Monday, 10 December 2012

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Different Seasons by Stephen King

Books For Men Book Reviews! Different Seasons by Stephen King
First things first, let's get this out in the open now. This is a Stephen King book, but it is not a horror story. It's not even one non-horror story, it's actually a collection of four novellas. Two of these novellas spawned two of the greatest films ever made; and on this occasion the films are actually better than the book, even though I really enjoyed the book, or novellas, or whatever they're called!

Confused yet? Okay, let me start again.

I'd never read a Stephen King book before; horror novels have never really appealed to me. But a good few years ago Channel 4 were showing one of my favourite films Stand By Me. I sat down to watch and as the credits rolled this appeared on screen: Based on the book The Body by Stephen King.

'But this isn't a horror film!' I thought to myself. Perhaps I hadn't read the words on the screen correctly, and back then I didn't have the luxury of Sky+ to rewind and check, but I did have this little thing called Google! A quick internet search later and I found out that not only had my eyes not deceived me, but this novel was also responsible for the making of The Shawshank Redemption as well. 'This must be the God of all books' I decided and rushed out the next day to buy myself a copy of this marvelous hybrid of magical words that had somehow managed to inspire not one, but two brilliant films!

And it was as I flicked through the pages in Waterstones that I realised this was a collection of four novellas, rather than one super-story about four boys who go in search of a dead body, do battle against an older gang, find said body, and then all grow-up before presumably one of those boys (probably Gordy) is found guilty of murdering his wife and her lover in his adult life, is wrongly sent to prison, and plots one of the most fantastically jaw-dropping moments in movie history!

Well it could have happened that way!

Instead King has delivered four wonderfully written stories - The Body (Stand By Me), Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (The Shawshank Redemption), Apt Pupil (which was also made into a film in 1998 of the same name), and The Breathing Method.

The two former stories have become well-known in their own right thanks to their film adaptations, and there will be those who are familiar with Apt Pupil, although I have not seen the film myself so I am not entirely sure how closely it sticks to King's tale of the entwined lives of a 16-year-old boy and his elderly Nazi war criminal neighbor, who both set about their own grisly murders of the homeless before a final twist brings them back together.

The fourth novella, The Breathing Method, is about a middle-aged Manhattan lawyer who joins an exclusive men's club where, amongst other things, like to share unusual stories about their lives. It is here that David the lawyer meets  Dr. Emlyn McCarron who tells him of a rather gruesome story that becomes the subtext to the novella.

I won't go into too much more detail as I don't want to give everything away, but what I will say is that the biggest compliment I can pay to Stephen King and Different Seasons is that through reading this book I now want to pick up another Stephen King novel, despite the fact I'm not a fan of horror, such was his ability to paint stories with words. Even though I still prefer the two movie versions of his film, I don't think that is a sleight on King's work here because this collection of novellas still remain hugely enjoyable and you have to remember it was King's imagination that inspired those brilliant stories to be brought to life on the big screen. That deserves your reading attention.

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