So, if you read the back of this book, you get a pretty good sense of what you’re getting into. This is a collection of two long short stories, one the story of Blockade Billy, a catcher for a baseball team that has been OMG ERASED FROM HISTORY because he did an OMG HORRIBLE THING, which was so bad that even he was OMG ERASED FROM HISTORY. Not literally, so much as the history books just didn’t mention him, but dang if you don’t get this sense of dread reading the story, waiting to see what this OMG HORRIBLE THING is going to be.
So, if you didn’t catch it from my comments up there, let’s just say that the payout doesn’t really live up to the expectations. I mean, the guy did a bad thing, but it certainly wasn’t an OMG HORRIBLE THING that would justify erasing his history — as well as the existence of an entire Major League Baseball team — from the record. I was expecting some Cthulhu-ian sort of thing, or some other sort of association that was just too disturbing or otherwise unbelievable to put in the history books.
Stephen King is known for creating a great setup, and then being unable to pull it off in the end (It), but in this case, it wasn’t really his fault. The buildup in the story itself justifies the end, though it still doesn’t make the story interesting enough to justify it being published by itself; it was the publisher blurb that raised the expectations too high. Interestingly, the other story in this book — “Morality” — was much more satisfying, possibly because the publisher didn’t make it some sort of OMG HORRIBLE THING story. Though the events described in that story are pretty horrible, more so than in the title story.
Like any Stephen King story, it will pull you along and keep you reading. Unfortunately, a lot of the stories King has written lately, the stories themselves just aren’t all that interesting to read. Check this one out from the library if you absolutely must read it, but don’t expect too much out of it. Maybe it will be a better experience that way.