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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 29 November 1998
I do belive this has to be one of his greatest works. It made me laugh, it made me cry.. It made me read it again and again...
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on 15 January 2015
A great collection of very bizarre, surreal stories. I think my favourites were popsy, the moving finger and umney's last case (took a while to figure that story out!). I really wasn't keen on 'head down', the baseball story. I know King is a huge baseball fan but it's really not that interesting to me and I had to skip it (the first time I've ever done that with a Stephen King book). The other stories more than made up for it though. A good read!
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on 27 August 2015
This is seriously disappointing. I am of course a King fan and have read most of his stuff. I usually really like his short stories (a relief from his usual endless but gripping 800 page marathons) but this is a major let down. Some stories are a downright disgrace, like the Cat, the 9/11 stuff, and most others are barely passable. The only one I liked was the Gingerbread girl, a bit poor for such a collection. I don t recommend this book.
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on 16 March 2000
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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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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on 31 July 2014
I bought this book primarily for the Shawshank Redemption but found that I loved all the stories and wasn't aware that other stories featured were also made into films - Apt Pupil and Stand By Me. The stories were easy to read and enjoyable, even though I'd already seen two of the movies - not realising they were Stephen king. Good edgy fiction that isn't the horror that I'd previously associated with the author.
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on 26 December 2008
this book i think is kings best work
it makes u want to read on the whole way through and contains lots of interesting twists and turns

really well written
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Here is Stephen King at his best. The writing, the philosophies of mind behind the stories, and the characters are ever more refined than those in his past works.

Each story takes us away on a different and absolutely unexpected journey, so that the whole collection provides more rich entertainment and thought provoking perspectives than a novel of the same length. The adventurous endeavours, surreal twists, and startling shocks are multiplied, yes, THIRTEEN times!

Happy reading! This is a wonderful book!
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on 22 February 2015
Very good short stories. I enjoyed a few, but one or two not so much. The Gingerbread Girl scared me, others made me nervous, especially; N. A Very Tight Place made me feel sick along with the ending of The Cat From Hell. They were good, keeping me focused and interested in the outcome of what was going to to happen next. As for Stationary Bike, now I'm getting one.
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on 7 September 2014
I chose this book because I had read others by Stephen King.
I really liked all of the stories.
Initially I thought there was going to be a link between them to tie them all together, but apart from a vague link between two, each one was a fascinating story in its own right.
They each give an insight into aspects of human nature, both good and bad.
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