Author: Stephen King
Pages: 688 (paperback)
Published: November 1st 2007 (first published August 29th 1981)
Published by: Hodder
Each of the four stories, markedly different in tone and subject, present a journey: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is a tale of an innocent man who devises an exciting escape from prison; The Apt Pupil is the story of a golden schoolboy and an old man with a hideous past who join in a dreadful union; in The Body, four young boys venture into the woods and find life, death and the end of innocence and The Breathing Method is a macabre story told in a strange club of a woman determined to give birth…no matter what.
This book contains four novellas written by Stephen King: Rita Heyworth and Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method. They are four very different stories (though there are some nice little links between them, as often pop up in King's work) but all well written, and very enjoyable.
Apt Pupil was completely engrossing and quite chilling. A teenage boy unearths a terrible secret about an old man, and his actions drastically change both their lives in the following years. They get enmeshed in this tangled relationship of mistrust that neither can escape because of its very nature. You see the way their relationship impacts them and changes them, and the ultimately disastrous outcome. Wonderful read.
The Body was a bit different. It follows four young boys as they go to look at a body in the woods: Gordy and his friends Toddy, Vern and Chris tell their parents they're going camping in a nearby field, but instead follow the train tracks up to where they've heard the body of a missing kid is. Not a lot really happens, and I struggled a bit to get into it, but still liked it overall. The interactions of the 12-year-old boys were done well, though maybe it's a generational thing but their language seemed particularly foul for their age.
The Breathing Method was probably the creepiest of the stories in this collection. And the one which leaves the most unanswered. An old man goes to the meeting of his club a couple of days before Christmas and hears - as traditional - a story of the unnatural. We go back and see how he came to be a member of the club and some of the mysteries surrounding it. I found it a little annoying, namely in that tories are begun and never finished, and the mystery surrounding the club is hinted at but never really touched on. I would love for there to be more about this one! Unfortunately, there isn't anything that I can find...
All these books are enjoyable, and most of them wonderful in their own way. A great collection of short stories, and a nudge to me to read more short story collections.