By Stephen King
Blockade Billy by Stephen King (pp. 144)
In 1958, a rookie nobody named Billy Blakely joined the New Jersey Titans. Not expected to be much more than filler, he becomes an overnight fan favourite. Hitting almost .500 and becoming a human barrier to home plate as the Titan’s catcher, he’s a force to be reckoned with and yet really doesn’t grasp the gravity of his skill and contribution. An odd bird to be sure.
Blockade Billy’s story is presented by the aging voice of George Grantham, the Titans third base coach as its being told to King him. The baseball jargon is fantastic. It’s true to the period and rich in texture. Some takes a bit to decipher, but that adds to the joy of the story. Hearing portions of baseball season recounted by a coach could be like listening to box scores read mechanically from the newspaper, but King does what King does so well. With an economy of words, but not missing a beat, he presents a solid tale worthy of any storyteller.
It’s not a long book, but reads so well, you’ll be surprised that you’re already done and wish there was more story to tell
The great thing about being Stephen King is, the rules don’t apply. I mean, who else can write a short story and have it published as a standalone book. It would be great if stories by other authors were published as novelettes like this one.
At a mere 130 pages, including two short stories or novelettes called Blockade Billy and Morality. Neither of the two stories is what you'd consider a Stephen King story, in the sense that neither one relies on some kind of paranormal twist or monster. The monsters here are all human in nature, so the two stories are more along the lines of his famous The Body short. I think that Blockade Billy is only a good read if you are either a diehard Stephen King or Baseball fan. As an Aussie, I couldn’t get into the first story in this book, but then again, I’m not a sports fan either so that’s not surprising.
The second story Morality has nothing to do with baseball nor does it have any connection to Blockade Billy in any tangible way. Basically, a married couple with a little financial trouble is offered some money if they'll do something . . . not quite moral. It isn't something huge, but it changes them. What's interesting about this story is how something so minor can have such a huge impact on people's lives, even if they don't get caught. I read this story when it was first published in Esquire and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was glad to see it package with Blockade Billy. For me, Morality was the better read of the two stories.
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