By Stephen King
Cemetery Dance Pub.
May, 2010; $25.00
A bit of a surprise is a new novella from Stephen King – just in time for Baseball season. A new book from King always is an attention grabber, and a brand new one from any small press publisher is even more of one. Cemetery Dance, a mid-level publisher known for limited editions and for publishing a few of King’s book in the signed/limited edition form, as well as a few nonfiction books on the man, is the lucky winner of this prize.
Stephen King has made no secret of his love for the sport, with most notably his novel The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, his New Yorker essay “Head Down” (later reprinted in Nightmares and Dreamscapes ), and his non-fiction collaboration with Stewart O’Nan, Faithful. So not too much of a surprise there. More of a surprise was that there was virtually no press about this until one month before its release when pre-orders started being taken.
The story itself is somewhat brief – all of a little over 100 pages of larger type. It tells the tale of one William Blakely, who is called up by the New Jersey Titans – a team that is virtually unknown by this day – to fill in as the catcher for this pro club. As it turns out, Billy is not only a good hitter, but an unmovable object as a catcher protecting home base (thus the nickname Blockade) . But something is slightly off about Billy, as more is soon revealed.
Not as strong as some of King’s earlier novellas like “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, “The Body”, or “Secret Doors, Secret Windows” – but a fun, quick read nevertheless. This one’s selling out very fast in a limited 10,000 copy run with a special, collectible “William Blakely” baseball card. So grab one while you still can! (The word is that Scribner’s is now coming out with a mass-market version soon without the card and adding the extra story “Mortality”, but chances are still good that the CD version will be pretty collectible down the road – especially if you save the card!). There was a signed/limited edition of a very small number offered for a much higher price by publisher affiliate Lonely Road Books, but that sold out in the blink of an eye!
– Trever Nordgren