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Different Seasons

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Includes the stories “The Body” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”—set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine

A “hypnotic” (The New York Times Book Review) collection of four novellas—including the inspirations behind the films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption—from Stephen King, bound together by the changing of seasons, each taking on the theme of a journey with strikingly different tones and characters.

This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.

Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town.

In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me.

Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,” hailed the Houston Chronicle about Different Seasons.

560 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1982

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About the author

Stephen King

2,528 books828k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,039 reviews
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,986 followers
January 26, 2020
January 2020 Re-Read update - original review still below

I have finished the next book in my chronological re-read of King's novels. I knew I was in for a treat because I have always fondly remembered this book as one of his best. It did not fail to disappoint the second time around.

In the afterward, King makes the point that this book was his first release to try and show that he was more than just a horror writer. I will say that this is true, but it does still have some horrific elements. So, don't go in thinking it is all cute bunnies and cuddles!

This book is raw and real. The human condition, temptation, coming-of-age, salvation, etc. are all on display in an amazing showcase of storytelling. While it may not represent King's horror as well as others, there is a definite case to be made for this being the finiest writing he has ever done.

One observation in the re-read (and I kind of remember this from the first time around): there is a short story within The Body unrelated to the main story, Stud City, and it doesn't really feel necessary. It is not a bad part or make the overall experience any less enjoyable, it is just the only tangent in the whole book that feels like it doesn't need to be there. If removed, it wouldn't change the book at all.

In conclusion - the re-read confirms for me - a 5+ star book all the way!


This book is PERFECT King! Each story is interesting and special in its own right. At least two of them ("Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Body") are must read classics that were turned into equally great movies. Apt Pupil might be a little less accessible to some, but is one of King's best character studies. The Breathing Method is one of his shortest novellas, but wildly creative and is guaranteed to leave you saying, "WOAH!"

Every King fan should have read this already. Looking to get into King for the first time? This is a great place to start!
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,291 followers
December 5, 2020
"Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."

Considered by many to be King's best collection of stories/novellas, Different Seasons contains two stories that were ultimately developed into two of the greatest movies of all-time: The Body, which became Stand by Me, of course, and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption - the movie is obvious, no?

Sometimes I really hate reading an awesome Stephen King book... no, I'm not crazy. I just get stressed about where I'm going to rank it in my top books list and what other books are gonna get pushed down the list!! Different Seasons is simply a masterpiece. Having read most of King's epic stories, I thought I'd seen King at this best - but no, this is his best. The writing, the characters, the storylines, it feels like everything is turned up a notch here. This is a prime example of how King is so much more than just horror.

Let's start off with Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Now I've already seen the movie, along with the majority of the population, but somehow that didn't matter. I still raced through each page, eager to see what comes next, even though I already knew the outcome! It's a story ultimately about hope, resilience and survival. Set against the backdrop of a bleak prison, these themes shine through even more prominently. A touching, emotional story and now one of my favourites.

Next up was Apt Pupil. Now I really liked this one. A former Nazi finds a willing student in young Todd Bowden and what follows is pure horror. The most unsettling parts of this novella were those wherein Dussander relays stories from the concentration camps in WWII. Having visited Auschwitz only last year, the atrocities that happened there just feel more real. This novella is a terrifying look at evil and the darkness that resides in these evil humans. Todd has to be one of the most hateful characters I've ever encountered in literature, a sexual sadist, a psychopath, just downright disgusting. Nevermind Dussander himself! Yet this story is absorbing, once it hooks you in, you can't get back out.

The horrific nature of Apt Pupil is swiftly followed by the nostalgic novella, The Body. Reading this novella is similar to being transported back in time to when you were a child, when all you wanted to do was hang out with your friends. You'd leave the house early morning and not come back again until it got dark. It's a beautiful story, and yet also quite tragic. Each of the boys come from homes or backgrounds that aren't entirely supportive and they are able to find true friendship and support within each other. In particular, the friendship between Gordie and Chris is touching, Chris is such a great character - wise beyond his years and he really cares for Gordie. Overall, this is a great look into those years where you "grow up" and relinquish your innocence, symbolised by the dead body out in the woods. Simply amazing!

Lastly, The Breathing Method - I actually read this one first as Abbie recommended to me. It is considered to be the "stinker" of the collection, and therefore I decided to read it first, so as not to end the collection on a bum note. But to be honest, I quite liked it! I liked the gentleman's club and their penchant for telling stories, it kinda sounded like a cool set-up that I'd love to be a part of. Miss Stansfield herself was a pretty badass woman, determined and strong. I don't really understand why people would forget about this one, or just cast it off as the "other story" in this collection. Granted, it's not as brilliant as the others, but it still left a lasting impression with me.

Overall, this book was just unbelievable. I lost count of the number of times where I just felt completely blown away by King's writing. This is a great, GREAT collection and now one of my favourite King books.

Reread throughout each season in 2020. Fantastic way to revisit this collection. Still one of my favourites. The Breathing Method resonated even more this time around.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,605 reviews5,986 followers
December 9, 2014
I'm going to try and do this book justice..but I know it's not going to happen so do me a favor, if you have never picked this book up just stop what you are doing and run get it.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption:
This is perfection. At 101 pages Stephen King packed a story that stays with me forever. I've been a fan of the movie version since the first time I viewed it. I was so pissed when Forrest Gump beat it out as the Oscar winner for best picture that year. I raged..I've since calmed down because Forrest Gump was a good movie also..but still.
I've watched the movie so many times that I can quote passages of it from heart, and I'm not really a TV watcher. If it comes on I watch it. If it comes on again the next day. I watch it. To this reader the movie is a bit darker than Stephen King's story.

This story is not horror. This story is about Hope..it's about picking yourself up every single day and keeping moving..it's about Redemption.

Apt Pupil:
To me this was the darkest story in the book. A young boy learns that a former Nazi general is living nearby and well he stalks him and then latches on to him. He honestly forces him into a strange relationship. They both are some of the most vile characters ever but you don't have to like the characters to realize what an amazing story this is.

The Body:
Another of my favorite films were made from this story-"Stand by Me"-I actually have not seen this movie in years but I will now.
This story is sadness of remembering your childhood friends and some of the crap you managed to survive.

Breathing Method:
This one to me started slow. Then when the story unfolded I sat here and shook my head. A woman's desire to have her child out-weighed every obstacle in her course.

And overall? This book was a full five stars. I would give it more if I could. It's hard to describe these stories. They aren't horror but they are about life. I wish I could have done them better justice..but I don't think there are words that can.

This quote is in the afterword of the book, where Mr. King tells how he got typed as a horror author..not that there is anything wrong with that.
I've been in love with these stories, too, and a part of me always will be in love with them, I guess. I hope that you liked them, Reader; that they did for you what any good story should do-make you forget the real stuff weighing on your mind for the little while and take you away to a place you've never been. It's the most amiable sort of magic I know.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
January 6, 2022
‎Different Seasons, Stephen King

Different Seasons (1982) is a collection of four Stephen King novellas with a more serious dramatic bent than the horror fiction for which King is famous. The four novellas are tied together via subtitles that relate to each of the four seasons. The collection is notable for having had three of its four novellas turned into Hollywood films, one of which, The Shawshank Redemption, was nominated for the 1994 Academy Award for Best Picture.

Novellas: "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "Apt Pupil", "The Body", "The Breathing Method".

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه آگوست سال2006میلادی

عنوان: فصول گوناگون: داستانی زمستانی؛ اثر: استیون کینگ؛ برگردان: ماندانا قهرمانلو؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، نشر قطره، سال1384، در992صفحه، فروست: سلسله انتشارات نشر قطره667؛ هنر و ادبیات جهان113، شابک9643415589؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

مجموعه داستان «فصول گوناگون»، شامل چهار داستان، در چهار سبک، با حال و هوا، و موضوعات گوناگون است، که در سال1982میلادی نگاشته شده است؛ داستانی زمستانی، یا «شیوه ی تنفس» را، «دیوید»، وکیل میانسالی، اهل «منهتن»، روایت می‌کند؛ او عضو باشگاهی می‌شود، که اعضای آن، علاوه‌ بر خوانش کتاب، به گفتگو، شطرنج، و بیلیارد بازی‌کردن نیز، علاقه‌، و حتی برای یکدیگر قصه نیز میگویند؛ «استیون کینگ» نویسنده ی آمریکایی، و آفرینشگر بیش از دویست اثر ادبی، در گونه‌ های ترس آور، و خیال‌پردازی هستند، که در این چهار داستان کوتاه نیز، خوشتر از پیش درخشیده اند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 09/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,080 reviews619 followers
January 5, 2023
It's definitive, Stephen King is not just a writer of horror and fantasy. In truth, up to a few years ago I was convinced he was a horrormeister pure and simple. At this point a friend suggested I try out his time travel epic 11/22/63. I was cured. I loved it and subsequent forays into King’s extensive catalogue have shown me the range of the man’s work.

I’ll comment individually on the tales but the common element, the outstanding take-away for me is simply the realisation that here’s the evidence to assert that SK is one of the outstanding story tellers of his generation. Any doubters to the veracity of this statement should pointed in the direction of this exceptional collection of novellas.

In truth, there is one story here I'd class as ‘horror’ – as it happens my least favourite of the set. The other three stories have been all made into films; the only one of which I've seen is Stand By Me (based on The Body) which happens to be one of my all time favourite films.

This is old fashioned storytelling at its best – miss it if you dare!

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Most people will be aware of the film version, which everyone on the planet seems to have seen except me. I'm told the film is a classic and I know some people who've seen the film and read the story – they all seem to prefer the celluloid version! If you’ve caught up with neither than I'd urge you to seek out one or the other. Set in a fictional state penitentiary, it tells of the local entrepreneur, Red, and his friend and customer Andy Defresne, who is imprisoned for the murders of his wife and her lover. Andy’s struggles to established his innocence while he fights for survival and strives to earn the respect of the ‘lifers’ in this toughest of environments is the core of the story. Surprisingly, King is able to invests the whole thing with a degree of warmth (though perhaps no surprise to anyone who has read The Green Mile) and it had me desperately hoping he'd thought up a happy ending to this sometimes brutal tale.

Apt Pupil

Sixteen-year-old student Todd Bowden has discovered that a Nazi war criminal, Kurt Dussander, has been quietly living in Todd’s home town. This disturbing tale documents how Todd first challenges Dussander and then how they begin a complicated but mutually sustainable relationship. It's the longest story in the collection and I sometimes felt I was reading this partly hidden behind a set of fingers. It's a tense psychological thriller that kept throwing up surprises. Spooky as hell!

