Wednesday, November 25, 2009

#3 Different Seasons

It will appear a new tradition of mine to include the page number of the book. In this case Stephen King’s Different Seasons rings in at least the version I have. The book, which came out in 1983 (the year after I was born), features the tales of “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” “Apt Pupil,” “The Body” (a.k.a. “Stand by Me”), and “The Breathing Method.” I read this on the plane on the way to Seattle, on the way back from Seattle, and just now at home. Typically it takes me a good half a day to read a Stephen King book, whether that be The Long Walk or The Stand. He is my favorite author, I have twenty-seven of his books and therefore I devour his books when they come out. Lately, not so much (since his accident his prose has…suffered), which is why I have Under the Dome but I haven’t cracked it open yet. However his older stuff I read with reckless abandon. I mention this to let you know that while I am a Stephen King nut, it took me awhile to get through the book. Allow me to explain.

ShinyKate, in her review of King’s The Mist, actually sums up my first complaint of this book and I’m going to give you her quote to start. “What I think spoiled it for me was having seen Darabont's film adaptation. It's usually the other way around, but this time--for me, anyway-- the book [paled] in comparison to the movie.” Most of the time, and I say that loosely because its more like all of the time, a book to film adaptation sucks ass for the sheer fact that the book is ten times better then the troglodyte version that gets put on the screen. In the case of “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body” their film versions, The Shawshank Redemption done by Frank Darabont and Stand by Me done by Rob Reiner, are far superior in many ways. However, Apt Pupil, done by Bryan Singer, is the typical piece of shit compared to the book (despite the fact that a gay Jewish man played a Nazi), however I liked it before I read it. My second complaint is that he seems to stretch the stories out. Not just telling us what we don’t really need to know, but sometimes actually having a short story within the short story. In “Shawshank” it’s the continuation of Reds’ story that really isn’t necessary. In “Apt Pupil” it’s the tale of the Jewish man that recognizes Dussander in the hospital. In “Stand by Me” there are actually two literal short stories, Stud City and The Revenge of Lard Ass Hogan (which translated way better on screen because it just “fit” better then it did in the book). In “The Breathing Method” it’s really two separate stories. One should be titled The Breathing Method and the other The Club (which, by the way, would have been awesome in The Twilight Zone). So I guess I will continue to tackle this through individual stories.

“Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”
In almost everyway this reads identical to the movie. With the exception of a few things that I think overall are important but I suppose not so much to the bigger story…then again…maybe. I won’t give them all away but I suppose a few will heighten your interest in reading it considering how close it is to the film. Spoilers: How about, for example, that Andy gets raped by the Sisters? If you remember in the movie it flat out states that the Sisters never touched him, that he always fought them off. Not one of the first times…they got him. Or, for example, the younger guy that Andy teaches and who then gets killed for knowing the truth of his Andys wife’s murder? Yeah…he doesn’t die. He gets sent to a cushier prison in exchange for not testifying about what he heard. Last but not least in this slight spoiler, Red…is white. Ha-ha./Spoilers Overall the read is wonderful. The story actually allows you to get more of a back-story on a lot of side characters in the film. It is also told from Reds perspective, which gives you a lot more about the goings on of Reds life then it does Andy. The story is Reds. He just happens to be telling you the story of Andy.

“Apt Pupil”
Ohhh sweet Jesus what a clusterfuck fest the movie was compared to the book. The only comparison? Former Nazi talks to a young boy who is interested in what happened, Nazi has a heart attack, Nazi kills himself rather then go to prison when a former concentration camp recognizes him in the hospital. Yep…for the most part that is about it. The Todd of “Apt Pupil” starts out at thirteen, not about to graduate high school (although the story follows him to that point and, granted, the Todd of Apt Pupil is still only 16). While this may not seem as a big deal look at it from this perspective. At thirteen your mind is still much more susceptible to change. You are more vulnerable to being corrupted. You’re goo. This makes for the transformation of Todd in the novella much more disturbing. In the film they try and make it that Dussander completely mindfucks Todd. In the book it begins the other way around. Now for the fun again. Spoilers: Again, I’m not going to give you a lot, for the simple fact that I really, really want you read this instead of judging the story on the movie. So lets go with the fact that by the end of the book both Todd and Dussander have become serial killers…oh yeah. Or how about that Todd doesn‘t just crush a pigeon with a basketball but repeatedly runs over its head with his bicycle…slowly? Then again there are little things. In the movie Dussander goes outside to smoke and leaves Todd in the room with French when they have their meeting. In the book French lets Dussander smoke in the room and Todd is not even on campus./SPOILER Again, not anything serious…well, other then that first one. The story does get a bit long winded at times. Note the complaint I marked awhile ago. Overall though it is a very entertaining look at the way a person can change when molded by their own environment. Especially if that environment is by choice. When the star little preppy mamma’s boy turns into a stone cold psychopath, watching that evolution is something amazing.

“The Body”
Can’t really say much. Other then a few little character changes there really isn’t much to say. Spoilers: An example would be that Teddy in the book (he was played by Corey Feldman in the film) doesn’t really have any ears and he has to use a hearing aid. His father stuck his head to a stove. Also you may remember in the movie that they take a short cut through marsh and get covered in leeches. The story version? They just went for a swim because it was hot as shit outside. /Spoilers. Like I said, no big deal. This coming of age tale had several very redeeming qualities about it though. For instance the story almost seems to have been written more of like an autobiography. The character of Gordie shares a lot of common ground with King himself. While its known that King has written himself into stories (hello the Dark Tower series) this was different. It only provided in giving the reader a more personal feel to it. Another thing that is very prevalent in this one is King’s technique of using his other books in a newer one. An example of this would be in IT when the town bully is dying on the steps of the library and Christine from Christine pulls up and drives off with him. Let us not also forget to mention Derry and Castle Rock, Maine. The one that got a chuckle out of me in “The Body” was this one, “But these dogs never attacked Milo Pressman, the dump-keeper, because Milo was never without Chopper at his heel. Chopper was-at least until Joe Camber’s dog Cujo went rabid twenty years later-the most feared and least seen dog in Castle Rock.” Ahhh, Cujo, one of the first things that I read by Stephen King.

“The Breathing Method”
I don’t really want to tell you too much about this one. It is by far one of my favorite King stories. But let me go back to what I stated before. This should really be The Breathing Method and The Club. The Club would follow an old man who goes to a club for old men, where he can find books that were never published yet were said to have been and walk around in what appears to be a small place but has an endless amount of rooms and a timeless butler. The other, The Breathing Method, is the story of a doctor who has an unwed single mother in the 1930’s as a patient. The story describes the strength this woman has against the odds. The almost love that begins to form between them. And the crazy fucked up shit that happens when the baby is born. Its King. Its some fucked up crazy shit.

In conclusion? If you love The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me you may not want to buy the book. However, if you’re like me and get it for $1.50, read “Apt Pupil” and “The Breathing Method” and skip the other two. Its not a great book, but it is a good one. I miss Kings old way of writing. I miss the gory detail he used to get into. I miss the fucked up crazy shit he used to write that now seems more subtle and subdued. I guess coming close to death really does change people. He is likely now afraid of death. Which is becoming more and more obvious in his work. It was good to go back to Old School King.

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