Different Seasons

Stephen King, Different Seasons - Viking Press, 1982

Read from March 12th to April 14th, 2013

My rating: 2/5 stars


In the Afterword of "Different Seasons", Stephen King nonchalantly accepts to be seen as a horror writer. Far from be ashamed of this label, he frankly reveals he never tried too much to be anything else. 

Is putting your talent at work for what is generally considered a minor genre wrong? Not necessarily, if we remember some great gothic or fantastic tales that touched horror in a way or another (and the best example I can think of is Poe). It depends on how you interpret the capitalized words in the forth novella: "IT IS THE TALE, NOT HE WHO TELLS IT." 

Let's see. In the same Afterword, King tells us he gathered the four stories in this volume because they were not long enough for a novel but too extensive for a short story to be published in a magazine. However, the author shows his care for an equilibrate composition in linking them with some narrative hooks (and what fine hooks they are!): the names of the four seasons, two used as verbs (Hope springs eternal, Fall from Innocence) and two as nouns (Summer of corruption, A Winter's Tale), the Shawshank prison spectre which appears in three of the four tales, the four protagonists - two adults and two children and the four different narrators: the observant narrator (who witnesses the story of Andy Dufresne), the omniscient narrator (who tells the story of Tom Bowden), the protagonist narrator (who remembers his ghastly childhood) and the multiple narrator (who build the framed story of Sandra Stansfield). 

Are these smart connectors enough to stress the "who" instead of "what" in order to reverse the aphorism? Not so much, I'm afraid. Every one of them could be genial, could be exemplary, but is only of some interest. The protagonists of the first and the fourth novella are dignified personalities martyrized by an indifferent society. The boy in the second story is a creep, a born criminal whose actions intend to give an answer to the celebrated nature versus nurture debate. The hero in the third (probably the most interesting of all, the three-star one) is a writer "en herbe" whose experiences force to grow up fast. 

Although they are not really horror stories (except the last one, maybe), they usually emphasize the sensational for the sake of it, exploiting it in a rushed, superficial journalistic style, not far from those articles with screaming titles in the tabloids. Are they better written than the latter? Of course they are and I would be a hypocrite not to acknowledge (in the same little voice one confesses about those little pleasures one's a little ashamed of but guiltily enjoy nonetheless) I rather like them. For Stephen King is a gifted writer, and it is commendable he found the way to exploit his talent and give us the best of it. 

Consequently, I can't help thinking Somerset Maugham's words fit his work perfectly, since it is truly in "the very first row of the second-raters".

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Comments (1)

Comments on Goodreads.com
  • 1. Comments on Goodreads.com | Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Arwen56 Wow! I hope you enjoy it, my friend!
Mar 12, 2013 11:45AM

Stela Calin Thank you, sweetie!
Told you I'll start it as soon as I'm done with Little fingers! Anyway, I think I saw The Shawshank Redemption movie, or I already read the first novella.
Mar 12, 2013 11:49AM

Arwen56 Also the movie is ok (it has the same title in English). A very good Morgan Freeman playing.
Mar 12, 2013 11:56AM

Stela Calin Yep, Morgan Freeman, definitely saw the movie - how could I have forgotten about it? Thank you again.
Mar 12, 2013 12:21PM

S©aP "...the very first row of the second-raters..."
The best way to say it (all).
(PS: not with my money)

Great, Stela.
Apr 14, 2013 10:44AM

Stela Calin @ScaP
I, sometimes, indulge - on the principle you cannot always be profound and too much thinking can tire you - hi, hi!
Anyway, the few King books I own are bought less than a dollar apiece at a Salvation Army Centre. Others I borrowed from Brossard library. This is to confirm that not with my money either :)))))).
Apr 15, 2013 04:58AM

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