Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Blockade Billy" by Stephen King

Even the most diehard baseball fans don't know the true story of William "Blockade Billy" Blakely. He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first - and only - player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game's history. Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse... and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, will be able to reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.

This is a special hardcover edition by Cemetery Dance of this never-before-published novella by King. Now, normally I really enjoy King's short works. This wasn't my favorite, though, and I think it's simply because of the subject matter - baseball. Not a sport I personally play or enjoy.

The style is nice, though, with the former equipment manager of the New Jersey Titans narrating to "Mr. King" as if King is a reporter. George Grantham ("Granny" to the players) has seen a lot in his time, but nothing like that summer in the 1950s when William Blockade was called up from the Iowa Cornhuskers after two accidents take the Titans' catchers out the game. Billy is a bit of an odd duck, talking to himself under his breath and parroting back whatever he's told. But the kid can catch, and he can hit - making him a double threat. Billy becomes good friends with Danny Dusen, the Titans' pitcher who is nearing 200 home runs. But there's definitely something not right about Billy, something spooky....

As I said, this is a well-written novella, but just not my cup of tea due to the fact that it's about baseball. I'm not very schooled on all the rules, and some of the lingo didn't make much sense to me. I got the gist of the story, though, and thankfully, it's pretty short. I did like the end, the King twist that explains what's off about Billy - classic King. My real beef with this is the price. If you run out and purchase this very small 112 page book, it will cost you $25 retail. Um, excuse me? That's the typical price for a full novel! Instead, look for it at your local library or search for the 144 page edition that's about $10 less. Unless you're a collector of Stephen King's work, in which case you'll probably want this particular Cemetery Dance version.

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