The Body

Definitely my favourite – yet I think I still prefer the film. Just!
Four young boys from Maine set out to find the body of a boy who has been missing for a few days. They've discovered that the boy was hit and killed by a train and they aim to be the ones to claim the find and maybe become heroes as a result. It’s all a wonderful adventure as various mishaps befall them on the way. I discovered that the narrative of the film closely tracks that of the book and I defy anyone not to laugh and cry in equal measure as this brilliantly told tale unfolds. Superb.

The Breathing Method

A story within a story. An ageing lawyer is invited a a mysterious club where stories are told by its members. One such story takes up a good portion of the overall piece and it concerns a unmarried woman, in the 1930’s, who finds herself pregnant and desperate to give birth to the child, despite her lack of money and the obvious social disapproval. The whole atmosphere of this one was scary. It's the shortest of the four novellas but arguably packs the biggest punch.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
May 14, 2022
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption gets an 8 out of 12. A strong story turned to possibly an even better movie?

The chilling Apt Pupil, also gets an 8 out of 12. When petulance and cunning faces off against true darkness and more cunning! A chilling read in which a young man thinks he's uncovered a Nazi war criminal, in a story that doesn't take the steps you'd think it would take.

The Body AKA the movie 'Stand By Me' gets a 9.5 out of 12, a truly remarkable and heart warming coming of age novella, one of my all-time favourite Stephen King reads, and was gladdened to hear that it has been used in American schools as part of the literature curriculum. Hash tag cool!

And last, and easily the least compelling is The Breathing Method which I gave a 7.5 out of 12. You can't win them all :). But overall this collection is a monster, it's Stephen King contemporary writing at its best, and debatably aat a level that he never surpassed. This was King on a roll. A must-read for each and every reader out there!

2016 read; 2003 read
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,156 followers
April 3, 2020
Well......WOW! These four LONG-short stories are ALL fabulous!


"Get busy living or get busy dying."

Everyone has probably seen the movie adaptation or read the book by now and knows the story about the wrongful imprisonment of banker Andy Dufresne, the horror of "the sisters" and his best friend at Shawshank Red, but if you haven't, you are so fortunate to have this amazing read ahead of you.

The novel provides a bit more detail here and there about Red and Andy, is just as enthralling as the movie and unputdownable.

APT PUPIL -4.5 Stars - Just a very nice and intelligent 13 year old....uh huh. Todd Bowden wants to be a P.I. when he grows up and is off to quite a start as he sleuths out a criminal of the most vile kind; and as his true unsettling nature begins to surface, our creepy apt pupil gets a whole lot more than he bargained for when he goes up against the master.

Dark and powerfully evil, this unique story even has a cool Andy Dufresne tie-in, but damn.....why couldn't the butcher from hell stick to humans.....minus 50 basis points!

THE BODY (re-read) - 5 Stars - Four young lads head out on an adventure to see 'the dead body' but what they find is trouble and a few hard lessons learned. Absolutely wonderful coming-of-age story converted to screen as Stand By Me. (once again, the written word wins over the audio version for me)


"It is the tale, not he who tells it."

The club is creepy.....The rooms mysterious.....The weather chilling.....The fire roaring, and The ghost story.....OMG! SHOCKING!

Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,624 followers
September 21, 2022
الرواية الأمريكية الوحيدة التي قرأتها وسط الامريكيين!!و هذا ريفيو ليوضح ظروف قراءة الرواية و ملحق به ريفيوهات مفصلة لكل قصة

لقد اصطحبت هذه الرواية المحظوظة مع كتابين آخرين في رحلة اوروبية ادخرت لها طويلا في عام 2010 ..[image error]

و كفرد أصيل في الطبقة المتوسطة كان دورة دراسية قصيرة بإيطاليا ..و لظروف سرعة التأشيرة. .اخذناها من التشيك لذا كان أمامنا رحلة طويلة بالقطار عبر ثلاث بلاد ذهابا و ايابا.. ..و لهذا اسعد و قلبي يطرب بالطبع
و في رحلة العودة احتلت مكاني بجانب النافذة في الكابينة المغلقة التي تتسع لستة افراد...و دخل رفقاء السفر : أربعة في سن 18متبايني الاشكال ..أخرجت رواية كينج المكونة من 4نوفيلات و كنت قد قرات ثلثي القصة الاولى الخلاص من شاوشنك

و ويهتف آدم الذي يجلس امامي ..و هو يشبهنا كثيراً"اوه ملك الرعب و الغموض " و تحدثنا قليلا عن كينج و عنهم لاعرف انهم جامعيين جاؤا ليدرسوا تاريخ الفن بايطاليا لشهرين و في نهاية الاسبوع يتجولون في الدول المجاورة...منحتهم تذاكر لرحلة رعب ليلية في براغ .."رفيق سفري انا رفضها تماما!". .و هنا دخل البوليس ليفتش على الباسبورات
..لنعتدل نحن و نستعد للمهزلة التي اعتدناها
فما ان أخرج رفيق السفر جوازه حتى أظلم وجه الضابط و ارسل في طلب اللابتوب من زميله و أخذ يكشف على صحة التأشيرة بالعدسة المكبرة ..انتظارا لنتيجة كشفه عنها بالأنترنت ..و أخذ يسأله مرارا عن سبب السفر و يحدث أحدهم بالموبايل..و تجاهلوني انا كالعادة!!..بعد إطلاع سطحي في ثواني على تاشيرتي ..و سأذكر سبب التفرقة لمن يسأل

بينما أخرج رفاقنا الأميركيين جوازتهم الغالية..فلم يفتحوها اصلا..و بابتسامة واسعة و رجاء باعادتها😠 ..لم يفكروا حتى في التأكد من انهم أصحابها و لم يسرقوها !!؟

اخيرا عدت لروايتي.. و هي من اكتر الروايات التي تبث الامل في النفوس ..كيف "تحول خسارتك لمكسب" لكني فجأة فقدت تعاطفي مع "الأمريكي "المظلوم اندي دوفرين ..مع هذا الدلال الفاقع الذي شاهدته حالا ...قلت يمكن لان الفيلم حرقها..انهيتها..و استمتعت لفترة بمنظر جبال الألب المختلف في كل بلد ثم.. بدأت
Apt pupil
هنا دخل مفتش التذاكر ..نحن كنا في السن الذي يدفع أعلى ثمن للتذاكر 45 يورو لو قطعتها من هناك..و 90 لو قطعتها من مصر عبر شركة سياحة"سرقة صريحة" فنحن تحت الستين و فوق 26 أخذ المفتش يطابق اسماءنا و اعمارنا من الجوازات على التذاكر..فهي شخصية بالاسم في قطار اوروبا..و اخرج اصدقاؤنا جوازاتهم السحرية و تذاكرهم ..لتظهر ابتسامة المفتش..و بالطبع لم يفتح الجوازات. .كدت اجذب شعري من الغيظ حقا!!ا

اكتشف المفتش ان تذاكرهم اقل فئة بنصف التمن لانهم طلبة و لابد ان يجلسوا في درجة أقل !!و ليس في الكباين اصلا..و لكنه تجاوز عن ذلك مبتسما!!؟ كدت اموت كمداً

وضعت همي في عم كينج ليخذلني برواية بشعة قاسية عن تعذيب اليهود و غيرهم ايام النازي. . و سوداوية فتى في سن رفاق السفر !..و هنا ليزداد الطين بلة دخل شاب مريب ذو شعر أحمر و ذقن شعثاء و تبادل مكانه مع أحدهم لأكتشف انهم ستة ..لم ارتح له ...و استرجعت تجارب قاسية في رحلة الذهاب..قلبت على الرواية الثالثة. .الجثة
من المستحيل ان أنام و حولي أربعة اغراب اكيد.. كل من حولي نيام..اندمجت مع الصبية الأربعة..و رحلتهم في الخريف للبحث عن الجثة ؛نحن ايضا كنا في الخريف و يحتفلون به في اوروبا باعتزاز بمهرجانات لذيذة حقا..لم اسمع عنها و هي مليئة بعروض المهن القديمة و باليقطين المرح 🎃 و المشويات و ابو فروة و الكستناء الذي تملا اشجاره الشوارع..

ظل رفاق السفر يلعبون الكراسي الموسيقية بسبب البرد..انتهت الرحلة قبل ان اصل لآخر قصة و هي غراءبية حقا و لن ا حرقها
The breathing method ***
و إنتهت رحلتي مع الفصول الأربعة لكينج..و اعتقد أنني لو كنت قرأتها بعيدا عن الدلال الذي ناله الأمريكيين "كانوا ستة لطاف حقا عدا واحد"' لكانت نالت تقييم أعلي بعيدا عن الحقد البشري
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
April 25, 2020
This one is closer to the MOST EXCELLENT side of the King spectrum (THE GREEN MILE, CARRIE and THE STAND come to mind) than the MEDIOCRE side (INSOMNIA, BAG OF BONES). Yeah, these tales are familiar: three of the four seasons have become immortalized on celluloid.

Not until the last Author's Note do his intentions and his themes finally converge. He wrote "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "Apt Pupil", "The Body" & "The Breathing Method" as unpublishable novellas right after the completion of one novel each "with just enough gas left in the tank." Wow.

More than any pop culture writer, King is almost never a boring or dull read. I need to read him sporadically because after reading 20+* of his novels I know where to go to be entertained. (*Ok, just for fun: I've read CARRIE, THE STAND, CUJO, CHRISTINE, PET SEMETARY, CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF, IT, EYES OF THE DRAGON, MISERY, THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, DARK TOWER #4, THE DARK HALF, NEEDFUL THINGS, GERALD'S GAME, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, INSOMNIA, DESPERATION, THE GREEN MILE, THINNER, THE REGULATORS, NIGHT SHIFT, DIFFERENT SEASONS, FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT, NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES, CREEPSHOW, BAG OF BONES, EVERYTHING'S EVENTUAL, THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, CELL, LISEY'S STORY, DR. SLEEP) But I am no expert nor can I say I subscribe to the King Collective Mythology. Sometimes all his characters share the same voice, regardless of sex. It is all Stephen King.

This time, these stories were all non-Horror 'cept one. "Shawshank" saw a better reincarnation as the Darabont film--the novella is short, gives a "Cool Hand Luke" vibe, is an impressive testament of life on the cell block (GREEN MILE is the epitome of these).

