This books is four novellas: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body and The Breathing Method.
All four novellas are great in the way that the reader is intrigued the whole time trying to figure out how it is all going to end. The Breathing Method is weirdest of the four.
FROM THE BOOK:
RITA HAYWORTH AND THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
An unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge...The basis for the Best Picture Academy Award nominee, "The Shawshank Redemption".
Todd Bowden is one of the top students in his high school class and a typical American sixteen-year-old-- until be becomes obesessed with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. The inspiration for the film "Apt Pupil" from Pheonix Pictures.
Four rambunctious young boys plunge through the facade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death and intimations of their own mortality. The film "Stand by Me" is based on this novella.
THE BREATHING METHOD
A disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death.
I decidedly like King's short stories, novellas and shorter novels better than I like his longer works. This is a good group of novellas.
Four very good quality short stories. I never sat down to wath the Shawshank Redemption but I have to say if the movie is as good as the short story I can now understand all the hoopla about the movie.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption:
I've actually never seen the movie, so I came into this with no preconceived notions - and I expected Rita Hayworth to be one of the characters because I was unfamiliar with the person herself. Whoops! That said, I really enjoyed this story. I think King has a great skill for foreshadowing without giving the point away - I did not expect the ending at all, much less the method(s) of escape involved. I also really loved the characters in this one, especially Red. I happened to think the length of this novella is perfect (an opinion that only becomes important when compared with the next story.)
Oh, how I hated this story, let me count the ways. This. Story. Drug. It was a good 130 pages longer than it needed to be! Although the ending surprised me, and was a good one, and although there were several twists along the way, all that shined in this story came long after I had stopped caring about the characters. This from the girl who adored King's 1000 page epic Under the Dome. This story was just incredibly tedious and overlong. That said, I did enjoy the concept, Dussander's character and the ending, I just wish it had come 100 pages sooner.
This was as good as everyone claims it is! Although I don't tend to like growing up stories and am always wary when King ventures from his well trod horror niche, I found this story to be a grand success. All four of the boys were well developed (especially Chris) and it all tied together very neatly. The ending was excellent without being shocking. This is an average story of average boys on an unusual adventure. It didn't need the regular grand ending that King provides and I'm glad he recognized that.
The Breathing Method:
Although i loved this story, it was kind of all over the place. Was it about the club or about the pregnancy? King references this in the afterword of this edition as a strong point of the story - I thought the whole thing could have easily worked as two separate, excellent stories, and maybe in the process made two short stories (which, as is mentioned in the afterword, are much easier to deal with) versus one kind of rambling novella. That said, I think, if King was set on making this one story instead of two, it should have been longer. The main story got the attention it deserved, but the frame of it, which was just as interesting, was sadly neglected.
In conclusion, is this collection worth reading? Absolutely. But, unless you know what you're in for, don't trust the other reviews and avoid Apt Pupil!