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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2010
I love Stephen King and for decades I've been purchasing his books the moment they come out. I even ordered the limited edition of this book from Cemetery Dance so I could get the bonus baseball card. I am sad to admit that Blockade Billy is a huge disappointment. As some have noted, this is first and foremost a short story, not a novella. The trade edition comes with a "bonus" short story called "Morality", which was featured in Esquire magazine and is 52 pages long (Blockade Billy is 80). It is a tiny book with large font, which is the oldest trick in the proverbial book. I read both stories in about 40 minutes. Surprisingly I found Morality to be a lot more engaging than the titular Blockade Billy, which is a lot of build up for a mildly interesting punch-line. I'm sure King will include Blockade Billy in some future anthology and I would recommend waiting until then to read this story.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 28, 2010
"Blockade Billy", at least in the form in which I bought it, contains 2 medium-length short stories by Stephen King. I'm afraid I have to confess to being a Stephen King-ophile. I have read everything he has published (including many anthologies in which he has only contributed one short story or novella). Obviously I like the guy's writing - usually. Occasionally I pan his books but mostly I find them to be 4 or 5 star reads. Not this one, I'm afraid. The hardcover book itself is about the size of a standard mass-market paperback and both the margins and the typeface are very large, so volume's 129 pages of text would only take up approximately 60-70 pages in a normal hardcover presentation.

The first story, "Blockade Billy" is, as one can tell from the cover and publisher's description, a summer baseball tale about the heyday of the game in the 1957. It's OK, because SK is a great writer, but the story itself is, well, very disappointing. There is nothing about it that is "haunting", and the back cover implies a "secret" about the "greatest player the game has ever seen". All of this is misleading. Trying for a no spoiler approach to reviewing, I think I am safe in saying that there is nothing of the supernatural, occult, science fiction or paranormal going on here. No hint of "The Natural" here. Just baseball in the big leagues on a fictional team in Newark, NJ, and regular everyday baseball people. And there is a lot that does not make sense. Including the reason that Billy's (rather short) career stats were "erased from the game etc. All-in-all, very disappointing.

The "bonus" short story, "Morality" was also just OK. This one had more of a SK-type feel to it but it was still not even close to any of King's best. And once again, there were several plot holes and characters' actions that didn't make complete sense, at least to me. In particular the Reverend and his particular choice was not compelling or even very logical.

All in all, I guess I'd have to say that this was the worst of everything written and published entirely by Stephen King. 1.5 stars just because of the writing. 0 stars for the story lines. Sorry for the harsh review but there is little here to recommend.

J.M. Tepper
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I listened to this on the audio CD. It contains two short stories are combined on the CD. Blockage Billy is a moderately interesting short story of a young man that is a baseball prodigy and also mentally ill to the point of being a multiple murderer and a person that enjoys hurting other people.

The second story is about a woman that is paid to commit a criminal act for money so another man can enjoy committing what he believes is his first sin before he dies. Her criminal act is an act of cowardice action against a child. The story was not interesting or enjoyable.

Overall this is not a good set of short stories from Stephen King and they barely make a minimum grade when compared to his other good books. These two stories do not represent the best of Stephen King's imagination nor are they the best horror books or a great example of his creative story telling. They both missed the mark and I rated them as a 2 star item. I am a Stephen King fan and I have read and own all of his books but to be honest unless you are driven to just read all of his books then this book is worth not reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2010
I am a diehard baseball fan as well as a fan of Stephen King, so this story was tailor-made for me. I greatly enjoyed it, and would recommend it wholeheartedly for a baseball fan. King really gets the baseball part right, mixing real players and places in with the fictional ones to good effect.

So why only four stars? Well, I fear readers who aren't baseball fans wouldn't enjoy it as much. They might even find it boring. And whether you're a baseball fan or not, the plot is rather hard to swallow. I know, it's Stephen King, but just doesn't seem like the events in this book could happen without it being a national scandal. And we're supposed to believe it's all been forgotten?