"Apt Pupil" was very morbid, an "American Psycho" meets "American Pastoral." The film is also better because Ian McKellen doesn't "come out of the closet", so to speak: he does not admit being part of the Nazi party in a long ago past 'til much later. The movie hints at his monstrosity...King just shows it with as little censorship as humanely possible(duh). In the book he is a ruthless killer (expected for a Nazi) AND so is the kid, the apprentice (SHOCKER!). New Horror meets old school terror--very clever, almost poetic in its implications of suburban infiltrators that are not the boogeymen--they are the residents themselves. Also--the monster gene can resurface at any age with any generation.

"The Body", made famous by the ever-popular "Stand By Me" movie, is an idyllic tale that places the innocent naivete of childhood in the backwoods--where terror lurks. It is an obvious metaphor for growing up. Everything in childhood is fragile. The image of the dead boy, in sharp contrast to the robust lives of our four protagonists is quite intuitive for a fabulist like King.

Lastly, "The Breathing Method" is THE unexpected treat. It is so morbid and macabre... I had not been that shocked in a really long time. It is the exposed finger beckoning from the plumbing in the sink in NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES: an image that stays with you for years and years. If you are tired/superfamiliar with the aforementioned films, read the last 60 pages of this novella collection: totally worth it!

The four season motifs don't really fit the representative tales. "Hope Springs Eternal" for SHAWSHANK makes sense... you know this story will end well (after 27 years the dude escapes!). "Summer of Corruption" fits PUPIL except this story takes place over many DIFFERENT months, no particular season. "Fall from Innocence"---BODY occurs at the end of the summer (I guess that's not too bad a fit). "A Winter's Tale" is the forgotten gem of the book...METHOD is a story within a story (clever device indeed for the masterful storyteller).

King says "It is the tale, not he who tells it." This is incredibly true in this instance: the stories themselves, like the seasons, have unique flavors, have original themes; the stories are SO GOOD not even Stephen King could mess it up with his often-seen redundancy (none of that here!) or his mimicry of others' works (these are all 100% original).

This is, basically, one of his better ones.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.7k followers
July 3, 2023
I was so happy to revisit this collection last year with a group of my friends from Bookstagram.

This is such a well-rounded collection, in my opinion, although The Body will always be my fave!

A chunky book but so worth the time.

In fact, this was my favorite collection for many years, only recently surpassed by Full Dark, No Stars!

I'm not sure why I didn't add it on here last year when we read it. I guess the underlying take away would be that I am a dumpster fire with arms most of the time.

Take from that what you will.

Profile Image for Ginger.
787 reviews367 followers
October 5, 2017
What a great compilation of short stories by Stephen King! FANTASTIC!!

I knew going into this book that I’ve seen movies for two of the stories. I thought, “Since I’ve seen the movies, do I need to read the actually book?”

And that’s a resounding YES. A big HELL YES!

1st story: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

I’m sure most of us have seen this movie at least once or 50 times in your life. The book is so well done. There were subtle differences in the book vs the movie but it wasn’t enough to take away from the masterpiece of this story.
Shawshank is about redemption, revenge and hope. And King kills it with this one. Bravo King!!

2nd story: Apt Pupil

Woah! What a head fuck this dark story turned out to be. It’s about a story of a young kid who finds out that a former Nazi general is living in a house on his paper route. It’s a psychological, epic tale of who’s the worst and I haven’t decided on the answer between these two head cases.
I think evil tends to find evil in all arenas of life and this was a perfect example of that. I really liked this one!

3rd story: The Body

Or as most of you know it as, “Stand By Me”. What a great story!!
It’s about childhood friendship, dealing with shitty family members and coming to grips with doing the right thing. There is a level of conflict in this story that’s well written. You want these kids to succeed after all the trials and tribulations that occur in the journey in this book.
The movie and book were close to each other in regards to plot. It was nice to see the movie industry not changing much about this well-loved tale.
"Chopper, sic balls!"

4th story: Breathing Method

This story started slow and I wasn’t sure where it was going. It ended on a pretty creepy situation with a pregnant woman, a strange building in New York City and I’m glad I stuck it out. It was the weakest of the 4 stories but was still decent.

If you’ve ever wondered whether Stephen King is a good storyteller, read this book!
Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,430 reviews3,347 followers
November 5, 2022

أربعة قصص تمثل الفصول المختلفة ��ن الربيع و حتى الشتاء.
أدهشني أن يكون الربيع هو سجن شاوشانك الذي خلده كينج في عدة قصص.
القصة الأولي وداعا شاوشانك و لا أدري هنا إلى ماذا يرمز بالربيع؟! هل هو ربيع العمر الذي ضاع في السجن ظلما أم هو الربيع الذي بدأ بعد الهروب من هذا السجن الرهيب.
القصة الثانية الصيفية هي التلميذ النجيب. ذلك التلميذ المراهق الذي يتطلع للعمل كمحقق سري في المستقبل و يبدأ مغامرته بالتعرف على مجرم حرب نازي و يسعى لجمع أدلة ادانته و سماع قصته و لسيطرة عليه ثم ينتهي به المطاف ليكون هو نفسه مجرما لا يقل إجراما عن المجرم النازي.
القصة الثالثة هي قصة الخريف الجثة عن أطفال في عمر الزهور يتطلعون لرؤية جثة لأول مرة في حياتهم في مغامرة من أجل الإثارة و طلب الشهرة و المجد.
و القصة الأخيرة هي قصة شتوية يعلمنا فيها كينج طريقة التنفس و كأن للتنفس طريقة معينة لا تستقيم الحياة بدونها و يجمع فيها كينج بين الموت و الحياة في لحظة واحدة و نفس واحد كما يقولون فهو نفس خارج و نفس داخل في الوقت نفسه.
مجموعة ممتعة في مجملها و ان تباينت قصصها بين الجيد جدا و الجيد
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,942 followers
October 8, 2021
2.5 Stars

Meh.. I’m a minority here 😉

*Shawshank Redemption- 2 Stars - I liked The Green Mile better. Didn’t really like the movie, only saw it once. Love The Green Mile movie better.
*Apt Pupil - Eff this story - DNF
*The Body - 2.5 Stars - Enjoyed the movie more
*Breathing Method - 3 Stars

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,587 followers
March 25, 2017
I like waiting a few days before reviewing a book, just to see how it’s taken up residence in my mind and imagination. Some books stay with me clearly even months later; others start to fade as soon as I turn the final page (if not before).

Stephen King’s Different Seasons is a fascinating case, because I got to see how one story haunted me while I went on to the next.

Published in 1982, it was King's first book of non-genre fiction. He made his name writing horror (Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining), and after a string of bestselling thrillers, this book must have felt like a bit of a risk – to him and his publisher.

It’s a 525-page collection of four novellas (actually three novellas and one long short story). Only the final (long) story, “The Breathing Method,” touches on anything remotely fantastic or occult. But I appreciate the book for its boldness and generosity. Today, a popular author would release these 25,000-35,000 word works individually as books. Ka-ching!

Also: only by reading the book from cover to cover did I come to realize just how good and varied a storyteller King is.

The opening novella, “Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption,” is about hope and despair set inside a prison. The relaxed, casual tone is fitting for the narrator, who’s been jailed for decades and so is in no rush. Only near the end do you realize how and why he’s recounting his tale. (Note: he’s a skinny redhead in the book, not the Morgan Freeman character from the popular movie.)

My favourite novella – at 200 large pages, it’s also the longest – is “Apt Pupil,” a chilling look at the sick symbiotic relationship between a former Nazi war criminal now retired and living under an alias in a California suburb and a precocious boy who discovers his secret.

King masterfully alters his point-of-view and even introduces an important character two-thirds of the way through. But this adds to the book's richness. The thing is beautifully structured – not a word is wasted. And King shows you how evil can lay dormant and awaken, or how it can corrupt and influence. The conclusion is shocking but, in retrospect, inevitable (it differs from the film). And... um... that scene with a cat? I’d say it’s as effective as anything King’s written before or since.

I know readers really like the third offering, “The Body,” which inspired the beloved Rob Reiner movie Stand By Me. I liked it too – but I didn’t love it. King sure enjoys writing about underdogs, and the four young boys who trek through Maine to find a dead body so they can report it are a real motley crew, battered and bruised and captured with sympathy and affection. King's descriptions of their coming-of-age journey are evocative and touching. A suspenseful train scene, the big climax – played out in a thunderstorm – and the bittersweet denouement are all expertly done.

But King also interweaves some self-indulgent examples of the narrator’s “published fiction,” and these long-winded sections slow down the story. Still, “The Body” has lots of heart. Plus it’s got this great bit of post-modern writing:


I’m a writer now, like I said. A lot of critics think what I write is shit. A lot of the time I think they are right… but it still freaks me out to put those words, “Freelance Writer,” down in the Occupation blank of the forms you have to fill out at credit desks and in doctors’ offices. My story sounds so much like a fairytale that it’s fucking absurd.

I sold the book and it was made into a movie and the movie got good reviews and it was a smash hit besides. This all had happened by the time I was twenty-six. The second book was made into a movie as well, as was the third. I told you – it’s fucking absurd. Meantime, my wife doesn’t seem to mind having me around the house and we have three kids now. They all seem perfect to me, and most of the time I’m happy.

What’s not “fucking absurd” is his talent.

The final story, “The Breathing Method,” could have been published in King’s earlier Night Shift collection of stories. It’s an intriguing, atmospheric tale about a doctor whose patient is having a baby out of wedlock back when that was taboo. It takes a long time to get to the central story, and I’m not sure the framing device – set in a mysterious, exclusive Manhattan men’s club – was really necessary.

But there's a chill to the story that's appropriate for this winter's tale. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that each novella is associated with a season. Annoying marketing gimmick or cool structural device? You decide.)

Here and elsewhere in the book King proves he can write in a variety of styles and assume a wide range of voices. Different Seasons is essential reading for anyone interested in his evolution as a writer.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews852 followers
August 11, 2014
Best book by Stephen King? That's a question I might answer differently from month to month, but for today, I've got Different Seasons. Published in 1982, the book consists of four novellas (each in the 25,000-35,000 word range), any of which might be considered one of King's better novels if expanded and published separately. You might have heard of a couple of these:

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (Hope Springs Eternal) chronicles the internment of Andy Dufrense, a banker sentenced to life in 1948 for the double murder of his wife and her lover, coldly maintaining his innocence to the end. Andy befriends one of the hoosegow's best smugglers -- an Irishman named Red -- who narrates Andy's beguiling rise from cold fish to resident financial wizard, ultimately laundering ill gotten gains by the prison's Bible thumping warden, Samuel Norton. Andy uses his status to build the best prison library in Maine, but when he uncovers evidence that could prove his innocence, the warden responds with an iron fist. In 1975, Andy escapes into thin air.

