October 07, 2011

Different Seasons by Stephen King

Different Seasons is made up of four different short stories by King. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method. I have to confess, I mainly picked up this book for the Shawshank Redemption and am a little biased because it was filmed at the Reformatory in my hometown. I loved the movie and couldn't wait to read the book, although I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a full novel. The rest of the stories I had heard little about and wasn't sure what to expect going into them.

The Shawshank Redemption centers around Andy, a man who claims to be wrongfully accused of his wife and her lovers murder and is sent to prison. While here, because of his astuteness of a banker he becomes an asset to the higher ups in the prison and this gets him special privileges and affords him some protections that other prisoners don't get. Despite this, Andy dreams of ways to escape from the nightmare that is life at Shawshank. His story is told through the eyes of Red, a man who's the person to go to to get what you need at the prison and a friend of Andy's.

The next story, Apt Pupil, is about a boy who has discovered the location of a Nazi war criminal. Blackmailing the old man, he makes him tell him stories of what the camps were really like, every gory detail. However, during this telling the tables are turned and the boy is slowly lured into a trap in which he cannot escape. Together they both rely on each other to keep secrets and keep them both from harm.

The Body is a story of young boys who, hearing a rumour about a body in the woods, set out to find it. It is filled with adolescent angst and the trials of trying to fit in with each other and their differently abusive families. The boys fears, hopes, dreams, and other emotions come out as they look for the poor boy who has nothing to hope for anymore.

The Breathing Method was the shortest of the books but somewhat intriguing. It is the tale of a man who has been asked to join a "club" (everything is quite secretive and there is an unspoken rule not to talk about certain things) where the main function is telling stories. Especially exciting are the stories told around Christmas time and the narrator uses this book to especially tell the story of the "breathing method" which is told by one of the doctor members and is about a young unmarried woman pregnant with her first child.

The characters in all of these books were well written. My favorite of course was Andy and Red in the Shawshank Redemption. I felt particular loathing for all of the characters in the Apt Pupil, but I suppose that is what King was trying to get out of the reader as no one was a very likeable character in it. The boys in The Body were ok; most of their lives were pitiable but I never really felt any connection to any of them. The characters in The Breathing Method were nice, but nothing special and there wasn't enough about them to make you interested in their lives.

Kings writing was fabulous in all the books. His books are very mature in theme though and this particular one includes gore, sex, rape fantasies, racial slurs and other potentially offensive material. Most specifically, Apt Pupil was very sickening and had loads of crass material in it. The most mild would probably be The Breathing Method. I would have liked King to expand more on this story as he had an interesting side story, but it wasn't fully fleshed out and what could have been a marvelous idea, was cut short.

Overall I thought this book was fantastic because of Shawshank. The other stories were good but they just didn't capture my interest as much.

Different Seasons
Copyright 1982
507 pages

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