[BOOKS] ⚦ Hearts in Atlantis Author Stephen King – Oaklandjobs.co.uk , , . No one has ever written the joys of boyhood better than Stephen King That s not what people talk about when they talk about him, but it s true It s a subject that needs to be written about entirely without pretense and absolutely free of language too large for ball games and playing in the mud Between this one, The Body, and It, the good reader will find himself transported into the actual moments of young pleasure, before girls take over and ruin the perfect freedom of true youth Not that girls are bad, of course, just that something breaks at the moment when boys become aware of them and it never comes all the way back Often, I wonder about how much of a man s life is spent trying to dance between the moment before and the excitement that comes after the discovery of girls This small gap is the space that King covers in several of his books and all of them are delightful and thrilling in the way that only a carnival can be to a young boy Moments of the supernatural and plot aside, it s this subject that draws me to the book.For reasons I can t fully explain, I ve read the first 200 pages of this one half a dozen times over the years but never finished it I ve purchased the audiobook twice by accident and bought the paperback two or three times lost copies I ve decided to finish it this time because it s been hanging there, a desire that s been unfulfilled and dangling over me for years Somehow, I need to be free of it, or at least have passed the experience into the history of my reading pleasures So here I go.William Hurt was a good choice for the audiobook There s something about his voice that s trance like and lulls you right in I m glad I ve decided to finally and fully experience the book in just this way.King himself read the the next two stories in the book Some reviewers suggested that the other stories were boring, but that wasn t my feel at all I quite enjoyed them, especially the title story I can see, however, that someone whose only reason for reading King is action horror excitement may not find much of value in a book that s mostly composed of nostalgia and a look back at the turning points that shaped us as people It s not exactly the stuff of horror lore If you re that sort, you might want to shuffle on and find another book because this one is far too delicate and filled with entirely too much longing for the adventure seeking reader.Hurt returned for the final story By now, the crossover between all the stories and characters was wrapped up tight and everywhere It seemed almost like a novel with shifting perspectives over the years Depending on your point of view, the interconnections could come across as overly coincidental or just a tidy way of letting us know where things ended up with various people we d come to know in their youth I prefer the latter Actually, I loved touching in on people years later, finding out how they d turned out without the direct story of it ever really being the point of the story itself.The plain fact is that this book got to me far than it should have It was a beautiful novel shaped like short stories and made of youth lost and memory unwound Maybe it took me so long to actually read it because I needed the years between to lose and of my past into the old fireplace of time Maybe I needed to remember only enough to know how much I d lost and how beautiful so much of it had been Maybe it s a book that can only be understood when your life has made the same sorts of strange turns and you look back, wondering, lost, wistful. I really felt like this is one of King s best collections The film version of HEARTS IN ATLANTIS was also excellent A great group of narrativesthis is one of my favorite King books. 5 For trying, and succeeding in a new concept Individual stories interconnected by a string.I loved this book This is, by far, one of Kings deepest books delving into the time period, one of tension and fear and the humanity of the characterstheir coming of age, their trials, their sanity, and even deaths It is far than a collection of short stories, as there is a continuation of characters throughout the book in some way in each story I m not saying that this is like a novel, it s a book with a string holding the stories together in a unique way We are able to see how a lot of the characters introduced in the novella that starts the book developed including one who seemed to get what was coming to him after attacking Carol Gerber brutally in the first story Nice touch I don t remember ever reading a set of short stories that were all linked together this way This book stands out from all of Kings other works Not a novel Not a group of great, but unrelated storiesI will say some of the stars are for even trying this new method.but that s not all, by far.One Note King writes masterfully, interconnecting the stories beautifully, trying something different and succeeding in my opinion but the people who are looking for horror and gore aren t going to find very much of it here You are likely to find a few tears and some anger Mr King, you are brilliantable to write anything.your creativity never ceases to amaze me The Vietnam war also plays a big role in this book as the characters age King was busy righting Carrie as it finally ended, so it is a time period he knows well, much better than me, as I did not live through it and love getting the fictionalized tales from that period of history I missedI find it interesting that he grew up during the time period the characters in these stories did, from childhood through adult this book not only follows King s time frame, but other similarities are herehe was raised mostly in New England, by a single mother, the threat of the draft was undoubtably a heavy topic with his college friends I love how much of his own life is mirrored in this and other stories, such as fighting alcoholism, etc It certainly comes across as ANT Vietnam war.so if you don t feel