Having read a couple of Kings books before and being a fan of his stories, I had high expectations for this collection of four novellas. Two of these stories were made into very well known movie adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me which are some of my favourite films.
This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.
Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town.
In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me.
Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption –
- I’ve seen the movie version many times before I read it, but reading it has only made me enjoy it more.
- I love stories in which you can find light or beauty in the darkest of places and characters who can find hope in circumstances which seem dire and grim. This story certainly delivers this in the form of two of the main characters; Red and Andy Dufresne. Both of them are in prison serving extensive sentences, in which they strike up a friendship which only strengthens over time and it is through Reds eyes we see the events which follow.
- Just because the novels main theme is hope and redemption, King doesn’t shy away from the grim realities of life in prison and the difficulties therein, so a warning if you’re sensitive or triggered by scenes or mentions of sexual assault or other forms of violence.
- The major twist or surprise in this novel just CAN’T BE RUINED. Note the caps – it is such a open-mouth, totally shocking but absolutely satisfying twist. If you haven’t read or watched the Shawshank Redemption then I would HIGHLY recommend it.
‘They give you life, and that’s what they take – all of it that counts, anyway’
‘One day in 1958 I looked at myself in a small shaving mirror I kept in my cell and I saw a forty-year-old man looking back at me’
‘They say it has no memory. And that’s where I want to finish out my life, Red. In a warm place that has no memory’
‘Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all…and the part of you that knows it was a crime to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much drab and empty for their departure’
- Definitely the darkest story in this collection, this novella centres around a seemingly ‘normal, all American boy named Todd Bowden. However as the story progresses we realise that he has a disturbing fascination with an elderly man who lives nearby. Kurt Dussander, a Nazi war criminal has escaped persecution by changing his identity and managed to do so successfully until Todd discovers his identity. That’s when Todd and Dussander start an extremely weird and sick sort of friendship.
- I would consider this a psychological thriller or horror because King explores lengths or capacity for human evil in this story. It’s unsettling but the tension and suspense is pretty compelling, I honestly had no idea what would happen next and it was so unpredictable. While it was definitely hard to read at times due to the extremely twisted actions taken by the characters, it was hard to put to down.
- This story follows a group of young misfits; Gordie Lachance, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp and Vern Tessio on their quest to see a dead body before it is discovered by the police.
- This was definitely one of my favourite stories in the collection. The story is narrated from an older Gordies perspective, reminiscing on his childhood. It perfectly encapsulates the sense of nostalgia of being a young teen, summer adventures as well as coming face to face with death and grief. .
- An element of the novel which really stand out to me is the friendship between Gordie and Chris. While all four of the boys consider themselves close, it’s only Chris and Gordie who have more meaningful exchanges. Chris is the only one who encourages Gordie to pursue his passion for being a writer and he believes in him like nobody else does. They can be honest and vulnerable with each other, and their friendship is enduring and touching.
- Overall, this story has a special place in my heart. I can’t even necessarily explain why. It’s all about growing up, the friends we lose connection with and the loss of innocence we all experience and as much as it makes me sad, I still love the message of the story and there is some beautiful prose.
‘I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?’
‘It’s like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, “This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it.” Kids lose everything unless there’s someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should’
‘The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them–words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out.’
‘We nodded and said hi. That was all. It happens. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant, did you ever notice that?’
The Breathing Method
- This was the story which interested me the least, maybe because it came after such a good one? I’m not sure but while it was certainly intriguing, the concept of a club devoted to telling stories for instance. I liked that but overall I preferred the other three tales.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Different Seasons to readers of any genre. Although these stories are categorised as dark or thrilling stories, there’s also real heart and sensitivity in them, which is what I most enjoy about Kings writing.
★★★★ – 4 Star rating
Have you read any of Stephen Kings work before? If not, would you like to? Would love to have a chat in the comments!
Until next time,