As others have mentioned, it's also very expensive for what you get. The large print is nice for those who no longer have young eyes, but still...this is basically a short story. It took me less than an hour to read. As much as I enjoyed this, I have to say it's overpriced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
*This review is only for Blockade Billy*, my edition didn't have the extra short story.
Being familiar with baseball, though not a diehard fan, this was the perfect book at the perfect time. A little treat from Stephen King to his fans, and in my case, a little dose of King to hold me over until I'm prepared to read the huge Wizards and Glass or 11-22-63.
I give the story four stars because I appreciate what it is. What is it? Well, it's a pretty faced-paced light read thats fun for an hour or two. It shows once again Stephen King is just a talented writer in general, as he tackles a sports fiction story. The story is short, but doesn't waste a word.
I get the feeling people may have rated this lower because either they don't care for baseball (which is understandable) or because they try and compare this story to King's full length novels that are ten times its size. The characters aren't developed to well, but I didn't expect them to be. After all the book is tiny and barely reaches 100 pages (and the pages don't have alot of words on them) in total length. It's more like a long short story, to read in one sitting and to have fun with, and in my case, that's exactly what happened. One thing I loved is how the narrarator is actually telling this story to "Mr. King" , who I can only believe is Stephen himself. Some may find is a little tacky, but I enjoyed when the character telling the story says something like: "I know what you're thinking Mr. King."
Now, the ending, as I've seen other reviews say, was a bit of a let-down, mostly because it was somewhat predictable. This is why I gave four instead of five stars.
Overall, just don't have sky-high expectations for this book, and I think you'll enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
To repent for my failure to write a proper review of Under the Dome, I've decided to give the good folks who stop by my blog from time to time-all are readers, I'm fairly certain-a firsthand, honest opinion on the merits of Mr. King's latest release. I'll be truthful, I was hesitant to drop $10.57 for a 132-pager. Hell, 52 of those pages aren't even part of the titular novella. In fact, "Blockade Billy" is only 80 pages-modest, to say the least, for a standalone King publication.

But, I slid my card, took this pint-sized hardcover home, and read. I wasn't disappointed.

King's a fairly die-hard baseball fan, but you don't really have to be to enjoy the story of William "Blockade Billy" Blakely. In fact, King is masterful in his balance of true-to-life, baseball-lover geekspeak and everday, plain idiot terminology that even the kid who prefered the sandbox to the softball diamond as a child (yes, that's me) can easily understand.

The story is told in a conversational style in the first-person in a clever interview-style perspective. The narrator is a former major-leaguer retelling his own account of Blockade Billy's short-lived baseball career from a nursing home years later, saying things like, "Now, Mr. King, you may already know this, but I'll try to tell it to you from my perspective..." Of course, I was at first scratching my head at this peculiar narrative style, but was quickly taken by its artistic merits and brilliant storytelling devices.

The start of the story's telltale King-ness-that is, delightfully unique weirdness-presents the reader with a fairly general idea of what's going on in the story early on, and while I was able to predict a great deal about the mysterious nature of William Blakely, King manages to surprise even the most alert, King-experienced reader with a fairly brilliant and unique twist at the story's delicious climax that is quite satisfying.

That said, the real gem of the hardcover is the included bonus short story, "Morality," in which a dying clergyman makes a strange, sinister request of a desperate, money-hungry woman, who accepts this request in hopes of attaining a better life and future for her and her husband (a writer, but of course that's no surprise in a piece of King fiction).

The playout of events, the escalation of the page-flipping climax, and the brilliant ending make for a resonant, extremely satisfying read that really outshines the titular novella. This story would definitely have been a terrific inclusion in King's recent Just After Sunset collection (my favorite King collection, despite what most would say-I thought "N." was life-changingly brilliant).

It seems that the more King ages, the more brilliant and reflective his fiction becomes. While some claim that he will never write a word to compete with his masterwork The Stand (I myself once held this opinion, actually), I believe that the man still has a great amount of steam left in his ever-evolving, always-impressive muse.

Overall, this tiny hardcover edition of "Blockade Billy" mostly just whetted my appetite for the upcoming release Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of four more novellas. I definitely got my ten bucks worth, if that's what you really want to know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 24, 2010
"Blockade Billy"

Major League Baseball has had many memorable players and teams but some, like William "Blockade Billy" Blakely and his team, The New Jersey Titans, are long forgotten. Blockade Billy was a great player, perhaps one of the best catchers of all time, but his existence has been wiped out of the record books - because tragically Billy wasn't what he seemed to be.

