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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like finding an old friend
I first read this book when I was at school studying for my finals. It struck me then that Stephen King is much much more than a magnificent horror writer, he is also a sensitive writer with a knack for observation.
I have, of course, read the book again since then and I must confess that it's impact on me has grown in the intervening years. Whilst before, I could...
Published on 16 Mar. 2000 by r.shorthouse@bell.ac.uk

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite compilation
Whilst this was quite good with some interesting stories, I have to say that I didn't find it as compelling as some of his other short story compilations. A lot of the material in this book almost felt "Experimental", and a few of the stories left me somewhat underwhelmed. One or two classics in the mix, but not enough to make this volume anything special for me.
Published 3 months ago by Bazz


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like finding an old friend, 16 Mar. 2000
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
I first read this book when I was at school studying for my finals. It struck me then that Stephen King is much much more than a magnificent horror writer, he is also a sensitive writer with a knack for observation.
I have, of course, read the book again since then and I must confess that it's impact on me has grown in the intervening years. Whilst before, I could find a great deal of entertainment in the stories, I can now appreciate them on a deeper level. There is a sense of empathy that is kindled by the characters in the tales. Although I am not in jail like Andy Dufresne, i often feel trapped in certain siuations and can often be overwhelmed with the feeling that each day will be exactly like the last.
If I was looking for a favourite among the four novellas contained in the book, I would plump for The breathing Method. It is a polished, expertly written tale of triumph over adversity and animates perfectly the strength of will that we mere mortals can sometimes display.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection, 4 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
'Different Seasons' is a collection of four novellas by Stephen King. I haven't really read many novellas in the past but I found these four to be the perfect length. More than a short story, and less than a novel, the novella is an interesting genre and a difficult form to get right but Stephen King does it perfectly as usual.

The first novella, 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption' was an interesting tale of a man's wrongful imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. There were some good twists and the narrative reminded me a little of 'Green Mile'. First Person point of view is definitely one of King's strong points.

The second novella, 'Apt Pupil' really gripped me. It showcases the power struggle between a teenage boy and the Nazi war criminal he has discovered living in his quiet suburban neighbourhood. Parts of this story had me wanting to close my eyes and the dream sequences were pretty horrendous. It was a fascinating read though and it really stuck with me for days.

This was followed by 'The Body', the basis for the film 'Stand by Me'. Told from the point of view of the adult Gordie, the novella centers around young Gordie and his friends adventure to go and ind the corpse of a boy their own age who died when he was hit by a train. That's the surface of it anyway. Really, the novella is about friendship, about family and the expectations that life throws at us. It's about the choices we make and the fact that sometimes, though we think we might have a choice, our lives are mapped out for us before we even have a chance. Having watched 'Stand by Me' several times, I was really surprised by how much the screenplay stayed faithful to the original source. At times, I felt as though I was reading the script, it was just so familiar.

The fourth novella, 'The Breathing Method' was probably my favourite from the collection. It's definitely the closest to what I think of as classic Stephen King. An ageing Doctor tells the story of a patient he treated in the early days of his career, an unmarried pregnant woman who despite the convention of the times, will do anything to give her unborn child the life it deserves. It's pretty chilling and while you know that what happens is impossible, the thought still lingers that it might just be possible, that it could really happen. That's the power of Stephen King for you. His writing always makes you suspend your belief in reality. And only the best writing can do that.

All in all, I loved this collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars King At His Very Best, 3 July 2012
By 
James Angus "James Angus" (Washington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
Even though Stephen King rose through the ranks of publishing to make his name in the horror genre, some of his best work lies outside genre. This book, collecting together four novellas, is a breathtaking and startling tour-de-force the likes of which have not been seen for many years. From the opening story - "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" - to the last - "The Breathing Method" - the stories are clear, lucid and compelling.

The Shawshank Redemption is probably one of the most famous stories ever told - and the movie currently holds the #1 spot on IMDB. It is the story of an inmate at the Shawshank Prison, Red, and the years he spent watching a banker accused of two murders. It's not a horror story, although there are moments that make you feel a bit creeped out, and it's one of the best he has ever written.

Apt Pupil is a totally different story, about a teenage boy's affiliation with a Nazi war criminal. It's a coming of age story, it's a horror story, it's the story of reminiscence and struggling redemption.

The Body - turned into the fantastic movie Stand By Me - is another coming of age story, this time between a group of boys who discover a dead body.

The Breathing Method is probably the one story that isn't as good as the rest, but three out of four ain't bad, right? It's the story of a group of men who like to tell stories - and this story is a bit corny, a bit cheesy, but still a fun trip into the darker side of life.