the same and you certainly did not have to live during the time period in question to have feelings on this one, since it s a huge part of recent history well, it just may make you mad.just think of all the relatively small wars we ve been involved in, and you can imagine how angering to see people you were in school with or could have been coming home in countless numbers in boxes It was a horrible time to be young in I imaginea fearsome time, in which being in college, or having young children protected you a bitAnd of course the ties to the dark tower are here.this book was written right after the fourth Dark Tower book and would be the perfect read then, as these events and even the character Ted Brautigan from the opening novella and closing story is in the DT books, being hunted, and escaping,and getting caught as we get a glimpse of here view spoiler which makes me furious at Liz, Bobby s selfish, albeit troubled with many things, mother in Low Men hide spoiler Before you go casting aspersions on this review, please note that I m not a big fan of these short story collections, and I only read this for the Dark Tower tie ins, which the first story delivered in spades.In Wolves of the Calla, Father Callahan shared some of his story with our ka tet Part of which involved his travels down highways in hiding, and the relentless pursuit of his trail by the Low Men in Yellow Coats So I was eager to learn about these mystery men through the first story in this collection What better way to kick things off than with this perfect little time capsule of 1960, and those sublime childhood days at the start of summer vacation with a couple of your best friends in tow Where there are seemingly new and exciting adventures waiting to be discovered, around every corner, and those friendships are sure to last forever Everything s just peachy, until a mysterious old man moves in upstairs, and those Low Men in Yellow Coats come sniffing around Sing it now It s a cruel cruel , cruel summer, leaving me here on my own Such an awesome little tale, which drew back the curtains on those Low Men Easy 4 stars.Next, we fast forward to 1966 for the titular story Hearts in Atlantis with the addition of some funny new characters We follow along as these freshmen struggle to adjust to college life, during a period of great turmoil in the US, only to end up mired in the Hearts tournament from hell The story started off strong enough, but then slowly devolves into a hippy drippy diatribe railing against the Vietnam War Sadly, once this can of worms was opened it became quite evident that this was to become the main focus of the rest of the stories I get it, brother, war is hell Especially ones we should have never gotten tangled up in to begin with, and doubly so when they re drafting unwilling participants into the shit storm Live and let live, put John Lennon s Imagine on an endless loop, that s my motto So please forgive me while I bury my head in the sand, but I don t care to spend so much time thinking about that tragedy, which could have should have been avoided, and all the lives lost to it This story fell to a low 3 stars, for me.The last three stories are all extremely short in comparison to the first two, and, excluding a couple of scenes with minor Dark Tower relevance, there s nothing too noteworthy Therefore, I d rate each of these 2 stars There are a few reoccurring characters which tie all the stories together nicely, making the book much interesting than it would have been otherwise Nevertheless, my overall average for the entire collection adds up to a paltry 2.6 stars Loved that first story and parts of the second, but I could have done without much of the rest. This is nowhere near being one of Kings scariest books, but it may possibly be one of the deepest novels he has written Being a child of the 60 s, having grown up in the Vietnam era, this book really hit home for me But it wasn t just because of the war itself This was a look into the hearts of man and woman.Interestingly enough, I started out in the first story being entertained in the fantasy of a tale that not only took me back to a time of my childhood but was also connected to King s Dark Tower series, a series I consider a masterpiece So yeah, I was having a good time but by the time I reached the fifth and last story of the book I was angry angry at war, angry at the man, angry at the government, angry at the system, angry at the atrocities of life and angry at the cruelty of my fellow human beings King s mastery in weaving a tale really begins when he introduces William Golding s Lord of the Flies as the book that Ted gives young Bobby to read Throughout the five stories we see the the same theme take place in the characters that Golding gave us in LOTF We have our young boys, stranded on an island to fend for themselves, slowly being overcome by their instincts, wildlings, feral Chasing the pig, wanting to stick the spear up its ass, and finally when that doesn t quite satiate the hunger of the beast, they turn on one another And so now, even though the boys and girls of King s story have all moved onaged, they still carry the scars, the nightmares Mamasan was murdered out there in the bush many years earlier but she still sits in their presence, forever staring with her accusing dead eyes Eyes that last stared at them when they ran her through with a bayonet Kill the pigstick the spear in its ass I can see where some might consider this a platform for King s politics, and even I have to restrain myself from using this review as a venting point But I did say in the beginning that this book was deep The 60 s are long gone, Vietnam is history, but here we are again When this was written the attacks on 9 11 had yet to happen King delved deeper into just the moment He shows us the beast If you think vampires, ghosts and rabid dogs are bad, watch what happens when we put the controls of video games in the hands of our children, sit them down in front of televisions