other authors.
posted by Night_owl at 2:52 PM on July 19, 2009

And Mike is faster than I am.
posted by Night_owl at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2009

Response by poster: You guys are BRILLIANT. You not only tracked it down, you also figured out why his friend thought it was Dahl in the first place. I've passed the information along. Thank you!
posted by web-goddess at 4:26 PM on July 19, 2009

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