If you love Stephen King, dramas, horror, mystery, suspense and coming-of-age novels, then this collection is right up your street. If you don't read horror, then this could be your introduction to Sai King and his fully-realised world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Varied., 14 Sept. 2011
By 
Scheherazade (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
In my opinion, Nightmares and Dreamscapes is one of King's most varied collections. It contains everything from the gore-streaked (Home Delivery, The Moving Finger), to the quiet and thoughtful (It Grows on You, My Pretty Pony), a sci-fi tale (The House on Maple Street), and a couple of Bachman/Stark efforts (The Fifth Quarter, My Pretty Pony again). There's also a tele-play script (Sorry, Right Number), a piece of sports journalism (Head Down), a poem (Brooklyn August), and a couple of pastiches (The Doctor's Case, Umney's Last Case), along with the Lovecraftian-inspired Crouch End.

There are some genuine curios here -- but there are also a lot of classic King stories, and if you wanted to provide someone with a taster of King's work, this would be a good choice. The tales span King's career up to the point of the volume's publication in 1993, from early tales to contemporaneous creations.

Of course, this could see it accused of being a collection of sub-standard work, stories that weren't quite good enough to make it into other collections. This is something King himself discusses in the introduction and notes -- a lot of these tales have been published elsewhere in marginally different forms, and some were cut from previous volumes. Even so, these tales don't come across as second rate in the slightest -- the variety means that not everyone will like or appreciate every tale, but also that there's something for everyone. This truly is a volume that could appeal to everyone, as it showcases horror in all its various guises and forms, and demonstrates its versatility in a way few others can.

The perfect introductory volume -- and great for any King fan. If horror is your thing, you really don't have anything to lose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars King is a GENIUS, 29 July 2003
By 
Son of King (Yorkshire, England, U.K) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
I decided to buy this book because I saw the film 'Apt Pupil' (Bryan Singer) on TV and thought it was a really good film. At first, I was only really bothered about reading the Apt Pupil novella and that is the one I flipped to straight away when I recieved the book from Amazon. From the first page I was hooked and finished reading it in a about a week. I couldn't put it down, every night during that week I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning (but it was worth it). This novella is EVEN BETTER than the film (which is also extremely good in its own right)! I expected the novella to have almost exactly the same plot as the film, but boy was I in for a surprise.
Events in the film would have probably been more surprising if it stayed closer to the book. Apparently, there was a film version of Apt Pupil made in the late 80's but production stopped and the film was never released. I would like to see this version (or what there is of it) out of interest, to see if it is even closer to the book than Bryan Singer's version.

'Apt Pupil' is about an undetected Nazi war crimnal (Kurt Dussander AKA Arthur Denker) living in an American suburb. A school boy called Todd Bowden who has a morbid fascination with WW2 Nazism discovers Arthur Denker's true identity. Todd Bowden blackmails Dussander, telling him that he will keep quiet about his true identity in exchange for 'stories' about the atrocities committed in the concentraion camps during WW2. Atrocities that he himself committed, Todd wants to hear these accounts first-hand. From this, a relationship develops that plunges deep into the recesses of human evilness and which produces disasterous consequences.
When I reached the final pages of Apt Pupil where Todd is "King of the world" a thunder storm suddenly broke out while I was reading it, it was almost surreal, like it somehow represented Todd's complete and final descent into absolute insanity. But, the strange thing about Apt Pupil is that you don't even like either of the main characters, in fact, you despise them. But the book leaves you wanting to know no more about them. And whilst reading the book, you just HAVE TO KNOW what happens to them in the end.
Although I only really bought the book to read Apt Pupil, I HAD TO read the rest of the novellas. 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Body' are equally as excellent. 'The Breathing Method' is quite good, but is the worst one out of the lot in my opinion.
'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption' is about a man called Andy Dufresne who is falsely convicted and imprisoned for murdering his wife and a man she was having an affair with. In prison Andy befriends a man nicknamed Red ("the man who can get you things"). The novella portrays the horrors endured and Andy's persistant struggle to reclaim his freedom. The story is told through Red's eyes.
'The Body' is about 4 boys who go on an adventure to see a dead body. The novella not only shows the problems the boys face in reaching the dead body, but also deals with the problems the boys face in their own lives. It is a coming-of-age story with many strong underlying themes.
'The Breathing Method' is about a woman who is unmarried and pregnant (nothing unusual today but I think it is meant to be set in the time when illegitimacy was severely frowned upon). The story is told by a member of a club, who was the doctor that befriended the preganant woman when he was younger. There are really two different dimensions to this story; that of the club, and that of the pregnant woman.
I would highly recommend Different Seasons to anyone, it is a real page turner and a gripping read. It is much different to King's usual supernatural horror work. It is still horror no doubt about it, but in a more feasible, real-world sense (apart from 'The Breathing Method' that is). I really wish King would write more non-supernatural stuff like this, I personally think it is his best work to date. King is the KING of fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Brooklyn Bridge, Over and Over Again, 9 Jun. 2011
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
In his introduction to this collection, Stephen King recalls being a credulous youngster who believed all sorts of things--from the reality of Santa Claus to Richard Nixon's plan to get the country out of Vietnam. He is still like this, and willingly accepts the recurring disappointments in exchange for the ability to believe in a story and bring it to life. In this collection, his third following Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, King believes into existence twenty-two stories--and one nonfiction piece--intended to scare the reader "...so badly you won't be able to go to sleep without leaving the bathroom light on." Some of them deliver all too well.

