Saturday, 19 January 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'Different Seasons' by Stephen King

'Different Seasons' is a collection of four novellas by Stephen King. I haven't really read many novellas in the past but I found these four to be the perfect length. More than a short story, and less than a novel, the novella is an interesting genre and a difficult form to get right but Stephen King does it perfectly as usual.

The first novella, 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption' was an interesting tale of a man's wrongful imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. There were some good twists and the narrative reminded me a little of 'Green Mile'. First Person point of view is definitely one of King's strong points.

The second novella, 'Apt Pupil' really gripped me. It showcases the power struggle between a teenage boy and the Nazi war criminal he has discovered living in his quiet suburban neighbourhood. Parts of this story had me wanting to close my eyes and the dream sequences were pretty horrendous. It was a fascinating read though and it really stuck with me for days.

This was followed by 'The Body', the basis for the film 'Stand by Me'. Told from the point of view of the adult Gordie, the novella centers around young Gordie and his friends adventure to go and ind the corpse of a boy their own age who died when he was hit by a train. That's the surface of it anyway. Really, the novella is about friendship, about family and the expectations that life throws at us. It's about the choices we make and the fact that sometimes, though we think we might have a choice, our lives are mapped out for us before we even have a chance. Having watched 'Stand by Me' several times, I was really surprised by how much the screenplay stayed faithful to the original source. At times, I felt as though I was reading the script, it was just so familiar.

The fourth novella, 'The Breathing Method' was probably my favourite from the collection. It's definitely the closest to what I think of as classic Stephen King. An ageing Doctor tells the story of a patient he treated in the early days of his career, an unmarried pregnant woman who despite the convention of the times, will do anything to give her unborn child the life it deserves. It's pretty chilling and while you know that what happens is impossible, the thought still lingers that it might just be possible, that it could really happen. That's the power of Stephen King for you. His writing always makes you suspend your belief in reality. And only the best writing can do that.

All in all, I loved this collection.

Rating: 5/5

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