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Hearts in Atlantis Paperback – 20 Jul 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New edition edition (20 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034073891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340738917
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.5 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 820,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Stephen King's collection of five stories about '60s kids reads like a novel. The best is "Low Men in Yellow Coats," about Bobby Garfield of Harwich, Connecticut, who craves a Schwinn for his 11th birthday. But his widowed mum is impoverished and so bitter that she barely loves him. King is as good as Spielberg or Steven Millhauser at depicting an enchanted kid's-eye view of the world, and his Harwich is realistically luminous to the tiniest detail: kids bashing caps with a smoke-blackened rock; a car grille "like the sneery mouth of a chrome catfish"; a Wild Mouse carnival ride that makes kids "simultaneously sure they were going to live forever and die immediately."

Bobby's mum takes in a lodger, Ted Brautigan, who turns the boy on to great books such as Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately, Ted is being hunted by yellow-jacketed men--monsters from King's Dark Tower novels who take over the shady part of town. They close in on Ted and Bobby, just as a gang of older kids menace Bobby and his girlfriend, Carol. This pointedly echoes the theme of Lord of the Flies (the one book King says he wishes he'd written): war is the human condition. Ted's mind-reading powers rub off a bit on Bobby, granting nightmare glimpses of his mum's assault by her rich, vile, jaunty boss. King packs plenty into 250 pages, using the same trick Bobby discerns in the film Village of the Damned: "The people seemed like real people, which made the make-believe parts scarier."

Vietnam is the otherworldly horror that haunts the remaining four stories. In the title tale, set in 1966, University of Maine college kids play the card game Hearts so obsessively they risk flunking out and getting drafted. The kids discover sex, rock and politics, become war heroes and victims, and spend the '80s and '90s shell-shocked by change. The characters and stories are criss-crossed with connections that sometimes click and sometimes clunk. The most intense Hearts player, Ronnie Malenfant ("evil infant"), perpetrates a My Lai-like atrocity; a nice Harwich girl becomes a radical bomber. King's metaphor for lost '60s innocence is inspired by Donovan's "sweet and stupid" song about the sunken continent, and his stories hail the vanished Atlantis of his youth with deep sweetness and melancholy intelligence. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Astonishingly good...honourable, deeply felt and almost wonderful (Independent)

'Astonishingly good...honourable, deeply felt and almost wonderful' Independent

'One of the most impressive books of fiction published this year' Locus

A writer of excellence...King is one of the most fertile story-tellers of the modern novel...brilliantly done (Marcel Berlins, The Sunday Times)

'Page after page, a truly mature King does everything right and deserves some kind of literary rosette. His masterpiece.' - KIRKUS REVIEWS

Accomplished...unputdownable...his mesmerising best (Robert McCrum, Observer on BAG OF BONES)

'Seductive...artful tales...the title story rivals his best work' Publishers Weekly

'A writer of excellence...King is one of the most fertile story-tellers of the modern novel...brilliantly done' Marcel Berlins, The Sunday Times

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Jan 2000
Format: Hardcover
For me Stephen King writes two very separate types of books. Most know him for horror such as 'The Shining' and the short story 'The Raft' - rattling good stories that scared me rigid, and made me avoid him for years.
'Hearts In Atlantis' belongs to the second group of works, such as 'The Green Mile' and 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption'. They are unsettling novels and stories that 'lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried', to quote from 'The Body'.
King's self-proclaimed theme in this latest book is the 60's, a decade that I am too young to have seen. He strikes a deeper chord, however - running through the five moving stories here is a strong motif of good and evil, of crime and retribution. Each important character has a conscious choice to make, and each must eventually accept the consequences of their decision.
As usual King writes with aplomb, and is able to capture convincingly the tone and atmosphere of his times. The supernatural stands out in chilling contrast to his deft treatment of the everyday. He shows remarkable skill in depicting both youth and old age, although if I had one minor complaint it would be that his 11-year-old characters in the first story seem a little precocious.
Resisting considerable temptation, I placed this book on my Christmas List. It left me moved, drained and reappraising my choices and direction in life. I can think of no higher recommendation than to say that I don't know when I will find the strength to pick it up again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 July 2000
Format: Hardcover
The book surprised me. I was used to reading books by King that were horrors/thrillers - such as the 'classics' Carrie, The Tommyknockers, Needful Things etc. However this book was different from the usual things I had read and after the first few pages I was addicted. The stories are well written and the content is more than satisfying.
The way the stories all linked together was great. When I noticed it was more than one story i was expecting that it was another short story book but dont be misled all the stories have something to do with the other and they all leave you wondering what else happened next.
Not all my questions were answered about the people involved in the book by the time I finsished it but I was pleased with the ending, which was in my view a very good piece of work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nickygrimshaw on 4 Mar 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As one of Mr King's "Constant Readers", I first read Hearts In Atlantis on its publication in 1999. Back then, I remember enjoying the stories, but that was about it. Nearly 15 years on, I downloaded the Kindle edition for a re-read and was blown away by them. I think this gap may be the key to the mixed reviews this book is getting.

Hearts in Atlantis consists of 5 interlocking stories about America's baby boomer generation. The first (and longest) story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats", is set in 1960 and is a beautifully told story about small town America and the end of childhood innocence. The child characters in this first story form the link that runs through the rest of the book.

The title story is set in 1966, and really sets the tone for the rest of the book. It's the story of a group of college freshmen and the madness that engulfs them at a time when "boys with poor grades one year are likely to end dying in the jungle the next year". The students discover love, political awareness, protest ..... and a highly addictive card game. The Vietnam War and associated draft hangs large over this story - as it does the remaining 3 tales, set in the 80s and 90s, as the baby boomers grow older and reflect on their lives.

So, why did the 15 year gap move this book from good to great for me? I think it's because I'm more mature (ok, older) now. Mr King is a generation ahead of me, and my view of life has definitely changed as I enter my 40s. The prevailing theme through Hearts in Atlantis is that of lost innocence and wasted opportunities - of looking back and saying "what if?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Mar 2010
Format: Vinyl
If you have read his book "On Writing" he has a small biography that parallels this book in nature. The story line and the details were intriguing. The only distraction from this was his constant potty mouth. He must have needed filler to flush (not flesh) out the book. I do not know if that is a recent phenomenon of they all are that way. The movies are not that way.

This is one story with a few rest spots that make some think it is a series of shorts. Do not attempt to read this out of order as each relies on knowledge of the former. The first phase, about the "Low Men", is the only real supernatural section. And as he points out it is the moral environment around the story that makes the supernatural scary. In this phase he also does a dissertation books including "The Lord of the Flies." There are real close corollaries to "The Day the Earth Stood Still" single mother, kid named Bobbie, and a mysterious border. The second phase Deals with a collage life environment, which is a background for molding character and characters. I do not want to tell too much detail, as that is why you read the book. The third phase is broken into two parts, one a story of Willie during and after Nam, then the whole set of previous characters surround by death and near death experiences.

The not so loose stories ingeniously ties together by a certain object that travels throughout the times to add as a catalyst and a conclusion.
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