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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 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars short story mania
Stephen King brings us another compilation of chilling short stories. I do not see this as one of his best books, some of the stories are extremely chilling and others are quite predictable. I would recommend this book to either a true King fan or a timid horror reader.
Published on 14 July 2001 by jennyh_uk@yahoo.com


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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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7 of 8 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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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
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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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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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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four out of four, 11 Aug 2006
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
Different Seasons is a collection of 4 novellas, and is notable for seeing King beginning to stretch away from writing just horror tales, though there is certainly enough macabre moments contained here to keep the more bloodthirsty fans happy. `Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption' tells the story of a wrongly convicted murderer and his escape from prison, seemingly a tale told so many times there's nothing more to add, but King transforms this into a beautifully moving character study. `Apt Pupil', while containing no supernatural elements, is certainly close to King's horror territory, being a disturbing a tale about a young boys blackmail of an ex-Nazi concentration camp commandant. A trifle overlong perhaps (this `novella' is around the same length of King's debut novel Carrie) but the bizarre double-blackmail relationship between the two characters is compulsive, and the dispassionate finale is memorable. `The Body' is undoubtedly the highlight of the collection, and certainly one of the best things King has ever written - a thinly-disguised childhood reminiscence fictionalised as a successful authors thinly-disguised childhood reminiscence - it captures brilliantly the coming of age from childhood to adulthood, and features some of King's best prose. Finally `The Breathing Method' is a back to basics old-fashioned horror story - all the basic tropes are familiar genre favourites: the mysterious gentleman's club where Lovecraftian things slither out of sight in upstairs rooms; the Victorian-style Christmas fireside ghost story - but King injects some modern-day grand guignol splatter horror to keep things fresh - slightly ridiculous, but good fun.

With four long stories in different genres, and every one in it's own way is successful, this is an excellent collection, and one of King's best books.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 26 Nov 2008
This review is from: Different Seasons (Paperback)
This is one of my favourite books.
We have four short stories, each around a bit more than 100 pages long and corresponding with the four different seasons. A tale of spring hope, summer corruption, a fall from inocence and a cold winter's tale.

The typical horror story is the one of winter and is chilling, i.e. normal King horror fashion.
But the others are something different altogether.
The horror of the summer story, about a young boy and how his mind is corrupted, you feel in the pit of your stomach. King, never one to shy away from graphic detail, creates a true atmosphere of foreboding in this shocking story.
The tale of spring is astounding, it gives you a true insight into a world anyone who has not been to prison has never seen. It's an inspirational story and leaves a real impact on you.
The Body - the one about autumn/fall - is about four young boys going to discover something morbid and how their journey towards it has a great effect on them. It's a really touching story, and it will move you to an extent that will stay with you forever.
Each of the four stories is narrated in true King manner, the characters being so real it's almost as if you know them personally. A great book.
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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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars short story mania, 14 July 2001
Stephen King brings us another compilation of chilling short stories. I do not see this as one of his best books, some of the stories are extremely chilling and others are quite predictable. I would recommend this book to either a true King fan or a timid horror reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars He's a great writer, 31 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Different Seasons (Kindle Edition)
This was Stephen King at his best. No accident that two of these novellas went on to be highly acclaimed films
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