Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blockade Billy

Last week, I told you that I ordered my first edition copy of Blockade Billy.  The book arrived on Thursday, April 22, two days after it was officially published.  I had some time before the wife and kids got home, so I started reading.  It is a novella, only 122 pages, so I hoped to speed through it.  I got pretty far before I had to put it down and start on dinner.  I read a few pages on Friday, but didn’t get a chance to read anymore of it that weekend.

On Monday morning, as we were getting ready for the day, I noticed it sticking out of the top of my wife’s bag destined for her work.  I mentioned this to my wife and briefly discussed the value and proper care for a first edition book with her.  Some might refer to this as a lecture and judging from my wife’s expression and subsequent response, she was one of those people.  She explained to me where I could shove put the book to prevent anyone from touching it.  I murmured a goodbye to the book and counted the days until I could resume reading it.

Earlier today, my wife instant messaged me to tell me she was done reading it.  She also told me that she lent it to a friend.  Based on the way my week has been going (I think I hit over 20 hours of production support calls already this week, I stopped keeping track), I didn’t see it as a funny joke.  As soon as I had a free moment to myself tonight, I snatched the book up and finished the 20 pages I had left.

Blockade Billy is the story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely, a minor league catcher called up to the majors at the beginning of the season, and as you can expect with any Stephen King story, something is not right.  The story is written as a narrative told to “Mr. King” by an eye witness to the events that spring.  The novella was certainly not King’s best work, but it was good.  I think I enjoyed the way he told the story over the actual plot.

You could call me a big Stephen King fan.  I began reading his stuff back when I was 12 and haven’t stopped since.  The first King book I read was It.  I think that if I had read anything else other than It at the time, I would not have become such a huge fan.  I think it was the way King captured the minds and emotions of kids my own age that really brought the story to life.  It will always be one of my favorites, but the ones that I have enjoyed and re-read the most would be the Dark Tower books. 

While I love all of Stephen King’s works, I think his short stories are more powerful than his novels.  They are like bee stings or touching a pan that you don’t think is hot.  The pain and fear and thrill are immediate and intense, but you get over it quickly.  He drives the story home in just a few short pages, but those stories always stick around in my memory.  His short stories and novellas are always the perfect size to fit in my head.  Whenever I hear a story of someone stranded in the wilderness that had to survive for several days, I always think of Survivor Type.  Or when I see a pregnant woman, I can’t help but think of The Breathing Method.  Or when I see a beggar on the street, I always think that they might be like Blind Willie.  I can already see the connections to Blockade Billy forming in my head.  I recommend picking it up if you are a King fan.  You can’t borrow my copy, so please don’t ask.

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