Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
Five interconnected, sequential narratives, set in the years from 1960 to 1999. Each story is deeply rooted in the sixties, and each is haunted by the Vietnam War.Full of danger, full of suspense, most of all full of heart, Stephen King's new book will take some readers to a place they have never been...and others to a place they have never been able to completely leave.
This novel doesn’t fall under King’s usual bracket, but it’s something quite wonderful. In the space of five short stories, we’re immediately immersed in childhood nostalgia, then swept through life in different stages, each of these manned by a different character, all of them connected in some way.
There really is something to be said about King’s writing here. In the initial story, his ability to convey the feelings of innocence and awe of an eleven year old boy just felt magical somehow. That feeling where the world is huge, with lots to discover; that feeling just before real life hits.Then he shows us college life, middle age, and ultimately death. The way he switched his style through all of these was impressive, immersive, and awfully engaging.
Of course, the VIetnam war was a constant throughout each of the stories. We see its beginnings, we see student revolts, we see the war itself and finally we see its grasp on the psyche of those who experienced it. Very harrowing, and very real.
The whole novel and its interlocking narratives seemed to me like a commentary on how life moulds us. One single event could dictate the rest of your life, and how you view things. Add war into the mix, and it’s possible you never truly escape that one single moment where everything changed.
A true triumph from King - one I wasn’t expecting - and, without a doubt, one of his best collections.