Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Billy vs. Morality

Just finished reading Stephen King's latest: 'Blockade Billy' (with the bonus story 'Morality.') It's a quite small book that you can easily read in one sitting - I enjoyed this national past-time tale, but had a few problems with the ending. First off - for something that is basically a long short story, King throws in A LOT of swear words - even for him. I know this isn't Shakespeare and you have to expect some degree of vulgarity with Mr. King's works, but this entry was particularly crass with f-bombs being dropped in every other paragraph. A small point - but one worth mentioning if you think this is going to be a nostalgic baseball tome like King's Faithful - or even his little league short story Head Down.

The other problem I had with the book was the ending. King develops a marvelous build-up which I expected to pay off in one of two ways: the supernatural or espionage (I was wrong on both counts). Instead, we get a more mundane finale that, while violent, failed to really answer the question of WHY, exactly, the team was completely erased from the history books - a plot point used to great effect in the promotion of the book. The team actually gets to finish the season - but no explanation is ever put forth as to why this major league baseball team was disbanded at the end of the 1957 season.

Still, I found Blockade Billy to be an engrossing tale - one that lover's of King and/or the great game of baseball should enjoy. Morality, on the other hand, was a brutal little story that truly shocked me (something King hasn't done often in recent years). Violent, edgy, full of tension - Morality reads like one of King's darker tales from his early days. Again avoiding the leap into the paranormal - something I think King does all to easily anymore - this grim tale is grounded in a perverse reality that you might not expect. Not to be read by those with a sensitive stomach, Morality comes out the real winner in the pages of Blockade Billy.

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