Three of my favorites:

In "Dolan's Cadillac" we live through years of obsessive investigation and planning for revenge. A man traps the mob boss who ordered his wife's death and systematically covers up all evidence of his crime. Perfect.

If you could remove mankind's violent tendencies and bring about "The End of the Whole Mess" of murder and war, you would do it, right? Even if it wasn't the smartest thing to do.

In "Suffer the Little Children" we meet Miss Sidley, a teacher who has been taking care of children all of her adult life. One day her students begin acting strangely...so she takes care of them.

This book is highly recommended for Stephen King fans and readers who enjoy a well-crafted story that makes their brains squirm for a day or two after reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More intelligent than horror, 11 Dec. 1999
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
It's stephen King, and another collection of "horror" stories. But if you're looking for unsightly festering wounds, and big bad creepy things: Avoid. If on the other hand you're looking for a more complex psycholigical novel(s), based on character rather than "ickiness" factor you've just found yourself an armchair partner.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 4 Jan. 2009
By 
Jeffrey M. Black "jblack437" (Stockport) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
Any writer would give their eye teeth for for just one of these story ideas. It's a mark of King's genius that he can almost throw them away as short novellas (though he does churn them out a little too often these days).

When I casually remark to non-Constant Readers that 'Stand by Me' and 'Shawshank Redemption' are Stephen King stories, I enjoy seeing their looks of surprise. In some people minds, he's been stuck in a horror category with hacks like James Herbert. This collection firmly dispels that notion as he investigates adolescence, corrupting evil and the triumph of the human spirit and rounds it off with a creepy fireside tale.

Of course horror is present here, but it's of the non-supernatural variety. The apparent feelgood tale of teenage camaderie centres around the very boyish desire to see a real dead body - only to confronted and changed forever by the ordinariness of death. Meanwhile, another teenager's morbid curiousity about Nazi death camps sees him change from perfect (if slightly arrogant) student into a monster as he discovers a war criminal lives locally.

Most people will pick this up for 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption'. I'd read this before I'd seen the film, so I'm not sure what it must be like for people who do the reverse. However, reason the film is successful is that it sticks to the plot and brings the characters to life.

The final story, 'The Breathing Method' is almost overlooked because it follows three tales where King is at the absolute peak of his dark powers. Whilst not quite as compelling as its predecessors, it's still a damn fine read.

The next time you hear somebody sneering at you for reading cheap trash like Stephen King, just hand them a copy of this. If they're still sneering after that, it's their loss.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A spectrum of emotions in four short stories..., 14 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
I picked this book up a couple of years ago with the intention of using my own imagination to re-structure two of my favourite films, Shawshank Redemption and Stand by me. However, on finishing the anthology, I was struck by, as a first time King reader, the man's extraordinary gift of involving his audience, both spiritually and emotionally. Shawshank proved better than its celluloid counterpart, with a greater sense of character evoked in both Andy and Red. The Breathing Method proved a revelation, a tightly maintained and chilling tale. Admittedly I found Apt Pupil a little long winded, I felt that the story lacked the same superior character driven element as the other tales. For me the real triumph was The Body. As someone who has lost a dear friend, I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when reading King's description of Chris's death, as it's poignancy and sensitivity was beautifully crafted and handled. Buy this book now...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art of the Novella, 11 July 2007
By 
D. Thompson (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
Different Seasons is a collection of 4 novellas, each set in a different season. The stories do not interlink except for a few minor references to each other here and there.

The most notable thing that will first hit you upon reading is that none of the stories are horror, as you may have expected from Stephen King.
What you get are four beautifully crafted individual stories. However, it must be said that each story still does hint upon certain 'horror aspects', but I believe this to only be part of good storytelling and not King slipping into his usual typecast role. The final story 'The Breathing Method' has the strongest connection to horror, being very reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe story.

Three of the stories have been made into films, The Shawshank Redemption, The Body (Stand by Me) and Apt Pupil. So the likelihood is that you may have already seen at least one of the adaptations. Do not let this pass you up on reading Different Seasons. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption as well as Apt Pupil in novella form are far superior and enjoyable to their movie counterparts.

My personal favourite of the novellas in Different Seasons is Apt Pupil. The sheer human psychological torture and overall bleakness makes an outstanding read. It pushes far beyond what a film of our time would DARE to reference to. I should perhaps warn you of the bleakness you will find whilst reading it. But the human condition is a strange thing, and you will find yourself at times questioning why and how you are being entertained by reading it. Amazing.
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Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King (Paperback - 7 Jun. 2012)
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