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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More intelligent than horror
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.
Published on 11 Dec 1999 by kitty@mciancia.freeserve.co.uk

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Some are good, some not so good
some great short stories and some mediocre stories, and some weird ones too, but a good read never the less!
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer


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3 of 3 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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5.0 out of 5 stars King's First Literary Collection, 12 Nov 2014
By 
I am (re)reading King's works in chronological order. I read this book when it first came out. Up to this point in his career he had proven he was a master of genre fiction, even including the Bachman books which though not horror are still various genres. Here King now turns his hand to straight fiction with four novellas within this collection, bringing some of his finest work to date and proving that he can write pure fiction, even "literature".

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)
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM KING'S HORROR NOVELS, 14 Dec 2002
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
The four novellas featured in this stunning collection are a great example of how unjustly Stephen King has been labelled 'just a horror writer.'

Sure it was the phenomenal early success of Carrie, The Shining etc that was responsible for Stephen's 'Horror King' tag; but recent gems like The Green Mile and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon show how versatile this prolific and highly imaginative author of more than thirty books has been (you just don't know what he's going to do next!).

Three of the novellas in Different Seasons have been made into movies, and all are available on DVD: The Body is better known as the classic coming-of-age film Stand By Me (starring River Phoenix); there's the tense prison drama The Shawshank Redemption (with Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman); and then the Nazi holocaust thriller Apt Pupil (David Schwimmer). The remaining beauty, The Breathing Method, is a great little ghost story for that quiet non-movie night in front of the fireplace.

A novella by Stephen King standards, by the way, is nearly as long as a novel by most other authors. So four big books for the price of one ain't bad!
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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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to silence a King critic? Give him Different Seasons, 31 Oct 2005
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
For all those who doubt the fact that Stephen King is one of the all-time great masters at the craft of writing, there is Different Seasons. If nothing else, the doubters should at least acknowledge King's important contribution to reviving the lost art of the novella. King has always said he would write, whether he ever sold a single book - and I think that is completely true. He didn't write these four novellas with publication in mind; each one was written immediately after the completion of a best-selling novel - and each one just sort of sat there after it was finished. What, after all, can a modern author really do with manuscripts too long to be short stories and too short to be novels? Eventually, the idea came to King to just publish them together, with a title that speaks to the fact that these are not the author's usual blood-dripping, creepy-crawling horror stories. In doing so, he not only gave us four of his most captivating works of fiction, he showed a whole new generation of readers the vast, inherent power of the novella.
Three of these four novellas are even better-known than many of King's best-selling novels - due in no small part to the movie adaptations that followed in their wake. It all started with the film Stand By Me - which was not marketed as an adaptation of a Stephen King work of fiction. This was a smart move, considering some of the weak adaptations of earlier King novels. I can only guess how many impressed moviegoers were shocked to learn that Stand By Me was adapted from King's novella The Body. It's a story of four boys who set off to see a dead body, that of another kid hit by a train; their adventure makes for an extraordinary coming-of-age story. It is, in fact, a story about childhood, founded upon a mysterious event in King's own early days (he supposedly saw a friend hit by a train when he was four years old - but there has always been some question as to whether or not this is true); The Body feels autobiographical, and it truly does recapture the essence of childhood and the maturing process into adolescence. I like to think of The Body as a fantastic warm-up to King's later novel It, which captures the essence of childhood almost perfectly.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption gave birth to Shawshank Redemption, the most critically acclaimed and popular of all King movie adaptations. I think the movie is even better than the novella (largely due to Morgan Freeman), but everything that shines in the movie is here in the novella. An innocent man, convicted of killing his wife and her lover, gives new meaning to the term patient resolve - and has a profound effect on some of his fellow prisoners. I think it's the ultimate prison story, as it shows us the good and the bad of prison life and imbues its characters with a humanity rarely seen in prison-based stories. It's just a stellar piece of writing.
Apt Pupil is my favorite, though, and it finally, after years of fits and starts and rumors, was made into a film in 1998. The movie did make some changes to the original storyline, but it was a vastly underrated film that truly embodied the spirit of King's original novella. The most horrible things can oftentimes be the most fascinating. I know I've always been fascinated by everything that took place in the Third Reich. The teenager in the story, though, is obsessed with those atrocities, and that obsession turns into something increasingly disquieting and dangerous when he discovers a former Nazi living under another name in his neighborhood and blackmails him into telling him all the "gooshy" details of his part in the Holocaust. Apt Pupil is one of the most impressive psychological studies of evil I've ever read.
The Breathing Method sort of gets lost in the shuffle. It's shorter than the other novellas and has never been adapted for film. I really like this story, though. It has a classic fireside story feel to it, hearkening back to the likes of Poe, with its mysterious gentlemen's "club" and emphasis on story-telling. The particular story we are privileged to hear about is in some ways rather ridiculous and certainly quite melodramatic - yet it works extremely well. The novella was dedicated to Peter and Susan Straub, and I think it shows the obvious influence of horror maestro Straub from top to bottom (which, to my mind, is a good thing).
The Breathing Method supplies the theme that serves as a sort of mantra for the entire collection: It is the tale, not he who tells it. The story is everything, and the author is sort of a literary midwife who helps the birthing process along. I heartily believe that many a King critic would fawn over Different Seasons if they read it without knowing who wrote it. This book is a perfect introduction for those yet to experience King for themselves - these are, for the most part, mainstream works of fiction that reveal a master storyteller at work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Novellas, 26 July 2006
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
If you are in any doubt about the quality of these stories, consider the fact that 3 out of the 4 have been made into films.

Stephen King is known as a horror writer, but these three show that the man is one of the worlds best story tellers. They are not horror stories.

Shawshank as most people will know is a prison story. Some of this is harrowing and upsetting (such that they couldn't show it in the film), but it is essential for the development of the main character and I never thought it was gratutious.

The Body is a story about growing up and Apt Pupil is about a man with black past and his relationship with a young lad. Both are excellent and compelling reading.

The 4th story, which is as good as the other 3, is gripping and original, and a real page turner. This is more of a traditional King horror story, so if you buy Different Seasons you don't miss out completely on the horror front.

Of course what this book amply demonstrates is Kings marvellous story telling abilities, whether he is writing horror or not.
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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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Different Seasons
Different Seasons by Stephen King (Paperback - 7 Jun 2012)
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