(This post was originally titled “Odds ‘n’ Sods” and featured a mash-up of music reviews and a brief reference to the goings-on of the National Lacrosse League. As this blog has morphed into a dedicated book review site, the other writing has been removed by the author. – 19 April 2011).
Recently read Stephen King’s two-story publication “Blockade Billy” and “Morality” (Scribner, 2010)…I’m not a fan of baseball and by default, of baseball stories, but of course King hit a home run with the first piece (ya know I had to do it!). “Blockade Billy” is recounted in the vernacular by George “Granny” Grantham, former third base coach and equipment manager of the New Jersey Titans to author “Mr. King” himself, in an attempt to piece together the real story of William Blakely, aka Blockade Billy. A rookie catcher from rural Iowa sent in to rescue the team when their rostered catchers succumb to injury and other devices, William Blakely captivated fans and his teammates alike with his particular talents on the field. But it’s a Stephen King story, and it’s a given that Blakely harbours a horrifying secret. Granny’s account, full of nostalgia and reflections about the grand old days of the game, reveals the truth in delicious, satisfying time. “Morality” is a weaker story, with a plot so contrived and implausible that a lesser writer might have been hard pressed to get it published, BUT it works on every level because King is so unbelievably gifted with the pen. Nora and Chad are your typical wholesome, hard-working American couple struggling to make ends meet during recessionary times. They dream of settling down (in New England, natch), purchasing the perfect house with a white picket fence, and eventually having children. Things are looking dire on the financial front when Nora, a home-care nurse, is suddenly approached by her aged and stroke-ridden employer with an offer that promises great financial rewards. The story revolves around the repercussions of Nora’s decision, about the great cost that comes with bending the moral compass.