- Series: Signet
- Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (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: 697 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Different Seasons (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 1983
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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
“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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This is a collection of four different novellas, and I don’t think that they all deserve 5 out of 5 star ratings, but I think that the first, Hope Springs Eternal, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, is worthy of that rating, and makes the entire collection worth buying. Overall, this is a superbly written tome, with different subject matters and storytelling styles… the characters are thoroughly compelling (three of these have been turned into movies, some of which were Oscar-nominated), and the writing is somehow both crisp and evocative.
Four seasons, four novellas is the basic premise of this collection.
Spring: Hope Springs Eternal, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (the basis of the movie The Shawshank Redemption): Easily my favorite in the collection (and one of my favorite movies as well — incidentally, the movie did a wonderful job translating this off the page, with just a couple key creative license-type diversions). We’ve got Andy, the honest man who only becomes a criminal after entering prison; Red (who’s actually Irish in the book, hence the nickname), the guy who knows how to get things; and their gang of friends trying to make it through day after day, year after year. The story has a darker feel (compared to the movie), but unfolds very believably, with an ending that’s just a tiny bit different than the one in the movie…
Summer: Summer of Corruption, Apt Pupil (made into the movie by the same name): a disturbing portrayal of a young boy who’s obsessed with Hitler and the Nazi regime as a whole. It’s actually kind of a horrifying and horrifyingly mesmerizing read, though slow on the action for much of the book — it’s the kind of portrayal that makes you think people are much darker than you might think, and has you questioning that perfect Boy Scout neighbor from next door. From a story perspective, it was spooky, but there was less character development and more just… wow, kind of creepy kid who’s really obsessed with dark, dark themes…
Fall: Fall from Innocence: The Body (made into the movie Stand by Me): Kind of a growing up story about four twelve year-old boys who were trying to find the body of a missing boy. It doesn’t have the same climax as the other stories, but is a well-written coming of age story, with a lot of well-written prose showcasing childhood friendships, all set in the heart of rural America.
Winter: A Winter’s Tale: Breathing Method: I can’t say much about this one. I don’t often read horror, it gives me nightmares, and I did a very loose skim of it, just to say that I had read it. I think it’s probably good, for horror? Since that’s King’s main fare?
Comparisons to Other Authors/Books:
First, you really, really should not be comparing three out of four of these novellas to to the more mainstream Stephen King novels. I think King’s a talented writer, but there’s a big difference between his horror stories (and even his fantasy) and this particular novel, which I think lives more firmly in the “literary fiction” realm. From a lit fic point of view, I feel like some of the story and setting elements remind me of Richard Russo (who has a lot of stories where the setting/town is almost part of the action), and the coming of age parts remind me of various Tobias Wolff short stories.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption - This story is the narrative of a lifer at the prison called Shawshank. Shortly after he is incarcerated along comes a new inmate named Andy Dufresne. Andy has a huge impact on our narrator and he tells us Andy's story along with what life is like inside a maximum security prison. A gritty dramatic prison tale that held me fast from beginning to end. (5/5)
Apt Pupil - This gets close to what we've come to expect from King. Not a horror story, by any means but a thriller; a psychological thriller. I couldn't quite remember this story at first but it all came rushing back as I started to read. A 14 yob is fascinated with the death camps of the Holocaust and after some detective work finds out a neighbourhood man is an SS Nazi in hiding, blackmails the man into telling him all about the details of what really happened at the camps and the two form a respect/hate relationship that lasts for the rest of their lives until what drew them together pulls them apart with vengeance. A bit hard to read at times (these are sick individuals) but an unputdownable read! (5/5)
The Body - I was looking forward to re-reading this one the most as "Stand By Me" is one of my all-time favourite movies that I've seen many times. I know the story impressed me the first time but upon re-reading, I find the movie is too firmly stuck in my mind. The story is, of course, good but it is very long and very retrospective more than having action. We are a party to the narrator's thoughts and this is truly a piece of literary coming of age work. I'm glad to have read it again and feel nostalgic and melancholy afterwards but, as Ive said, the movie remains foremost in my mind. I could not help but picture the actors, especially Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman. Feldman's character Teddy is quite different in the story and it was hard for me to reconcile the two. Vern, Jerry O'Connell's character, is completely re-written so him I didn't picture plus he is the least dominant character in the story, whereas he has an equal role in the movie. This story has tie-ins to the Stephen King universe with Sheriff Bannerman being mentioned a couple of times, only since this takes place in the fifties he is only a Constable at this point and Shawshank prison (from the first story in this book) is now part of canon, being mentioned twice. (5/5)
The Breathing Method - This is the only story from this collection that I didn't remember at first and the re-read didn't bring it back to mind either. So it felt new to me. This is a tale of the macabre and the closest to what we would expect from King, in this collection. It is also the weakest, in my opinion. It's firstly, a story of a men's club where they gather and tells stories, sometimes scary but not always, though Christmas is always an unusual or weird tale. There is something unsettling about this club and our narrator at times tries to discover what it is but never has the nerve to fully go all the way, realizing, as we do, that he is better off not knowing the club, the host and the house's secrets. Secondly, the story narrates a tale one icy, stormy Christmas of a young pregnant woman who dies in an horrific accident on the day she goes into labour. I actually found this boring at times, way too much time was spent on describing "The Breathing Method" otherwise known as Lamaze that it felt scholarly. My least favourite story in the book. (3/5)