Apt Pupil (Summer of Corruption) takes place in the community of Santa Donato, CA. A thirteen-year-old student athlete named Todd Bowden confronts his elderly neighbor Arthur Denker, accusing the reclusive German immigrant of being Kurt Dussander, a Nazi fugitive known as The Blood-Fiend of Patin. Todd made the connection due a newly discovered (and deeply disturbing) obsession with World War II atrocities. He blackmails Dussander into telling him every detail about the concentration camps. As Todd's All-American life is plagued by nightmares and plunging grades, he becomes dependent on Dussander to help him out of his academic misdeeds, culminating in a battle of wills between master and pupil.

The Body (Fall From Innocence) unfolds in Castle Rock, Maine in 1960, a week before the commencement of a new school term. Twelve-year-old budding writer Gordie Lachance and his friends -- whip smart thug Chris Chambers, foolhardy Teddy Duchamp and dim-witted Vern Tessio -- light out into the woods of Harlow, where Vern has learned a missing boy named Ray Bower, struck dead on the railroad tracks while picking berries, rests. In their quest to see a dead body and perhaps grow into men by solving Bower's disappearance, the boys contend with a fabled dog who guards Castle Rock Dump, a dangerous train trestle spanning the Castle River, a pool teeming with leeches and Ace Merrill and his gang, who claim "dibs" over Bower when they reach him at the same time the younger boys do.

The Breathing Method (A Winter's Tale) is narrated by a middle-aged lawyer named David, who on a blustery night on Christmas Eve's eve in New York City in the 1970s, arrives at the brownstone which hosts an unnamed club of which David is a member. "The club" consists of little more than polite, gray haired old gentlemen, scotch, an extensive (and mysterious) reading library and most of all, storytelling. On this night, David recounts a tale spun by Dr. Emlyn McCarron involving a stoic unwed mother whose baby came due Christmas 1935, the radical Lamaze-style "breathing method" the young physician advised she employ during her delivery and the uncanny preservation of the human body and spirit in the most dire of circumstances.

If you've ever subscribed to cable TV, or been to someone's house who has a TV on, you probably know that the spring, summer and fall novellas have been adapted into one classic movie (released as The Shawshank Redemption in 1994), one intriguing if flawed movie (Apt Pupil, released in 1998) and another classic movie (released as Stand By Me in 1986). Screen rights to The Breathing Method were picked up in 2012, no doubt due to the marketing potential the other three tales offer.

While a movie version of a Stephen King story isn't news (thirty-five have been done for film or TV so far, with varying success) what makes Different Seasons my favorite King book is the transportive ability of the storytelling. Each story, each chapter, each page fired a piston in my imagination and had my eyes racing down the page. A prison escape, a battle between master and pupil, a boyhood adventure into the woods and the power of the expectant mother are four types of stories I can't resist (pregnant characters may not have inspired any sub-genre of fiction that I know of, but I find these characters radiant nonetheless).

King isn't a Great Writer, at least not at this stage of his career. You get plain language, you get repetition, you get hurried editing and you get narrative elements that filmmakers have been able to improve upon dramatically. The money laundering and the prison break are much better designed by Frank Darabont in The Shawshank Redemption, while the climax of Stand By Me more poignant in Raynold Gideon & Bruce A. Evans' adaptation for director Rob Reiner. The Breathing Method, the shortest novella, exhibits the best quality control in terms of the writing. You can almost see the coffee stains and cigarette ash on the other three.

King isn't a Great Writer here but he could always write Great Books, of which this is one. His gift is his ability to craft three dimensional characters -- nice, humble guys with families and decent aspirations -- who we can identify with or aspire to be like. These guys encounter the extraordinary and we're invested in what happens from there on out. Authors like Dean Koontz, for me, aren't bothered with the "three dimensional character" aspect and jump right to the extraordinary encounter part, producing one disposable book after another. Not so with King. The climaxes of each of these novellas in particular will stay with me for awhile.

Had these novellas been expanded and published individually, they'd all land on a short list of King's best. Rather than bogarting a few half baked stories out of the trunk and hoisting them on readers for $29.99, Different Seasons is a literary bargain, a 4-fer-1.
January 23, 2023
Different Seasons was like my new year pick-me-up. I had heard fairly positive feedback about it, so I wanted to see for myself. I had initially purchased it solely to read 'The Body' as the film adaptation 'Stand by Me' is one of my all-time favourites. This collection contains four novellas, three of which were made into successful film adaptations, and I'll admit now, that I've only watched one of those.


Over the years I have delved into some really amazing King books, such as Pet Sematary, The Green Mile and The Shining, and although I didn't rate all the novella's in here as highly as those particular three, I could tell that I was reading King in his top form. It must be said that king's more recent releases such as The Institute have been a disappointment to me, and really didn't feel like him at all, so Different Seasons was a divine pleasure to devour.

Rita Hayworth and Shankshaw Redemption:

Now, I can't give a valid reason as to why, except that maybe I've been hiding under a rock all these years, but I never knew what this novella was about, nor had I ever watched the film adaptation (And I still haven't). I'm not going to go into too much detail here about what this story was about, but loosely, this was about the imprisonment of an innocent man falsely accused of murdering his wife and lover, and the story covers his time in prison, and his coping strategies. I must say King does a wonderful job of character building here. It was a worthwhile read for me, and I may possibly get around to watching the adaptation someday.

Apt Pupil:

This was by far my favourite. This was a dark, well constructed, slow-burning, psychologically disturbing thriller and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Apt Pupil is essentially a study of human behaviour, where the kind gentleman across the street is in fact a monster. Todd is a seemingly normal, rather clever 13 year old, and on his paper route one day, he discovers that a former Nazi general is living not so far away from him, and it's forms into a story of who of those two is the very worst. The story was full of little twists that I wasn't expecting, some of which made my stomach contents waltz with disbelief. I just read up on the film adaptation a few moments ago, and I saw that the Nazi general is portrayed by none other than Sir Ian McKellen. I mean, I seriously cannot imagine him being such a vile, messed up character. Either way though, this was some amazing reading, and it disturbed the hell out of me.

The Body:

Oh, what it was like to finally read this, after all these years of watching the film to death! This was a real treat, and with every page, I was imagining the screenplay characters doing their thing. What an experience. Four boys meet regularly in a treehouse in Castle Rock to talk the days away, smoke and play cards. All of these boys are from dysfunctional families, so each of them have grown older before their time, so to speak. Vern hears about a missing body that is being searched for, so him and the boys go walking for a two day trip in order to find this body, and possibly receive a rewards for doing so. Gordie Lachance was an excellent narrator for this wonderful story, and I loved the meanings behind his words.

"The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them. It’s hard to make strangers care about the good things in your life."

Breathing Method:

Honestly, this was my least favourite of the four. I understood what he was aiming for here, but for me, it was largely a disappointment. Within this novella there are two stories, one is about a gentleman that gets an invite to a private club, and the other is the supernatural kind. While I enjoyed the concept of people meeting at a club telling one another stories, it was just wasn't enough to carry me through, or give me any goosebumps. It fell flat.

In conclusion, this was a notable collection of stories which were written when I believe King was at his absolute peak. The imagination that went into the creation of these stories is heart-stopping, especially 'Apt Pupil' which I doubt I'll ever forget in a hurry. This collection definitely deserves it's place on my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,473 followers
July 10, 2020
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

This is a collection of four novellas, centring around disparate topics but all interlinked by the slow, creeping dread that emanated from each. None were wet-your-pants type horrifying, but focused instead on the everyday emotions of living.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption - 4.5/5 stars
King's ability to create character is just astounding, as proven in this short piece of perfection. I was immediately transported to the characters' location, incarcerated in Shawshank prison alongside them. Yet, despite this setting, it wasn't a dark or intense prison tale but a far quieter one than I anticipated, helped largely with the conversational narrative style. This is about hope and despair, and the importance of human connection, with a clever concluding twist.

Apt Pupil - 5/5 stars
This story was just the epitome of everything I relate with King! The juxtaposition created between the blonde-haired, blue-eyed-, school-star child and the evil that lurked inside him made for such an interesting story. This begun in a dark fashion and only got more so as it continued. I was dually disgusted and absorbed by everything that occurred.

The Body - 4.5/5 stars
I just love King's stories that feature young protagonists. They always seem the most dark and thrilling. The early introduction of a deceased boy's found body promised exactly that. The story was also enhanced by the protagonist's adult perspective looking back and narrating the tale. This also provided a lot of information about the poor or working class homes these children came from and the abuse or neglect they suffered there making it first a harrowing tale, and then a horrifying one...

The Breathing Method - 4.5/5 stars
The introduction of an exclusive, invite-only gentleman's club provided the setting and early intrigue for this story, until the dark recesses of King's imagination were brought to the fore.
Profile Image for Books with Brittany.
645 reviews3,269 followers
October 10, 2021
Wow the breathing method was just really not my jam :/
Maybe 3.75-4⭐️ overall. Really enjoyed the first three stories
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,527 reviews979 followers
July 25, 2014

I’m not exactly a fan of Stephen King. I could say he is a victim of his own popularity: I’ve seen so many of the movie adaptations from his novels, I don’t feel the need to check out the book versions. And the first book of his that I’ve read almost 30 years ago is The Stand , which started with great storytelling and compelling characters and devolved later into self-indulgent filler and confusion. So, it’s been too long since I put him on the backburner, mislabelling him as a commercial hack who found a successful niche in the horror genre.

I’m about to write now a full retraction from my biased and hasty judgement, based almost entirely on two of the four novellas included in the present collection. The man can write! Gripping, deeply felt human interest stories with little too none supernatural props and strong, direct prose, convincing dialogue and incredible emotional intensity.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is the source material of the top movie on the imdb all time best 250 list. The reason for this can be sumed in one little quote:

It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living or get busy dying.

