Different Seasons by Stephen King consists of four short (or long, depending on how you look at it) novellas that each conveys a different message and eliciting various emotions from the readers. When looking for my next book to read by the great man himself, I saw this book making it to someone’s top 10 Stephen King’s list and thought to give it a try since I’ve rarely seen it in a “top 10” list before. Usually, most readers put The Stand as number 1 but I hated that book personally. Up until now, Stephen King has been a hit or miss with the books I’ve read written from him. I wanted to try something a bit different and Different Seasons seems to be what I was looking for. Upon completion of the book, I came away with two awesome stories, one OK and one below average. It was a pretty good ride but there definitely were some things that I didn’t like the more I got into the book.
Rita Haysworth and Shawshank Redemption
While I had watched the movie a long time ago, I totally forgot that it was based on a novella by Stephen King himself. I really liked this story and I can see why it’s one of the more popular one’s taken out of Different Seasons. The mysteriousness of Andy Dufresne and his carefree attitude made things really interesting and you just can’t help but wonder how it’s going to end. Throughout the story, while you can’t help but think about just how Andy will escape from Shawshank prison, this I don’t think is a story about a simple prison break. There’s much more to it than that. The story is being told through the eyes of Red, another prisoner in Shawshank and slowly but surely, he recounts his tale about Andy Duresne. How does Andy behave so differently from the other prisoners even though he’s doing a life sentence? What does he know that others don’t? I really liked the ending to this novella even though some might disagree. Some might find it as a bit of a cliff hanger but truly the author wanted you to finish the story for yourself and come up with your own conclusions. It was written beautifully and I truly believe this is the best novella out of the four in Different Seasons.
The second novella is another one of my favorites and most memorable. It depicts of a young boy learning a dark secret on one of his elderly neighbors. I had no idea that this story was eventually going down the path of darkness and horror. When I did, it was amazing. Anytime you deal with Nazi’s and the horrors of World War II, it definitely draws upon readers all kinds of emotions and feelings. Just how far can one’s curiosity go until it completely devours them? This is what I love best about Apt Pupil. A young boy and an old man basically are at a tug of war to see who will relinquish first in their game of blackmail. The darkness of this novella is definitely what I consider bone chilling and it was great to see the author once again writing something as dark as this. The story immediately caught my attention right at the start and I found the story itself to be quite fascinating. I found myself loving the dark ending. It fits with the rest of the story so well!
This novella revolves around a bunch of boys trying to find the missing and presumed dead body of a boy named Ray Brower. This is one of the first stories I’ve read where the amount of swearing and cussing really put me off. Personally, I cuss a lot in real life and so do my friends. I don’t have a problem with that. In books, I also usually don’t have a problem with it but The Body is the first that really got on my nerves for some reason. It’s also hard to write from a first person’s point of view of a young kid. The author just have to make this one kid more “mature” than the rest because if not, it would be a really hard read and readers will likely not fall in line with the protagonist themselves. The Body deals with friendship in an odd kind of way. I loved the characters of the boys but the story just went on and on. I definitely wanted it to end a lot sooner because I was losing interest. Towards the end, I actually skipped major chunks of sections when the author started to drift off only to refocus my attention back when there were dialogues between the characters. I would think watching the movie adaptation of this story would have provided for a better experience.
The Breathing Method
This novella is definitely the worst out of the four in my opinion but fortunately it’s also the shortest of them all. It revolves around a lawyer being invited to some special old man’s club by his boss. The author spends a lot of time building the hype and mysteriousness of this club. No latter than that are the readers than tossed into a story told by one of the club’s member about how a women going through childbirth should control their breathing. It’s kind of weird and I’m sure not many readers know what to make of it at times. Just what exactly is the message here? What I got from it is the will and determination a single women has to go through to bear a child in that period of time. The ending to this story within a story was definitely gruesome and unexpected to say the least. The ending itself for the main story is quite disappointing because I feel that the whole mysteriousness of the club and the character Steven himself was totally unnecessary and a complete waste of time. Heck even the main character of David himself has no bearing whatsoever on the story and is just there as a filler to take up space.