Stephen King is an avid baseball fan, particularly of the Boston Red Sox, and his love of baseball shows in "Blockade Billy". The story is "told" to King by George "Granny" Grantham, retired third-base coach for the Titans and you can almost picture King sitting there talking to the fictional Granny. The beauty in the story comes from the baseball details and the description of the camaraderie between the players. The story has all kinds of clever touches - the page headings look like the writing on baseball uniforms (check out King's picture on the back of the book) and the page numbers are in baseball diamonds. While the baseball aspects are well done, the secret behind Blockade Billy, while gruesome, is a bit of a letdown. King fans will no doubt love Billy's uniform number, but I expected something more, especially after seeing that number. I will say that Billy's actions are a bit ironic after recent events in major league baseball.


Like many other couples, Chad and Nora worry about money. They would like to have enough money to move to New England and Chad would like to be able to finish writing a book. Those wishes seem to be just dreams, until Nora's employee, the Reverend George "Winnie" Winston offers them a large sum of money. The catch - they have to do something that goes against everything they believe in. Can they do something like that for the money? And if they do, will their marriage survive?

"Morality" is an odd short story, even by Stephen King's standards. Some of the aspects of the story are quite good - Chad and Nora are a typical couple struggling to make ends meet not quite living paycheck to paycheck, but very close. While the amount of money Winnie is willing to give them for slight favor is more than tempting, for me the story falls apart when King reveals what Winnie wants Chad and Nora to do. It just doesn't make any sense - it is a cruel (and stupid) act in why Winnie wants it done is never explained (there is a sexual overtone to the story, but if that is his motive in needs to be developed more). The way Nora and Chad act after the deed is almost, but not quite, believable. All in all "Morality" has a skeleton of a good story, but never quite works.

Stephen King fans, especially those who are also baseball fans will enjoy "Blockade Billy" but "Morality" is a dud. ("Blockade Billy" was originally released as a collector's edition. Given the slim size of this book, only diehard Stephen King fans would want to spend that kind of money on a book that small.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2010
The new book recently released by Stephen King is actually two of his short stories put together. The book is only a 130 pages and surprised me with the easy way it read and the quick beginning to end rush unlike most of his books. He really showed me unlike his earlier collection of short stories Just After Sunset that he can swing along a short story just like any other.

The short that is the namesake of the book , Blockade Billy, was one of the best short stories I have ever read. Starting with King talking to George Grantham ,an old man in a nursing home, who was with the New Jersey Titans when baseball was informal and loose we hear the entire beginning to end story of William Blakely and how he played the most prolific and shortest career in the bigs.

The story begins with George explaining how they were in such dire straights at the beginning of the season. With their starting catcher in jail and their scrawny back-up breaking most of his bones in his first home plate collision . They desperately needed a catcher to play until they could make a deal or find something completely suitable. So thats how the Titans ended up with a guy from Iowa named William Blakely.

The opening day was going good from the beginning to the end until all that stood between a game deciding run and home plate was soon to be known as Blockade Billy. From the glove with the ball in it and the turned down shoulder the man flys over his shoulder and lies screaming on the plate. Hes declared out but it only starts from there. The man had a cut achilles and it was also strained but noone really assumes anything. Even though there was a few yells from the other team manager the game was alot rougher back than and noone thought a difference ,but thats where it only began.


Morality was the bonus story added onto The book. Its a story of Chad and Nora who were living pay to pay check and barely making ends meet. Chad was a substitute teacher and trying to make a book work and Nora a nurse who had been layed off not long ago and was just as quickly picked up as a private home nurse for retired Reverand George Winston who had left the ministry after suffering a stroke three years earlier.

Even though Chad was having alot of hope for his book and they were evenly skimming by when the chance for the money came by they still dashed for it in the hopes of financial stability They quickly took the ministers offer. All they had to do was fulfill the preachers wish of fulfilling a real sin. Nothing too serious but would it be enough to tear them apart?

This review also appears on my website [...]
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2010
Stephen King has written some of the greatest masterpiece novels of all time, such as It,Christine and Misery. He can write a great short story too, The Mist,Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption are just two examples of King's brilliance. With Blockade Billy and Morality (the other story that comes with this) your fighting a strong urge to just stop reading due to boredom, only continuing on because it's Stephen King and hey there must be at least a great scene coming up. There isn't.

Don't waste your time on what is simply a boring baseball story and another that's just trying a glorifying pointless violence to shock and be a talking point. Borrow it from the library, but don't waste any of your hard earner money obtaining these two stories that wouldn't even make the filler list in King's other short story collections.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2010
Read it and thought it would have been better included in a short stories volume vs. having to purchase it alone - not worth the price or the read for that matter...just ok...nothing too special.
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