where they get to watch Hollywoods glorified war movies and then hand them M 16 s and tell them to go and fight Pretty soon Mamasan will be sitting in their livingrooms with dead eyes while they scratch at the scars on their bodies and the scars on their minds Now, that will be one hell of a horror story. Hearts can break Yes, hearts can break Sometimes I think it would be better if we died when they did, but we don t Hearts in Atlantis is quite an unusual book is that it is comprised of 5 interlinking stories technically 2 novellas and 3 short stories that contain the same recurring characters and take place chronologically The stories refer to events that take place in the 1960s, primarily the Vietnam war I also feel like this will be quite hard to review without spoiling, so bear with me Low Men in Yellow Coats is the first novella and was actually my favourite part of the entire collection It tells the story of a young boy Bobby Garfield, who comes into contact with a strange man who moves in upstairs, Ted Brautigan, who possesses some physic abilities This story contains amazing Dark Tower references and connections, and as a DT junkie, this was SOOO exciting.The next novella was the self titled Hearts in Atlantis, which focuses on the story of Peter Riley, who gets addicted to playing the card game Hearts in the dorm when he is a student at the University of Maine This addiction interferes with his studies, which leaves him open to the possibility of being enrolled in the war Again, I really enjoyed this one The last three short stories Blind Willie, Why We re in Vietnam, Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling are focused on veterans and fallout from the Vietnam war The first two short stories are decent enough, but I only really enjoyed the last one Mainly because it involved Bobby Garfield One of my favourite things about this collection is the relationship between Bobby Garfield and Ted Brautigan King writes these kind of relationships so well You can just feel the love and admiration Bobby has for Ted, it s absolutely beautiful Ted becomes a surrogate father figure for Bobby Their discussions about books and literature are so heart warming, it s necessary for every child to have this kind of person in their life the person who ignites that passion for reading But not only is Ted under possible attack from the Low Men, but also from Bobby s mother, who has her suspicions about their blossoming friendship.I kinda feel like a main theme within this book is that of survivor guilt Those who either avoiding fighting in the Vietnam war or those who went and fought and came home alive In Hearts in Atlantis, the university students who become addicted to playing Hearts are basically flunking themselves out to war The main character just keeps getting closer and closer to the edge of that cliff until he forms a relationship with Carol from the previous novella Blind Willie is focused around a veteran s penance for his previous actions in the first novella of course Why We re in Vietnam is about two veterans basically discussing how their generation squandered the promise of the 60 s and their resultant commiserations The last short story is kind of of an epilogue than a story, revisiting both Bobby and Carol from the first novella A touching moment as they reminisce about the past.This was definitely a very enjoyable read, so the two novellas than the short stories It makes you think about this period of time and the Vietnam war, and how savage and pointless war can be Especially when you look at the impact it has on people who are living through it, as well as those who come out the other side Hard hitting and emotional Great work by the King If I could give six stars to this book, I would And seven And eightAnd nine And ten So This is not one of my favorite King books The first time I ever read it, I did so without realizing that it was a collection of inter related short stories, and not having read The Dark Tower series though, Ted wouldn t have made an appearance in that series way back when anyway, so , but either way it didn t really do much for me On subsequent reads, the confusion regarding the format is not there, but the stories just don t really grab me like I want them to, and how I m used to King s stories grabbing me I will say that they are much better appreciated by me now, at the age I am, and with the experience I now have, than it was when I first read it as a teen The first story is by far my favorite, and the one I always think of when I think of this book It s the one that speaks to me the most out of the whole collection I love Ted Brautigan s character, and seeing him in his little vacation to Connecticut is always interesting but definitely so now that I know where, and to what, he s taken by the Low Men in the yellow coats I like Ted s interaction with Bobby, and I like the way that the story kind of feels like a nightmare that s just getting going shifting between confusion and horror Liz s experience, the Low Men, etc , and normal summer reality for an 11 year old I also really liked Bobby, and I both liked, and pitied, the way he lost some of his innocence that summer He stopped seeing the world through a child s eyes, and as a result, his whole life shifted His relationship with his mother became a wary tightrope walk, when before it was simply Liz Rules The Roost Now Bobby has an understanding of things and though he still needs her, and loves her in his way, he doesn t like her much, and certainly doesn t respect her And she knows it I do pity Liz, though to a point She s raising a son on her own in a world where women are tolerated in the workplace allowed to get men their coffee, and answer the phones, and they better not complain if there s a little bit of a roaming eye or hand from the boss not if she wants to keep her job, that is I am sure it was hard But my grandmother did it and she had six kids to raise on her own That woman made miracle dinners from canned