If you know me personally, you know my favourite author is Stephen King. While I do not actively seek out anything related to horror, his books hold a very special place for me. I’m not sure if it’s his writing style, his versatile imagination, or his ability to make me shiver, laugh, cry, feel any kind of emotion so deeply while reading his books. He’s one of my biggest inspirations, and I own a good number of his books.
My copy of Blockade Billy comes with the short story Morality attached at the end, so I’ll be dealing with both of those in this review today.
I’m not a fan of baseball. It’s not even a thing in Malta. We know what it is, but we don’t know the rules, the lingo, nothing. The most popular sports in Malta are rugby and football; anything else is foreign to us. So admittedly, I skimmed through the parts about the game and just sort of took the gist from it. They won, they lost, Blockade Billy was good at what he did. While I wasn’t familiar with the lay-out of the game, I was able to visualize what was happening, completely thanks to King’s ability to describe things in the best detail.
The story is told like a transcript – a man is talking to King himself, telling him about the most famed yet disgraced player American baseball has ever seen. Blockade Billy no longer exists in the history books, with good reason. I won’t tell you what the story reveals, but the whole thing goes against the grain of King’s usual supernatural story telling and instead focuses on the ramblings of one mad man.
I enjoyed reading the story, because while it felt slow towards the beginning, every detail counts, and it’s a quick read for anybody looking for a quick break from reality in the form of a printed novella. Allegedly, King wrote the entire thing in two weeks. Honestly, if he did, that’s a feat to appreciate.
My favourite of the two stories on offer, the story deals with Chad and Nora, a married couple who are down on their luck and desperately need some cash. Chad is a substitute teacher who wants to publish a memoir about his time working in public schools. Nora is an ex-nurse who now works as a home nurse for an old Reverend. The story details the rise and subsequent fall of their relationship, when they come into a large sum of money through some very unconventional means, that leaves them wondering if maybe they did the right thing or not (or maybe, if they enjoyed doing what they did a bit more than they should have).
The story, I feel, really works with the style King has established over the years. With a few simple words, you can really tell the kind of relationship Chad and Nora have; without revealing too much, King manages to set the stage so wonderfully, so eloquently, that you’re not left gasping for air. Rather, you’re satisfied with what you get, and even though the story isn’t the happiest, I found myself eating it up and enjoying every word.
The short story raises some very interesting questions, and may leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, but I assure you that reading it is worth it.
Final rating: 4/5. I urge any fans of Stephen King to grab this book ASAP and sit down and just read. You’ll finish it in one sitting, guaranteed.
Quotes I Liked: