Baseball is a sport that I have a hard time supporting. A few years ago (approx. 8 to be exact) I had seen a live game between the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, it's a totally different animal live. It comes across as lively and exciting. However, I cannot sit down and watch it on television - just doesn't do it for me.
That being said, I seem to enjoy fiction about the sport. I'm a big fan (and quite possibly one of the only ones) of 2005's Fever Pitch as well as Rookie of the Year and the Angels in the Outfield movies from my youth. Actually, when I was a youngster going through the sixth grade, we had bi-weekly creative writing assignments and I would always write short stories about baseball or hockey; sports in general really. I can't remember if they were ever any good - truth be told; they were probably terrible - but I loved writing them.
Anyway, this brings me to the subject of this review. I've been on a real Stephen King kick lately. I've read 4 of his books so far this year (The Dark Tower 1 and 2, Under The Dome, ..On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft) and have just finished my 5th, Blockade Billy.
Clocking in at a dismal 81 pages, Blockade Billy certainly doesn't overstay its welcome. King lets the story take the tone of a sit down interview; a casual conversation with someone knowledgeable of the sport. He builds the tension well over the short amount of time he's given himself - the reader is slowly given reason to suspect that Billy might not "be all there".
King lets his love of baseball shine through here, you believe that this is an era of the game that he misses fondly. He seems to take subtle digs at the state of the sport today; taking the opposition to "big money contracts" and the state of baseball's business aspect. Also, King throws in a ton of old baseball lingo but I never really felt lost in the conversation. It may have something to do with the fact that I know just enough about the game to get by - I have no idea how this will translate into the average Joe.
When I had finished, I sort of thought that maybe it had ended just a little too soon (I'm slowly becoming a fan of longer, more detailed fiction). After having a couple of days to sit on it, I think the amount of story is just perfect. This being the first short story I've read from him; it has me excited for this fall's "Full Dark; No Stars" short story collection. I'll be picking that up for sure.