I’ve been reading too many books about adultery lately.
I never thought one could read too many books about adultery- after all, what better a subject to consume the entirety of one’s waking hours- yet here I am. Arthur Miller, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Gabriel Marquez, Fitzgerald - it seems a lot of dead dudes thought about cheating. Maybe a lot of alive dudes think about it too; I’m no clairvoyant. I’ve spent the past month reading divorce statistics in the United States, in other countries, on Mars. The whole thing’s got me thinking about what marriage is, this day and age, and what we as a society have come to hold sacred.
Sometimes I go outside to get sunlight and water my leaves. Eat a scoop of fertilizer. My friends are all like, “OMG look look look” and I’m like, “What hot guy? And do you have any thoughts about the evolution of marriage as a possibly outdated, merely economic-based institution?”
It has come to my attention that no one wants to have this discussion.
In the hopes of mending my social standing, last weekend I re-read my favorite Stephen King novel to put me in a more conversation-friendly mindset. Yeah, I realize the irony underlying this. Sometimes a girl just wants to switch from reading about adultery to death, you know? I was in the mood for either King or Twilight and come on, don't make me go down the Edward vs. Jacob road again. That was a dark time.
So. Different Seasons by the Master of Craft, Stephen King. I read this gem a few years ago during my pizza-face acne stage, and the novel almost blocked out all the nightmares I had of kids trying to eat my greasy red face. (Sometimes I dream of hordes of Abercrombie-sporting kids placing pepperonis on my cheeks while I’m tanning on a sunbathed beach, but that’s the fault of Albert Camus, not King. Thanks Camus.)
Different Seasons contains four different novellas: ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘Apt Pupil,’ ‘The Body,’ and ‘The Breathing Method.’ Most human beings living in the US have heard of ‘Shawshank’ because of the film based off of it, and the book’s far better than that stupid movie but you knew that, you smart well-read person you.
Who cares about ‘Shawshank,’ though, when you have ‘Apt Pupil,’ which was also made into a movie I hate talking about. ‘Apt Pupil’ really is the only reason I’m writing this review. The other three novellas are stellar, typical King with some great character work to boot, but ‘Apt Pupil’ is something else.
A boy suspects his elderly immigrant neighbor of being a Nazi war criminal, and get this- the neighbor is a Nazi war criminal! It all goes awesomely twisted from there. Light reading to complement the optimistic daily news, you know?
As a deftly-crafted thriller ‘Apt Pupil’ can stand alone, but it’s so much more than a typical Tuesday night for King enthusiasts. The novella explores the manifestation of curiosity, the psychological effects of blackmail, the brain’s odd relation to control, and the origins of prejudice and hate; the story discusses where violence starts and raises the ubiquitous question: are certain people born evil, or is evil something that must be carefully crafted by the midnight recesses and playgrounds of our minds?
I haven’t decided which is worse for maintaining friendships, reading about adultery or boys obsessed with Nazis.
I’ll get back to you on that.
Staff of Wellington Square Book Shop