Friday, April 27, 2007

Different Seasons

Different Seasons (Signet)

Stephen King

Date: 2005-07-14 23:04:33   —   $7.99   —   Book

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Three out of four movies agree: This is the King anthology to adapt.

People who think of King as solely a horror writer seem to miss the fact that King's primary motivation is to tell stories, whether horror or otherwise. This anthology of four novellas shows that not only does he excel at doing so, perhaps he is best adapted when the source material is shorter.

The first novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, was adapted into a movie with the same, though shortened, name. The plotline is largely intact in the movie, though the filmmakers added a few extra twists of their own to underscore the irony. (King was simply recounting what could have been a true chronicle, and an examination of determination; the movie gives a few extra smacks to moral hypocrites.)

The second, Apt Pupil, is an examination of hate and how the language and study of hate can degrade the soul. It's not a fun read, nor, I suspect, a fun movie. It may be necessary to read every so often, just as a reminder that such things exist.

The third novella is The Body, made into the movie Stand By Me. It's an examination of friendship and a bit of a coming-of-age story, as the writer protagonist recounts an adventure that he went on with two dumb friends and a third friend who is almost a modern Huckleberry Finn, someone who comes from a bad family but is capable of rising above his origins. That friend very carefully points out the danger of the first two friends, the fear that his talented storyteller friend might waste his potential. It's an interesting social comment.

The final novella, The Breathing Method, is a standard little ghost story, told in a gentlemen's club. It hearkens back to an older era where such clubs were common and those who told mysteries... or science fiction... or fantasy... could easily be set in such a club to tell their tales for us. I don't expect this one to be made into a movie, as it is too simple. It is, however, a nice little finish to a book of tales.

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