His only education after high school was a workshop on fiction writing that he took at what was then the New School for Social Research when he was in his 20s. He enrolled because the G.I. bill paid the $75 tuition and he could sell the books. The class broke into applause when he read his first story. He started to write every day, even as he worked at other jobs.And like Art Buchwald, Stern has managed to have the last word.
Mr. Stern’s last piece of published work was a short story in The Kenyon Review last spring. Called “The Advancer,” it tells of a dastardly scheme by an obituary writer to secretly charge people for writing positive advance obituaries about them and bad ones about their enemies.
“I can never read an obituary again with innocent eyes,” the narrator says.