Saturday, June 05, 2010

Blockade Billy by Stephen King

Jim would have loved Stephen King's novella, Blockade Billy. He would have been so satisfied with a story that combined so much of what he loved, Stephen King, baseball, the story of a catcher, and a twisted ending only King could conceive.

George Grantham, the retired third base coach for the New Jersey Titans, tells "Mr. King" the story of a forgotten ballplayer, William "Blockade Billy" Blakely, and the 1957 season. The team had one terrible day in spring training when they lost both catchers. The catcher that showed up was a young man from Iowa, Billy Blakely. He was a little odd, talked to himself, and echoed back what others said. But, the team's star pitcher took a liking to him. And, even more important, the kid was so dangerous behind the plate that runners from third couldn't get past him. After he ruined one runner for life, and proved he could hit, the fans caught on. Soon, he had a nickname, and the fans showed up with their signs, "Road closed by order of Blockade Billy."

King himself said he wrote a story about the old timers, and the baseball he loves. And, the book has actual ballplayers on the teams playing the Titans. Combined with the story told to "Mr. King," the book has a ring of authenticity. And, once you've seen the reproduction baseball card with "Blockade Billy's" photo, you'll swear the story is true.

But, this is a Stephen King story. He's already won an O.Henry Award. And, he'll blindside you with an ending you don't expect. Oh, there's foreshadowing, and you know the story of Blockade Billy isn't going to have a happy ending. But, I doubt that you'll see it coming.

Stephen King's website is www.stephenking.com

Blockade Billy by Stephen King. Simon & Schuster, ©2010. ISBN 9781451608212 (hardcover), 101p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

13 comments:

Molly said...

Oh - this sounds just perfect to me! I will be sure to check it out.

Lesa said...

I hope you enjoy it, Molly. It won't take you long at all.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love the sound of this one! Surprise endings are my favorite...and I love that Norman Rockwell-esque cover.

Lesa said...

I hadn't thought of the cover that way, but you're right, Elizabeth. It does have echoes of Norman Rockwell. I'm a big fan of O. Henry type endings.

Anonymous said...

I just read the book,It was great.

Lesa said...

Glad you liked Blockade Billy!

Jennifer said...

It was a good book. I actually got it from the library for my son who is a major baseball fan of any team, any era. I read through it first and the language was a too harsh for me so I certainly wouldn't let him read it (he's 11). That was a bit disappointing because he would have loved the story.

Lesa said...

Well, he's just too young for it right now, Jennifer. When he's old enough, you can recommend the book to him. King's books will undoubtedly still be in the library.

And, I understand the language. I'm sure it's realistic for the time period. However, it's a shame your son couldn't read it yet.

John said...

I think the cover is really a reproduction of those awful sports stories for young readers us boys used to read in 5th grade. King even makes an allusion to the stories one read in junior high study hall. It really takes me back. Baseball is such a great backdrop for stories and characters. It wouldn't surprise me if this one got made into a movie some day.

Lesa said...

You're right, John. Baseball is a great backdrop. In fact, I heard a wonderful story this weekend in which one of the authors whose books are set in the West commented about a doubleheader played in the East on the same day as Custer's troops were wiped out at the Little Big Horn. Do you normally think of baseball and the Little Big Horn in the same era?

I agree this could be made into a movie some day.

Krendarian said...

One reason Stephen King attracted me initially in his early books as a young man myself was his "no-holds-barred" way of writing. Gives the 11 year old something to look forward read later in life when he can better understand how and why some adults use the language they do, especially in the man's game of baseball.

Lesa said...

Krendarian,

That's probably one reason my husband was attracted to Stephen King's books as well. You're right. That 11 year old does have that to look forward to when he reads King, and other books about baseball.

david sandlin said...

Stephen King is the greatest writer of the last four decades. It amazes me that he can be so prolific and such a great wordsmith