DIFFERENT SEASONS

It will take all of King's monumental byline-insurance to drum up an audience for this bottom-of-the-trunk collection: four overpadded novellas, in non-horror genres—without the gripping situations needed to transcend King's notoriously clumsy writing. Best of the lot is Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption—in which banker Andy Dufresne, in a Maine prison for life for murdering his wife and her lover, plans his escape over a 20-year period, working his way through four feet of concrete to get to the sewer shaft beyond. The climax is feeble (especially after such a long build-up), the redemption theme is murky—but the close observation of prison life offers some engaging details. "Apt Pupil," on the other hand, is crude and utterly unconvincing: Todd, an All-American California boy, discovers that Mr. Denker down the block is really an aged Nazi war criminal—so he extorts long confessions from the old man, relishing all the atrocity details, becoming totally corrupted by the Nazi mystique; at last, however, the old Nazi (who gets his kicks by killing winos) takes revenge on the boy—and their evil symbiosis ends in a muddle of suicide, murder, and madness. The third piece is the most conventional: "The Body," a familiar fall-from-innocence tale about four not-very-bright Maine lads (one of whom, the reminiscing narrator, will become a novelist) who go into the woods to locate the body of a boy thrown from a trestle by a train. And "The Breathing Method"—told, a la Peter Straub's Ghost Story, as a gentleman's club anecdote—is the most explicitly horrific: an unwed mother is decapitated on Christmas Eve but gives birth in falling sleet anyway. . . because of the Lamaze Method. Thin gimmicks, weighed down with King's weak characters and weaker prose (unlike his crisp short stories)—but the fans may come around yet again, despite the clear evidence that King needs the supernatural to distract from his awesome limitations as a mainstream storyteller.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 1982

ISBN: 0451167538

Page Count: 482

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1982

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more