Blockade Billy by Stephen King
Book Report by Vincent
In 2010 Stephen King’s Under the Dome was published and the world felt good. There was another enormous book by King everywhere books were sold, just as it should be. A few months after publication of that dome I was in Target and I spotted this small hardcover book by King called Blockade Billy. Two books in one year is not unusual for a prolific author, but I hadn’t heard anything about this book previously. Blockade Billy was much smaller than King’s usual releases and on the back was a fantastic set up: There was a baseball player that played in the majors for one year. He ended up doing something so horrible that he was stricken from all records and no one ever talks about him. The hardcover is just fantastic looking. It’s hard to resist wanting to read it after seeing that illustration and reading the back cover. I figured I’d eventually read Dome when it clogged up the used bookstores and I could get it for a dollar, so the winner had to be the smaller book that cost far less and had a neat air of mystery about it.
This is the first new work by King that I’ve been excited about reading in some time. The fact that it’s much shorter also helped raised my excitement, because I feel a lot of his strongest writing is in short stories and novellas. Unfortunately, Blockade Billy did not live up to my expectations.
The problem with reporting on a book like this is that if I go beyond the original premise, then it pretty much ruins the story if you actually want to read it. I’m left with basically saying that while it’s an excellent premise for a short novel, the payoff isn’t exactly mind blowing. If you’ve read a lot of King, you might not know exactly what is going to happen, but you’ll certainly have a good idea. Is it entertaining? Yes and I’d even say it was worth reading, especially since it is so short. However, it wasn’t exactly the story I had hoped for and one that might have been better off in a collection. I’ve read that the limited first printing of the book had illustrations and even came with a Billy Blockade baseball card. That would have been awesome. I think that might have turned the tide between keeper book and one that I’d pick up used and sell back.
The trade paperback version that I picked up also included a short story titled Morality. It’s another interesting concept story, but one that ends up being fairly forgettable.