Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

BLOCKADE BILLY by Stephen King

When I first heard about Blockade Billy and found out Stephen King would be doing another baseball story (after The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), I was excited. I think King’s period piece stuff is some of the best writing he does, and I really like these nostalgia trips he takes his readers on.

I enjoyed the baseball setting tremendously. King brings a vibrant world to life through his portrayal of Granny Grantham, and he evokes a deep passion of the confirmed baseball fan. I hope there will be some other Granny stories. Surely this isn’t the only one that character has to tell. I don’t care if it’s horror or just a straight tale of baseball played on the road.

King has Granny’s voice down perfectly, and I know the author wasn’t hanging around the ballfields when he was growing up because I read On Writing and knew what he was doing. However, King’s portrayal of that world seems spot on as well.

Blockade Billy Blakely is a larger than life tragic figure that most people have known under one name or another. A guy who never caught a break — until the one that changed his life forever. I have to admit, it hurt watching Billy sinking personally at the same time he was rising in the game. I locked into his idiosyncrasies, feeling comfortable and creeped out by him at the same time. Which was exactly what King wanted his readers to do.

The unveiling of the twists and turns wasn’t remotely supernatural, but those revelations were nonetheless chilling and horrifying. I didn’t quite figure the whole story out till King laid it out. Like a good relief pitcher, he kept hanging change-ups on the outside corners that came in at enough of an off-speed that he caught me out in front several times, and still ending up with nothing but a stirred breeze for my effort.

And when I saw the pitch come across the plate and I knew what it was, I didn’t want it. The end of the book manifested as one of those sickening ground-out doubles that you can’t beat out no matter how hard you try. Turning the last page, with the game already in the book, I was of mixed feelings about what I’d read. The story is equal parts tragedy and magician’s showcase.

The second story in this slim volume put my teeth on edge. I easily saw where this one was going, but there were scenes that still knotted my guts up, which was what King had designed the story to do. I read it, but I didn’t enjoy “Morality” as much as I wanted to. Maybe it was just the harsh story, but I didn’t connect with the characters at all. There was nothing in those pages to warm up to.

I noticed that some people griped about the pricing of the book. Personally, I felt great about it. It was about the price of a paperback these days, but it had a hardcover. And the cover art was exemplary. This is one of those books I won’t just get a reading experience from, but one that I’ll enjoy owning and seeing on the shelf. The package is beautiful.


2 Responses to “BLOCKADE BILLY by Stephen King”

  1. I dont want to read this book, but know that my patrons will be asking for it and want to discuss – could you do me a favor and send me the “deep dark secret?”

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