The story of Andrew Dufresne struggle to keep his sanity and his dreams alive inside the Shawshank prison becomes the story of each and every one of us and should be an inspiration to never give up, just like it was for Red, the lifer who managed to adapt and use the system for his own survival and comfort. What does it matter if the author ‘borrowed’ the storyline from Leo Tolstoy, or if some parallels could be drawn to Papillon by Henry Carriere? King made the best use of the material with uncharacteristic restraint in terms of page length and, I again feel the need to stress, great dialogue and straightforward prose.

We get to know Andy Dufresne indirectly, through the eyes of Red, the hardened con who can get you anything you need for a price:
He was a short, neat little man with sandy hair and small, clever hands. He wore gold-rimmed spectacles. His fingernails were always clipped, and they were always clean. That’s a funny thing to remember about a man, I suppose, but it seems to sum Andy up for me. He always looked as if he should have been wearing a tie.

The initial portrait serves to underline how much Andy is not like the rest of murderers and criminals sent behind bars for life in one of the most notorious prisons in the country. Sure, like everybody else except Red, he claims he is innocent and that he didn’t kill his wife and her secret lover in cold blood, but he is inside now, and he must learn to survive by the brutal rules that govern this alternate and rigidly governed world. The first thing he asks of Red is to provide him with a pin-up poster of Rita Hayworth, to be followed in the long years of his imprisonment by further images of beauty queens to hang on the walls of his cell:

They mean the same thing to me as they do to most cons, I guess. Freedom. You look at those pretty women and you feel like you could almost ... not quite but almost ... step right through and be beside them. Be free.

Most of the story is taken up by the refusal of Andy to accept his fate and to succumb to mistreatment at the hands of older cons or corrupt wardens. His accounting talents, his fighting spirit and his honorable behaviour will slowly earn him a friendship with Red and a reputation among the other cons. Andy rarely explains himself, leaving Red to decode his character through his actions and through later revelations that I would leave out in order not to spoil the outcome, but here’s my favorite speech from Andy:

Guys like us Red, we know there’s a third choice. An alternative to staying simon-pure or bathing in the filth and the slime. It’s the alternative that grown-ups all over the world pick. You balance off your walk through the hog-wallow against what it gains you. You choose the lesser of two evils and try to keep your good intentions in front of you. And I guess you judge how well you’re doing by how well you sleep at night ... and what your dreams are like.

Stephen King has a reputation for inserting autobiographical notes in his novels. I don’t believe we can assume he has direct knowledge of the prison system, but Red, his narrative voice here, makes some remarks about writing down his experiences and about his general outlook on life that could be extended to apply to the art of writing in general (“Writing about yourself seems to be a lot like sticking a branch into clear river-water and roiling up the muddy bottom.”) Red, like many of us approaching or passing middle age, has taught himself over decades of imprisonment to give up all dreams and to live in a painfully real and cynical world. Would Andy’s dreams have the power to inspire and awaken the spark of hope in his weary soul? Read to the end to find out ...

Apt Pupil is in the difficult position of following up after Shawshank, and suffers in comparison, perhaps unjustly. I understand there’s a movie version for this too, but I haven’t seen it yet. Best way I can describe it is as a horror story where the monsters are the ordinary people living on the street next to your own door. A quiet pensioner and a bright young kid meet in what an outsider would later call “black serendipity”, brought together by a morbid interest in the atrocities that took place in the deathcamps of the Third Reich.

Todd Bowden, the total all-American kid: thirteen years old, five-foot eight and a healthy one hundred and forty pounds, hair the color of ripe corn, blue eyes, white even teeth, lightly tanned skin marred by not even the first shadow of adolescent acne. is blackmailing his elderly neighbour Dussander into conversations about his time as the commander of one of the extermination camps in Poland. Todd’s curiosity was awakened on Career Day at his school, when he got to write an article about war crimes:

It’s like a key turning into a lock or falling in love for the first time. I’ve found my GREAT INTEREST!

But is he in control of the situation, or is he falling under the spell of the old devil? His mind is slowly poisoned by the stories he hears, and he doesn’t have the strength and the wisdom to keep his ‘great interest’ from infecting his everyday life. The stakes are raised higher and higher as the young and the old battle for control of the situation, with actual victims soon to fall prey to their criminal mind games. To me, the whole set-up felt contrived and the character of Todd a little too gullible and too mentally unbalanced given the opening portrait of a bright kid, but King managed to keep me interested in the story despite these reservations. Again, I will stop before going into spoilers, and recommend the novella as a good example of his talent for building characters and suspense. Final quote:

Maybe we know that under the right set of circumstances the things that live in the catacombs would be glad to crawl out.

The Body is my personal favorite in the collection, even as I admit that Shawshank is probably better written and with the deeper message. It helps probably that “Stand By Me” as the movie version is titled is also one of my all time personal favorites, and that includes the fantastic soundtrack whose songs are actually mentioned in the novella. The secret ingredients that worked their magic on me are probably the persistent nostalgia about the summer adventures of my teenage years, those enduring friendships and an early awareness of death:

I was twelve going on thirteen when I first saw a dead human being. It happened in 1960, a long time ago ... although sometimes it doesn’t seem that long to me.

Gordie Lachance, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, Vern Tessio meet in a treehouse in Castle Rock, Maine, where they smoke illicit cigarettes and discuss the world away in idle summer heat. All of them come from disfunctional families and are largely self reliant, free range kids that when they hear of a dead body lost in a nearby forest, set out on a two day trip to check it out before the authorities or the older kids take it away.

There were games and endless bolted meals, lawns to mow, places to run to, walls to pitch pennies against, people to clap you on the back. And now I sit here trying to look through an IBM keyboard and see that time, trying to recall the best and the the worst of that green and brown summer, and I can almost feel the skinny, scabbed boy still buried in this advancing body and hear those sounds.

The technique of using an older narrator reminiscing about his younger days is one I’ve encountered countless times, but in Gordie Lachance I have met a kindred soul, one I like to think reflects the author’s own experiences in what is for me his most honest and vulnerable guise. Gordie is a natural storyteller and throughout the adventure he treats his friends to improvised sessions where he tests and develops his skills orally before putting them on paper. Some of his stories are a bit awkward and unpolished, as they should, given his inexperience and teenage taste for gross out humour (That tale about the eating contest being a perfect example of knowing his audience’s preferences and playing up to them). The strongest passages in the book though are the ones that are happening inside the mind of Gordie, the ones that are the most difficult to put into words and to explain to strangers: a deer silently coming out of the mist to cross the rail tracks before sunrise,while everybody else is sleeping; the shock of empathy for the kid killed by the train, the pain of growing old and missing your childhood friends.

My wife, my kids, my friends – they all think that having an imagination like mine must be quite nice; aside from making all this dough, I can have a little mind-movie whenever things get dull. Mostly they’re right. But every now and then it turns around and bites the s—t out of you with these long teeth, teeth that have been filed to points like the teeth of a cannibal. You see things you’s just as soon not see, things that keep you awake until first light.

Through Gordie, Stephen Kings talks not only about his adolescence, but also about writing (“When you don’t know what happens next, that’s the end.”), dreams, family, growing old. Final quote:

The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them. It’s hard to make strangers care about the good things in your life.

Breathing Method is the last novella included here, and again suffers by being placed after a masterpiece. There’s little to complain about here, it’s a craftly spun yarn about the power of stories to entertain and to disturb us out of complacency, to feed our imagination and relieve the boredom of routine.

Actually there are two nested tales in here, one about an elderly gentleman in New York who gets invited to an exclusive private club, and one about a possibly supernatural occurence that reminded me of the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Many tales have been spun out in the main room, Mr. Adley, tales of every sort, from the comic to the tragic to the ironic, to the sentimental. But on the Thursday before Christmas, it’s always a tale of the uncanny. It’s always been that way, at least as far back as I can remember.

The final novella serves as a good example of why Stephen King is famous for his dark and creepy subjects. For me the main atraction was the club itself, a haven for impossible books like the ones in the Library of Dreams from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” universe or Carlos Luis Zafon’s “Library of Forgotten Books” in Barcelona – a place where dreamers and storytellers gather to pass the time in their favorite environment.

In conclusion, “Different Seasons” may have been born as an afterthought of the editor, gathering King’s lesser works between his big commercial projects, but it turned out to be for me his most honest and accomplished offering, good enough to convince me I should read more books by him. I will close my review with what is actually King’s opening gambit, a phrase he borrowed from Flaubert to maybe explain why he wrote these stories, lest he forgets what life is all about:

Tout s’en va, tout passe, l’eau coule, et le coeur oublie.
Profile Image for Julie G.
896 reviews2,925 followers
February 28, 2018
I have an omnivore's appetite when it comes to books. I'll consume any genre, as long as the writing knocks me out. But, if you ask me what I avoid, I will tell you: horror.

I'm a Jane Austen devotee, not a lover of Carrie, Cujo or Christine. I find the gray hair creeping into my bangs horrific enough; I never want to be more scared.

So, now you know you can trust me when I tell you how fabulous and fantastic this book is.

First off, if you're not familiar with this work, it is a collection of four novellas, each one set to a different season of the year. The first novella, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" went on to become the famous "Shawhank Redemption" movie with that tall, cool drink of water, Tim Robbins. But, despite how amazing Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins were in the film, it did not influence my experience in reading it. Turns out that "Red" is actually a white man with red hair and that "Andy" is a small white man, not a hunky giant with a mischievous grin. I didn't picture either actor while reading the story, and it worked for me immediately.

So, how good is this 100 page novella? Well, to me it's as good as anything that has ever been written. It could be taught in Creative Writing classes the whole world over as one of the most perfect short works of fiction ever written. I just don't know how else to say it. It is ridiculously, stunningly, break-your-heart good.

The second novella, "Apt Pupil," is the longest in the collection, and, while it is also brilliantly written, I must warn you here. This incredibly disturbing story offers you. . . Holocaust torture flashbacks, violent rape fantasies, explicit murder scenes and animal cruelty and murder. I had to put it down multiple times and stop reading it, and the only way I ultimately resumed it was to read it as a writer. Meaning, I had to take a cold approach and study his technique and skim over every torture and dark fantasy theme. Having said that, I was glad I finished it. It was a fascinating pyschological exploration of some of our most deviant members of society, and the way Mr. King juxtaposes his characters in this story is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

The third novella, "The Body," is the one that went on to become the famous "Stand By Me" movie. I found this one to be the most autobiographical (having read King's memoir), and I have a suspicion that Mr. King loved writing every page of it. Of all of the stories, I liked the characters best here. The flawed and abused boys: Gordie, Chris, Vern and Teddy. They are full-bodied and three-dimensional; you don't doubt their existence for a moment. I loved them all, and it's a story that enters your psyche as "real." I doubt I'll let go of the feel of this one for years.

