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Different Seasons (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 1983

4.5 out of 5 stars 628 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Different Seasons (1982) is a collection of four novellas, markedly different in tone and subject, each on the theme of a journey. The first is a rich, satisfying, nonhorrific tale about an innocent man who carefully nurtures hope and devises a wily scheme to escape from prison. The second concerns a boy who discards his innocence by enticing an old man to travel with him into a reawakening of long-buried evil. In the third story, a writer looks back on the trek he took with three friends on the brink of adolescence to find another boy's corpse. The trip becomes a character-rich rite of passage from youth to maturity.

These first three novellas have been made into well-received movies: "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" into Frank Darabont's 1994 The Shawshank Redemption (available as a screenplay, a DVD film, and an audiocassette), "Apt Pupil" into Bryan Singer's 1998 film Apt Pupil (also released in 1998 on audiocassette), and "The Body" into Rob Reiner's Stand by Me (1986).

The final novella, "Breathing Lessons," is a horror yarn told by a doctor, about a patient whose indomitable spirit keeps her baby alive under extraordinary circumstances. It's the tightest, most polished tale in the collection. --Fiona Webster

Review

“To find the secret of his success, you have to compare King to Twain and Poe—  King’s stories tap the roots of myth buried in all our minds.”—Los Angeles Times

“Buy Different Seasons. I promise you’ll enjoy it….He creates people who are so alive, you can almost sense them.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make King the consummate storyteller that he is.”—Houston Chronicle

“Hypnotic.”—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Series: Signet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; First Printing edition (August 29, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451167538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451167538
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (628 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Seiler on August 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sometimes collections like this can be hard to judge. Most of the time the author will have ups and downs, with one story that may appeal to one audience and another which appeals to a different one. Different Seasons, however, manages to provide a good body of work that should appeal to just about everybody.
To be clear on the content of the book, this is actually two novellas and two short stories--both Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Breathing Method are both on par with such classics as "Bartleby the Scrivener." The format of the book is perhaps a little hokey--the stories follow the seasonal theme--but ultimately that artistic touch is irrelevant to the real appreciation of the book, at worst, and endearing, at best.
The stories themselves are excellent, a fact attested to by the production of three major films based on the first three of these pieces. The first presented is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and of them all, it's probably the best on the whole. The characters in the story are well written and, all things considered, it's really just a fine story with a positive message that you might not be used to seeing in Stephen King's writing. Second is Apt Pupil, which is more reminiscent of King's usual subject matter and tone, but still manages to provide an engrossing and interesting view into the nature of evil and the parasitic relationship that a man can develop with it. The Body is probably the most endearing of all the stories in the book, even if it is the roughest in terms of production. With a reflective, old-man-on-the-porch-in-the-sunshine voice, King is able to relate this tale of the loss of innocence and the passage into adulthood. The final tale is actually reminiscent of other, older authors than King.
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By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Different Seasons was the first Stephen King book I have ever read. I chose to read it after watching the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was interested in reading the story on which the movie is based, so I soon found that "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" was one of King's novellas in Different Seasons.
One of the ways I determine whether or not I like a book is if I become involved in the story; not as a reader, but as a character. If I can envision the actual events and feel that I am watching the story unfold, then the story is worthwhile and a pleasure to read. I felt this way while I was reading Different Seasons.
The first of the four novellas, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", was interesting to read. It was somewhat unfortunate that I had seen the movie beforehand because I found myself making many comparisons and contrasts. Nevertheless, I came to enjoy the story of Andy, Red, and prison life in Shawshank.
The story "Apt Pupil" was the basis for a recent movie of the same title in 1998. I have not seen the movie -- yet. I found this story to be the most captivating of the four; it left my eyes riveted to the page and I almost finished it in one sitting. The story of a young boy who becomes obsessed with a Nazi was well-written and intriguing how King built up to the final climax. By far, "Apt Pupil" was the best story in the book.
Next comes the story "The Body", which served as the basis for the eighties movie "Stand By Me" (I have not seen this movie either).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was very dark and frightening. This haunting novella, about a young boy's strange and perverse "relationship" with a fugitive Nazi, is quite thought provoking. King gets into the psyche of a serial killer, whether he is a Nazi or the salutorian of his high school class.
The former SS man and butcher of 800,000 now lives as a "kindly old man", hiding his identity from the world and charming the pants off of his "pupil's" naive parents. The "pupil", Todd Bowden (or the "boy", as Kurt never refers to him by name), is a bright and seemingly normal young teenager. Kurt brings out a dormant evil in Todd that he feeds with his nightmare stories of the concentration camps.
Kurt and Todd share a common bond and even though they have nothing outwardly in common. These commonalities are more telling than the exteriors they represent. They are both masters of deception and lies. They share a sick need to torture and hurt people and animals. Most of all, they lack a conscience and have no love or empathy for their fellow human being. Todd thinks of killing his loving parents and torturing young girls. He gets his kicks on murdering homeless drunks, as does the old man he emmulates. He hates this old man because he sees too much of himself in that rotting diseased old package, but he has a need, an addiction almost, to visit him and experience the tales of the massive slaughter. Separated by 65 years and countries halfway across the globe, the similarities between these two individuals exist nonetheless. The old man recognizes it and enjoys the company of one so much like himself.
King points out that in the deep dark places of the mind, there is sometimes an inward need to experience the macabre and horrific.
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