Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: Blockade Billy, by Stephen King

Blockade Billy is an odd sort of book. First of all, it’s hard to call two short stories a proper “book.”

Secondly, clocking in at about 150 small pages with words typed in large font, you can cruise through this outing in either one longer sitting or two bite-sized sittings. In other words, you’re not getting a whole lot of mileage for the fifteen dollar price tag.

Then again, people pay that price for a two hour movie every day so, you be the judge on that one.

As for me, I say fans of Stephen King’s work, especially those who enjoy sports, should definitely give it a go.

First off, I have to say a few words about the book’s presentation. It’s the amazing cover that drew me to the title in the first place. You don’t see book covers like this nowadays and I want to frame this one and put it on my wall.

Despite the package, however, the two stories are not suitable for the younguns, even if it does look like something little Tommy could read and then share with the rest of his little league team. Parents, you’ve been warned.

Blockade Billy is told by George “Granny” Grantham, former third-base coach for the New Jersey Titans. King’s ability to craft amazing characters shines brightly here as Granny shoots the bull and tells a colorful tale of a young catcher with a mysterious past and a short, tragic career in the majors.

The story is full of fantastic dialogue, quips and recollections and Granny clips along at a pace that demands you keep up, keep your mouth shut and pay attention.

While the story itself is interesting, it’s hearing Granny tell it in his expertly crafted voice that makes Blockade Billy a real winner.

The second tale, Morality, would fit nicely into just about any of King’s bodies of short stories. I would have preferred another baseball story, given the cover and theme, but that’s a small complaint.

In Morality, a man and a woman, down on their luck and hoping for that “some day” fantasy life all young couples dream about, are given the opportunity of a lifetime when a dying man asks the pair to briefly forget what’s right and wrong to fulfill his final wish.

The simple task he asks bears unforeseen consequences and, well, let’s just say nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

I enjoyed my time with Blockade Billy, the book, no matter how short that time was. I wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling otherwise, though. Whether the stories are worth fifteen bucks is up to you. I’m just here to tell you both of those stories are quite entertaining.

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