The last novella, "The Breathing Method" is the book's "Winter's Tale," and it is the shortest at 60 pages. When I read in the Afterword that Mr. King declared, "elements of horror can be found in all of the tales, not just in The Breathing Method," I decided it was time for me to be done. I couldn't imagine reading anything more horrific than "Apt Pupil," so if "The Breathing Method" is the truly horrific story of the four, then. . . I'm done. I figured I could skip the last 60 pages and spare myself a few nightmares.

I love this book, and I dog-eared several different passages, but I wanted to share this one here from "The Body:"

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them--words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,410 followers
December 2, 2010
This collection is one of King's finest efforts. While the author has his ups and downs, and the reception of his novels and short stories varies, the readers have suprisingly little criticism for his collection of novellas. It seems to be the field where he is at his best; it's the cozy inbetween the novel and the short story, a place where a tale can be developed without faltering into overbloated, verbose work, maintain a mood and keep the theme that would be otherwise impossible in short fiction.

Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption is a classic, a piece equal to such tales as "Bartleby the Scrivener". Indeed, the comparison with Bartleby is more than apt; both tales deal with imprisonment, though the first much more literally. Both affect the reader in a completely different way, but touch the same thing: the strenght of the human spirit. While "Bartleby" is pessimistic and depressing, "Rita Hayworth..." is its complete opposite. Indeed, I think I'm not that far off when I say that it's one of the best and most beautiful testaments to the strenght of human will and devotion in seeking and reaching the goal. With the seasons theme King set for the book, it captures the motto perfectly: "Hope Springs Eternal".

Apt Pupil, which illustrates "The Summer of Corruption", is arguably the most disturbing novella in the volume and one of the most disturbing pieces from all of King's ouevre. A 13 year old boy discovers that an ex-nazi lives in his neighborhood, hiding under an assumed name; He confronts the old man, who at first denies the allegiations, but eventually acknowledges his previous identity. In fear of being turned to authorities by the boy, he agrees to satisfy his demand: he starts telling him tales about his previous life and service in concentration camp. But the boy is not interested in turning him to the authorities and demands more and more detailed stories; soon the old man finds himself willing to tell them. Needing to indulge in the telling.
The story brings to mind the Nietzschean theme of the Abyss; The famous quote is well known: "If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you". But what if the there were two abysses opposite to each other? What would they see in each other, and what monsters would come out of them? "Apt Pupil" is a story tackling such a theme. Two abyssess stare at each other; two leeches suck at one another. Whereas the previous novella was about hope and the strenght of human spirit, this one is about the decay of it.

The Body is the tale for th Fall, not hard to guess that it'll be "The Fall from Innocence". From all novellas collected in this volume, this one is propably the most endearing. It's not hard to imagine an older man, sitting on the porch of his house in the golden sunshine of an afternoon, rocking in his favorite chair and recalling the memory of the summer he and his three friends went to see a dead body in the woods. Not too far from works by Ray Bradbury and Robert McCammon, "The Body" manages to capture both the period and the adolescence surprisingly well on a small number of pages. King is excellent at writing from an adolescent point of view; I believe that a good deal of a 12 year old boy still remains in him (even if his heart is in a jar on his desk). But he is a grownup too; reflecting on his childhood, and how the trip has changed the boys, shaped their lives and impacted their future. "The Body" feels autobiographical, and it truly does recapture the essence of childhood and the maturing process into adulthood. I'd like to think of this novella as a fantastic warm up to King's later novel "IT", which captures childhood almost perfectly.

The Breathing Method is aptly subtitled "A Winter's Tale". While the previous three tales have a "contemporary" feel, this one is reminiscient of other, much older authors. Indeed, it is not very far from what Dickens might have written when he was in the mood for ghostly little books; but the most close comparison that can be made is that of Henry James and his "The Turn of The Screw".
Much like "The Turn...", "The Breathing Method" is also a story within a story. Dedicated to King's fellow writer and friend Peter Straub and his wife Susan, it is the sole tale of the volume with a touch of the supernatural, and the sole tale that could be classified (albeit very broadly) as horror. I'd rather say that it's more Gothic than scary - what's more gothic than a group of old men gathering around the fire and telling tales of the uncanny?
In my opinion, this is one of King's most underrated stories and the sole overlooked gem in this collection. I was surprised to see how many readers considered it the weakest; while I can't really choose the strongest tale in this volume, because they are all strong in different ways, this is certainly not the worst of them and most certainly deserves the appraisal and recognition the preceeding ones received. It's wonderfully atmospheric and chilling, even though it is not scary - and maybe precisely because of it. "The Breathing Method" plays on the all-familiat string of disturbance - the gentlemen's club with the creaking chairs, the members telling tales that they would never tell anywhere else, the mysterious, ominous butler, who's both encouraging and threatening...the club library with most strange volumes...
There is genuinely nothing not to love about this piece, and if I had to state a complain I would have only one: I wish it was longer. I wish to read more about the history of the club, about the members, about the rooms upstairs...but alas, it's not going to happen, which is better in a way; the civilized human spirit cannot get rid of the feeling of the uncanny, and "The Breathing Method" provides plenty of such feelings and is a perfect closure for this volume.

To conclude: I'd thoroughly recommend this collection for any reader who enjoys good fiction. If you dislike King's work because you think it's too scary or the horror aspect doesn't appeal to you, this could be a great way to discover the other side of his work - the emotional, sensitive one. It would make you think and reminiscence about things you though were long forgotten. All stories are utterly original and independent; even if you are a long time King reader and have read most of his work, you'll discover this volume provides a fresh breath of imagination without author intrusion or any hint of staleness and boredom. This is a work of a master storyteller at his absolute peak, and when you'll reach the last page it will make you want to flip it over and start again. A truly fantastic collection, worth a place on every shelf.
Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
232 reviews488 followers
February 9, 2017
Who said Stephen King only wrote horror? "Different Seasons" is a mix of all the genres - Young Adult, Mystery, coming-of-age ... but no horror. If you want to read King at his finest, then read this.

"Different Seasons" is a collection of four novellas, each of which he has written after the conclusion of his four earliest novels. While initially not intending to publish any of them, King finally decided to release those novellas in an anthology, and many of his readers couldn't be more thankful for it. It is not without reason that this book has the second-highest rating average on Goodreads of all the sixty+ novels King has written so far.

1. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (5/5 stars)
Perhaps most famous for the movie adaption starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, this is a story about hope and devastation, about freedom and imprisonment, about humanity and friendship. I have written a more extensive review of the novel right here. Nearly everyone has watched the movie ('everyone' excludes me, as so often), but even without knowing about how good the movie really is, this novella can be recommended whole-heartedly.

2. Apt Pupil (4,5/5 stars)
What happens when you put two of the most unlikeable characters ever together and force them into interacting with each other? One of the most breathtaking stories ever. The subject is already interesting enough: A boy of the 1970's, Todd Bowden, gets into contact with Kurt Dussander, a wanted Nazi war criminal. Out of his interest in the Second World War, upon discovering a secret of Dussander's, Todd threatens Dussander and forces him to tell highly detailed stories about his crimes during the War. Time passes, and as Todd becomes older and turns into a teenager, the stories narrated by Dussander begin to cast long shadows on Todd's behaviour.
The only aspect to be critized of this novella might be the very rushed ending, but apart from that, King enthrallingly managed to make his reader sympathize with two vile characters with motifs and thoughts as dark as night. While sometimes a little bit slow in comparison to his other fast-moving novellas in this anthology, some breathtaking scenes have been included and certainly allow this to be one of the more moving and memorable stories.

3. The Body (6/5 stars)
My favorite story of the entire anthology, and perhaps one of my favorite stories of all time. After reading it during the course of two hours, I was left flabbergasted, enthusiastic and perturbed alike. King masterfully delved into the psyches of four young boys who are entering an adventure and have to overcome several obstacles. The movie adaption "Stand By Me" is critically acclaimed wherever you are looking, with all of the four child actors delivering amazing performances. (Yay, there's a movie I've actually seen!) The short story remains my favorite in comparison to the movie though, maybe because I've read it first and was so stunned by the characters. I can only recommend you not wasting your time with reading this review anymore and instead running to read this.

4. The Breathing Method: (3/5 stars)
Many claim this story to be their least favorite one out of the entire collection, and I can only agree with what they say. Sometimes 'great potential' does not equal 'great story', and although this story included a disturbing scene which might actually be classified as horror, on the whole it was too short and unexplored. It is a shame that Mr. King established such an interesting mystery here and did not bother to dissolve it in the ending. However, it was an interesting story about a middle-aged lawyer attending a mysterious club where people tell differing stories ... with one of them proving to be very different from the usual kind of stories. It feels like this was not meant to be included in this collection and should rather have been in one of his other anthologies. Maybe its length shortness was the reason for not being as profound as the other three novellas.

In conclusion, "Different Seasons" earns full five stars. Apart from some minor weaknesses, this collection was as enthralling as it was thought-provoking. The stories are not about horror. They (read: 'the first three stories') are about what could happen to people in real life. They are about fates. They are about humans. They are about growing-up. They are about life. Life in its darkest and least desirable shapes ... but they are about life.

And even thinking about the eventuality that those stories might have happened exactly the way they have been told by King makes me shiver more than any of his horror novels.
Profile Image for Matt.
114 reviews11 followers
April 16, 2019
By 1982, Stephen King had been established as a brand. He hadn't been "outed" as Richard Bachman yet, very few people had encountered Roland Deschain and his quest for the Dark Tower and nobody had any reason to think of him as anything but a talented writer of horror. The movies based on his books led credence to this assessment, and King himself never disputed the tag. Yet, anyone who had seriously read his novels and short story collection knew there was a lot more behind Stephen King than just a popular writer who was in the middle of a run of fame. Different Seasons gave some (actually, a lot) of ammunition to those who were steadfastly defending King as more than a hack killing a lot of trees and making a lot of money. While it would take another 20 years for the literary establishment to begrudgingly acknowledge him as a serious author and major contributor to western literature, Different Seasons was the first point that people could see what would be.