peas, butter, and crackers She made it work, and so, while I do appreciate that Liz was in a hard spot and I could understand her miserly ways I could only feel sorry for her to a point And then she completely ruined any pity that I had for her by being well, Liz She s judgmental, hypocritical, manipulative, greedy, and cruel She jumps to conclusions, and doesn t care if she s wrong, and her fear and anger lead her to make decisions that she should regret but probably doesn t She s too selfish to regret on anyone else s behalf even her son s I do like how the story mirrors, in parts, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding It has a certain tone that causes dread, even if you don t know why yet The other stories well, they just don t really do much for me There are characters that we recognize in each of them, and honestly, the subject matter in the remaining stories except the very last should speak to me than it does These are stories about the Vietnam war, and protesting it, and how that war changed an entire generation of people It should feel important but I found it just dragging on I will say that King writes an amazing story even when I m feeling the drag and not really feeling the story, the words on the page still paint a vivid picture and I can see it clearly in my mind I love that aspect of King s writing I m never at a loss when it comes to seeing what he wants to show me, it s just that sometimes I m not as interested as I feel I d need to be in order to fully appreciate it. Do the parts make a whole I m not sure But does it even matter when the totality adds up to something that held me totally enthralled from start to finish.The parts are made up of two novella length tales, two short stories and an epilogue that seeks to tie up loose ends The uniting theme here is, I guess, the Vietnam War, although maybe it s about growing up and discovery and friendship and pain I suppose it s for the reader to decide The stories flow chronologically and the first is set in 1960 We follow the plight of eleven year old Bobby Garfield who lives with his protective mother in Connecticut King paints a nostalgic picture of that time and for the most part it feels like a standard coming of age tale But Bobby befriends lodger Ted, who we gradually start to understand is a little odd Ted introduces Bobby to Lord of the Flies and other books he opens Bobby s eyes to a world Bobby s not seen before and a kind of hero worship begins to grip him But the events take a darker turn as Bobby s mother sets off for an ill fated business trip And what of Ted, what is to be made of the strange requests he s now making of Bobby The jump to story two is sudden and disconcerting We re thrust into the world of college students in 1966 Pete Riley is a freshman who needs to keep his grade average up to prevent himself from flunking out and, potentially, being shipped off to Vietnam via the draft But he becomes sucked in to a mania for the card game Hearts that is rampant within sections of the college He starts to stay up late playing the game, avoiding classes and study Before long he s in trouble his grades are falling and and early exit is starting to look like an inevitability This is a very different story but some continuity is provided by the inclusion of a girl named Carol Gerber, who appeared briefly in the first story as Bobby s first girlfriend In the two short stories that follow we meet up two Vietnam War veterans One spends his time impersonating a blind veteran, begging on the city streets, and the other is a salesman haunted by the violent death of a Vietnamese woman The uniting elements here are that both continue the war theme and characters from previous stories are drip fed into the narrative of the second of these In the final section Bobby returns to the town of his youth, a town he hasn t visited in 40 years, to attend a memorial service for a childhood friend This is really a continuance to or closure of the first story in the book.I listened to an audio version which was read by a combination of actor William Hurt and the author Hurt did a superb job and I can t help feeling that this version would have benefitted from having had him read all of the stories But I d have been happy to listen to a dozen and I was sad when the I d finished the book I m not going to get too hung up on the worth of each particular element here or whether the epilogue was a useful add on, I m just happy to spend time with stories from this brilliant writer I m already searching eagerly for my next Stephen King fix I ve had this on my book shelf since March It was one of the Stephen King books i was less bothered about reading because of a very stupid reason the Anthony Hopkins film A film i have never even seen but there s something about the ridiculous movie poster with a wizened Hopkins holding his palm out that put me off Shallow me Turns out the book is one of the best Stephen Kings I ve read The first story is the longest and has a connection to the dark tower I felt a nerdy shiver of joy envelop my spine when i read the phrases all things serve the beam and other worlds than these The story is about a beam breaker who has escaped from Algul Siento and is now being hunted by the low men or Can Toi to the initiated He moves into the apartment above Bobby Garfield and befriends him The second story is a weird combination of the card game Hearts and the Vietnam war I guess it s a coming of age story with a couple of links to story one The other stories are a lot shorter but are heavily linked to story one Blind Willie and Why we re in Vietnam tackle PTSD and the last story is a superb finale I ve read a couple of reviews that comment on the loose links between each story but i would have to disagree The book is one complete story split into five sections over a forty year period.A great book and i didn t even hesitate giving five stars Who cares if it isn t a horror story, Stephen King is just a great story teller The best.