A remarkable collection, Different Seasons stands comfortably alongside such giants as Twain and Hemmingway, painting an honest, if somewhat disturbing, picture of American life and tragedy. Full of life, humour, darkness and hope, Different Seasons, with all four novellas, gets to the heart of the human condition, establishing truthful characters and allowing them to react honestly to the situations they find themselves in.

Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption;

A different kind of prison escape story. No guns, no spectacular chase, no masterplan. Shawshank is simply a story of friendship, hardship and life in prison. Andy, as the “hero”, is fairly far removed from what I would imagine most people’s reaction to prison life would be, making him slightly difficult to empathize with, even given the circumstances of his incarceration, yet Stephen King writes him with so much care that one can’t help cheer his every victory. Red is the everyman, helping Andy navigate life behind bars, narrating the story as a fascinated bystander, taking a tale with very little action and making it a page turner. Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption is masterfully told story, invoking the best of Steinbeck while King maintains his own voice.

Apt Pupil;

Not traditional horror story in any sense, Apt Pupil is nonetheless one of the most harrowing tales Stephen King has written. Close to Bachman in tone, the novella explores the depths human depravity can go, how normalcy on the outside can hide the monster within. Blackmail, fraud, murder, Apt Pupil is portal into how evil people can be given the right (wrong) circumstances. Then there’s the Nazi…

The Body;

While popularized by the movie, Stand By Me, The Body stands as a true giant in the Stephen King bibliography. With a very simple plot and not much action, King is able to fully explore the characters of Gordie, Chris, Vern and Teddy, harkening back to the readers pre-teen years with an honesty rarely exhibited in literature or film as most adults forget how it is to be a kid on summer vacation. The trials of the kids are handled with care and empathy, allowing the reader to shed a tear as their hardships are exposed to each other. Though given little page time, the toughs are a realistic and truly frightening bunch, invoking the worst nightmares of the biggest bullies we can remember. The death of a child is an exceptionally difficult subject to tackle, The Body handling it with dignity and just a the right amount of realistic horror. This is a remarkable piece of writing, and not surprisingly turned into a wonderful movie, the first to truly capture the “Stephen King voice” on film.

The Breathing Method;

Stephen King a la Edgar Alan Poe with a dash of Lovecraft, The Breathing Method is a slightly odd, though fun and gruesome, tale. A club that I would most definitely like to join, a vast library of out of this world books and the comfort of tales told by the fire with some brandy, a pipe or cigar and good company. While The Breathing Method is the name of the story, it’s actually the club that is the centrepiece, with the question remaining; where exactly are they meeting? The Territories, Mid-World, End-World, or somewhere a little less exotic but still a bit out of phase?

The afterword is among the best analysis of his work and process that King has written, the explanation of the novella being absolutely hilarious. In all, Different Seasons is a remarkable achievement, standing tall in the pantheon of the Stephen King bibliography, producing two of the very best King film adaptations (and a not so bad one as well). For readers who have yet to experience King, this may be the best way to start, as his voice draws you comfortably in, not exposing too many monsters, getting you ready for the true terror that is to come.
Profile Image for Sandeep.
88 reviews54 followers
October 12, 2020
Fantastic! What a great collection of short stories. King mentions in his afterwords that this was his attempt to show that he was much more than a horror writer and my god what a way to prove it.

This book is so real. The human emotions, temptation, coming-of-age etc. are such brilliantly portrayed along with an amazing showcase of storytelling. A treat for all King fans.

Here's my short reviews of all the stories in this collection :

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption - 5/5 stars.
I'm sure everyone and their mother have seen the movie and is familiar with the story. The source material is equally good if not better. Brilliant story of how hope keeps a man alive. This story had such a feel good ending too.

Apt Pupil - 5/5 stars
Shawshank and The Body are the selling point of this book but Apt Pupil for me is equally good. A very very disturbing, gruesome story about a sick child and a Nazi war criminal. This one felt to me like a proper King story out of all.

The Body - 5/5 stars
The best one in my opinion. This story feels so so so real, I can't stress it enough. The characters are unforgettable. The most authentic coming of age story I've read. I was balling my eyes out on the final few pages. Read this, you'll get lost.

The Breathing Method - 3/5 stars
Okay... Given the other three were bangers, this one wasn't that great. But it's still a good one. This is the only one, if I'm not mistaken, that has some surreal or supernatural element to it. It is not bad by any means but being the last story of the collection, it leaves you a little underwhelmed.

Overall, it was such an amazing read. One of my favorite King books so far. A must read for all King fans and a great place to start off too if you want to dive into his world.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,849 followers
January 14, 2023
That´s possibly Kings´ best short story collection

And that´s not just because all have been transformed into movies that were milestones of suspenseful storytelling too. It´s because freaking ingenious King is so incredible Chuck Norris that he

Doesn´t even need any fantasy or paranormal elements to make it so thrilling. He just takes

The inhumanity of the US prison system in Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
To describe the picture of a strong man in a just crazy system of eye for an eye stone age legislation. His will and perseverance are what lets him deal with levels of brutality many won´t survive because of the overkill of

Sociopaths like in Apt Pupil
One doesn´t see the plot coming and the slow escalation is so perfectly timed and created that it, not just literally, blows ones´ mind away. In contrast to these first 2 hardcore stories,

The Body is more about childhood and coming of age
And besides It maybe Kings´ best description of both the magic and terror of this time. Kings is fascinated by the creative power, vividity, and potential of kids' imagination and sheer unbeatable at breathing life into this mentality with characters especially struggling with parents, school, and the intolerance and conservatism of the society of these days. But

A new life isn´t always an antidote to death
Each womans´ nightmare comes true in the only story with a bit of fantasy manifested as mama bear magic. The stories are prime examples of the important fact that

Less is so much more
All these pearls show that quality is often better than quantity, something very ironic in the case of King, because he is good at producing both with extremely varying results from incredibly good to nearly facepalm. But the short format forces him to focus on the essential character, helps to avoid the drivel infodump overkill some find a bit exaggerated, and finally made this quartet his subjectively best short story collection. Well, that and a fact I´m more and more getting interested in and first mentioned, after an enlightening epiphany, in my review of 11 22 63 too. So here it is again

Impact of substances on creative output
During his high years when he created It, Misery, and some of his other, best works. Because I just had some more, of course just theoretical, enlightenment about boosting productive creative output with legal and illegal substances some totally sober thoughts:

It´s difficult to differentiate what fueled King when, because he used to smoke like a chimney, drink, and consume marihuana already before 1985 with cocaine and hard pills, and one of my biggest questions is how drunk and high he was before officially becoming an alcoholic, cocaine, and stimulant addict. How drunk and marihuana high was he when he wrote everything between his first works and the end of his junkie career? How would neuropsychiatry and pharmacology explain the origin of his creativity under the influence of at least 3 to 6 substances that all, already as single consumption, have massive impacts on thought quality and imagination? Because, yes, that´s one of the few positive aspects of drugs. Would King have been able to become such an incredible writer without substance abuse? However, back to the show

With some life prolonging ideas I´m currently testing
I´m kind of a health optimization freak and trying to reach new levels by experimenting with nootropics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nootropic, power napping, calorie restriction, no TV or videogames, much sport, and similar exhaustive activities, and especially learning old school and with much techy help on all devices and trying to pimp my style. It may be subjective but I´m pretty sure that one can reach high creative performance levels with discipline, perseverance, and a combination of hunger, no pain no gain, and everything boosting and improving the serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, endocannabinoid, and noradrenaline systems of the body. It´s freaking amazing what one can achieve by using organic, natural, and legal substances and excessive, obsessive training. I´m doing this for years now on and off to see what´s the best combination, and to develop no tolerance to the substances I include breaks of weeks and months, and

You will hate the worst realization I had. Calorie restriction
Seems to be the most essential brain, mind, and mood busting factor. I´m a vegetarian eater with an organic food fetish and a big breakfast, normal lunch, and very little or no dinner. As soon as I add more food to the mix, my cognitive abilities seem to be a bit reduced. But if I, from time to time for a week or 2, fast and just have a small breakfast and tiny lunch, the brain simply seems to have more of the power that´s usually used for digestion. Imagine what one could do when adding alcohol or THC to the mix and how great and hard it would hit already in small amounts on an empty stomach. That would save costs too and be in the creative spirit of The King.

And I absolutely have no idea how I got to the point to end a Stephen King review by driveling like a lifestyle guru. Maybe I should start an evil, eco social, post scarcity cult, that would be a true, kind of inherently impossible, challenge…

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
1,007 reviews74 followers
October 20, 2022
The year this came out (1982), I was a junior in high school contemplating my future. I was still going to the library every Wednesday with my two younger siblings. Even though I had a girlfriend I was crushing hard on Mrs. Paladino, our neighborhood librarian, who waved me over as soon as I got there. She told me that she had held back some new books that she thought might interest me (which is something she periodically did). Different Seasons was one of the books. She knew that I bent toward horror and King or Koontz in particular. When I grabbed the book for checkout, she showed me the inside of her bag where she had her own copy of Different Seasons. That's just one of the reasons I loved her. Even though King writes a disclaimer where he communicates that Different Seasons is meant to be a departure from his horror roots, in this book he really has not travelled very far. Every single one of these stories IMHO has horror elements. Some more pronounced than the others, but even so the stories are all very strong. "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" is a fantastic story of an attempted prison break. "Apt Pupil" is the story of a high school superstar finding an interest in the darkest aspects of World War 2. "The Body" is about four boys searching the woods for the body of a dead kid, and finding an end of their innocence instead. "The Breathing Method" is about an unmarried woman determined to give birth to her child with a measure of dignity. I found the book gripping back then and inhaled it in one week. I have read this book numerous times in my life and always think of Mrs. Paladino, and how we both loved this book. Clearly, that has not changed.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,341 reviews316 followers
July 8, 2023
Четири сезона, четири усещания - надежда, развала, растеж и прераждане! Вечен един кръговрат!

Това ни е дал Краля, в този първи свой сборник от четири новели, който и формат ще стане негова запазена марка през годините.

"Изкуплението Шоушенк" - почти всички знаят за какво иде реч, филмът по тази прекрасна новела е абсолютна класика. Анди Дюфрен си остава за мен много любим персонаж.

Едно горещо, безкрайно и скучно лято и прикрито нацистко чудовище за съсед - какво ли може да се обърка? Покварата дебне и никой не е застрахован от преминаване към тъмната страна...

Тялото е просто претескт за групата подрастващи хлапета, да се отърват от скучното и монотонно живуркане в заспал американски градец. Да опише техния свят, проблеми и надежди - това Кинг го умее както никой друг. Филмът по тази история е абсолютно задължително да се види!

Последната новела е коледно минорна и навява едни различни мисли и усещания, несъвместими с духа на празника...

Отлични 6* за Краля, трябва да се прочете!
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,016 reviews1,182 followers
December 3, 2020
Spooktober read #1!

It’s hard to have a little Spooktober marathon without including a Stephen King book in the pile, isn’t it? Though some might argue that “Different Seasons” is not really a collection of horror novellas, they still each capture something horrific in their own unique way. I personally prefer King’s writing when he’s not in balls-to-the-walls horror mode. I’m not really into vampires and homicidal clowns: the horrors hidden in the folds of human nature freak me out much more effectively…

I usually don’t break up collections into reviews about every story, but “Different Seasons” only has four, one for each season, so I will do so in this case.

“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”: I’ve seen the movie a million times, and I love it to bits, so I had a good idea of what I was getting into here. There are a few subtle differences between the novella and the movie, but the broad strokes of the story remain the same: Andy Dufresne is sent to Shawshank for killing his wife and her lover. He eventually befriends a fellow lifer nicknamed Red (who is an Irish ginger in the book, hence the nickname), gets caught up in the warden's money laundering scheme and finds his way to a form of redemption in a way no one saw coming.

I know this might make some people mad, but I got to the end of this novella and thought to myself: "Damn it, I still like the movie better". Maybe it's because Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are so damn awesome, and because Frank Darabont makes amazing movies. Maybe it's also because I found the focus of the film to be about the friendship between Andy and Red, and the supporting characters are better developed on screen, somehow - and I love every minute of watching them circle each other. In the book, the characters that I loved (and loved to hate, like Byron Hadley) are only glimpsed at, and barely get any page time. And while the conclusion of Andy's story is sill satisfying, I failed to be as moved as I am by the end of the movie (and I re-watched it to check, and I cried).


“Apt Pupil”: What. The. Ever. Living. F***. This right here is why I am infinitely more afraid of humans than of creepy-crawly things. Because humans do stuff like that to other humans.

In the 1970s in LA, a young All-American teenage boy named Todd Bowden recognizes an older man of his neighborhood as an SS officer he has seen pictures of while he was obsessively researching the atrocities committed by the Third Reich. He follows this man home, and confronts him on the matter of his identity. After reluctantly admitting to not being Arthur Denker, but Kurt Dussander, a Nazi fugitive, the old man finds himself in a strange and disturbing game of cat and mouse with Todd. The young man blackmails Dussander into telling him every detail he recalls from the concentration camps, to feed his morbid obsession – but he soon no longer needs to threaten the old man of exposing his identity… In fact, Dussander realizes he also has a certain power over Todd, and a perverse symbiosis begins…

This story reinforces my belief that there is no need to conjure monsters and supernatural nightmares to creep people out: some people carry inhuman darkness in them, and by the end of this story, it's hard to tell which is the most repugnant character: the SS living in hiding, or the teenage boy who craves the stories and violence the older man experienced. While it is inevitable that this story will end in blood, I was still surprised by the resolution.

I seem to be having a recent reading patterns: this is the third story I read in a relatively short time that revolves around a disturbed and violent young man who ultimately commits horrible acts when his sanity finally snaps. Though in this case, the idea of corruption is an important element, which was absent from “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” or “Crime and Punishment”. That being said, no one will ever make me believe Todd was an innocent boy that Dussander corrupted with his ideas and stories. If anything, he reminded me much more of Kevin, in the infamous “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... there was already something rotten in his core, and he was looking for a reason to cross the line.

I watched the movie, which was not amazing, but very unsettling. Ian McKellen is obviously brilliant at portraying an old man whose youth comes back to him like riding a bike when the carefully sealed trap door in his mind is opened again, but Brad Renfro is just as upsetting, with his porcelain baby face and the hard, dead eyes. The way the egg each other on and the way their actions mirror each other was a really great touch.


Some people might tell me I live under a rock, but I confess to never having watched the movie “Stand by Me”, which was based on “The Body”. I suppose I’ll have to now, as I have watched the movie adaptations of the first two stories in “Different Seasons” since I got started on this book. This one is a signature-King trip down memory lane/coming of age. I can’t say I remember much of my childhood, but I do remember how it felt, and this is something King is truly great at capturing on the page.

Four friends decide to head into the woods surrounding the town of Castle Rock, Maine, and follow the train track that runs through it to see the dead body of another kid who has apparently killed by a train as he was out berry picking. Those kids all come from complicated homes: violent parents, neglectful parents, parents with severe PTSD… I actually found the exploration of the effects of bad parenting on children very interesting, and heartbreaking, of course. This story is set in the late 50s, early 60s, so of course, those issues were not really understood or even talked about. But the damage was done and passed on nonetheless.

The passage when Chris talks about the feeling he has of living in a dead end, of being trapped by what people think of him and his family, and about how even your friends can be the weight that drags you down hit me pretty hard. Even today, even up in Canada, this isn’t far from reality. I am all too familiar with that feeling of being born caged, and with the horrible struggle and sacrifices that have to be made to extricate oneself from that: I never had such childhood misadventures, but this is the King story that I relate to the most out of everything I’ve ever read from him so far. That being said, I got very annoyed with the intersecting stories written by Gordon that broke the narrative of the boys on their adventure. I found them neither very well written (I know that was the point, but still…) not very interesting. If it hadn’t been for that, this novella might have been perfect.


The last story, "The Breathing Method", is a lovely homage to Lovecraft's brand of creepy: a framed narrative set in a club that might not be what it seems, that details the story of a young woman's illegitimate pregnancy and delivery. This one is the hardest to summarize, because it has a special convoluted nature, but it's an interesting and unsettling story about stories and about the judgement people cast on each other. Most reviewers seem to have found it a bit on the boring side, but I enjoyed it a lot - but then, I am a Lovecraft girl...

I have come to think that King writes great stories, but that his actual writing is missing the “je ne sais quoi” that would turn the great story into a great book. The nuance is subtle, admittedly, but when I think of King, I always remember the stories and the characters he created, and never the words he put on the page. That doesn’t make him any less entertaining to read, and sometimes even enthralling. But if I compare the prose to the hypnotic writing of Laird Barron and John Langan, even the best stories pale a little.

So 3 and a half stars, rounded to 4, for a collection of great stories that I wish had been written just a bit better.
Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
February 1, 2021
A brilliant collection of novellas that shows that King is so much more than just a writer of horror.

Let’s get right to the individual stories.

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
(Crime fiction / drama - written after having finished 1979’s The Dead Zone - 96 pages)

Wonderful story of the growing friendship between two prisoners (one of them being wrongfully convicted). A story about the hardships of a life in prison and the fear of a possible future outside that small, quiet and regulated world. It's about equanimity and perseverance in the face of adversity. With the great and memorable characters giving each other hope.

The movie adaptation ranks among the best of Stephen King screen adaptations. It was a box-office failure but not only got nominated for 7 Oscars, as I’m typing this it is also the highest rated film on IMDB. Hard to tell which one I like better, the novella or the film. They are both great.

4.5 – 5 stars

Apt Pupil
(Crime fiction / psychological thriller – written in a two-week period following the completion of 1977’s The Shining – 180 pages)

Wow, I hated reading this and loved it all the same. It’s about a teenager that is obsessed with the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and blackmails a German immigrant and wanted Nazi war criminal into telling him about the camps and the things he’s done there. The two main characters are monstrous people, that find themselves locked in a mutually parasitic relationship. To follow their downward spiral into madness was fascinating, often disturbing, sometimes nauseating. The story takes some interesting turns towards the end. I was never quite sure where it was headed but was satisfied with every turn it took. The buildup initially seemed a bit long to me, but I think ultimately it was necessary for the exceptional character development. The pay-off is immense. The last part of the story was full of tension and suspense. The ending was brilliant.

There are no monsters under the bed or in the wardrobe here, but it’s one of the most horrific and unsettling stories I’ve ever read. I don’t think that I will ever read it again.

I hear the film adaptation is pretty good too. But I have not seen it yet.

4.5 - 5 stars

The Body
(Coming-of-age / adventure – written directly after 1975’s Salem’s Lot – 147 pages)

The crown jewel of this brilliant collection.

A story of four 1960’s boys that hear about a boy their age gone missing and presumably being killed somewhere along the railway track from Castle Rock to Harrow. They go on a 2-day hike trying to find the dead body of Ray Brower. What they are truly going to find however is themselves.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a better story about growing up and leaving the innocence and security of childhood behind. It’s one of two stories that made me fall in love with King’s writing in the first place. And it was even better on this re-read.

You can read my full review for this exceptional tale of friendship and loss and the big adventures of one’s childhood here, if you want.

The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them.

This one was adapted into another brilliant movie going by the title Stand by Me. It’s amazing to think that arguably the two best King screen adaptations came out of the same collection.

5 stars

The Breathing Method
(horror / drama – written immediately following 1980’s Firestarter - 62 pages)

The weakest novella in an overall excellent collection. Still, not bad at all.

It’s a story within a story. A Manhattan lawyer gets invited to a club by one of the senior partners. There’s an air of mystery surrounding the club and it’s hard for the main character to get answers, or even ask the questions he wants to ask. One year, shortly before Christmas, one of the members tells a story of his time as a doctor and his acquaintance with an unmarried and pregnant young woman in the year of 1935. And that’s what I perceived as the actual main story here. However, opinions in my reading group were divided on this. Anyways, it is an almost tender tale that looks at how women in the 30’s (and other times as well) got disregarded by society if they didn’t have a husband and still had the nerve to get pregnant. It also shows a very special doctor / patient relationship. At times this feels almost like a budding romance but it turns into something different and is the only story in this collection that is regarded as horror, which however might have more to do with the framing tale of the club. For me personally it was hard to decide which genre to put it in. And maybe I don’t have to anyway.

Atmospheric, slightly eerie, surrounded by an air of mystery, I enjoyed this. But it feels like the beginning of something bigger, rather than a self-contained novella.

3.5 stars – 4 stars

Overall, I’m giving this collection 5 stars. Three outstanding stories out of four, and no duds. That’s quite impressive. Stephen King can indeed write so much more than just horror.

This has been a buddy read with The Stephen King Readers in SpecFic Buddy Reads. Thanks, guys. It’s been fun.
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