In 1982, one of my favorite Stephen King books Different Seasons was published, consisting of four novellas that each correspond to a season of the year. I love this book so much because three out of the four tales do not have anything whatsoever to do with the supernatural — a bit of a departure for King. One of his strengths as a writer is his ability to create real flesh and blood people who populate his stories, no matter how crazy things get. This ability especially shines in Different Seasons, and anyone who doubts the writing talent of Stephen King should read at least one of the stories from this book.
Three of the four stories, the same three that do not rely on anything supernatural, have been made into films — the first being Stand By Me which was adapted from The Body. The second film to come from this source was The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Frank Darabont’s flawless adaptation of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Unfortunately my favorite of these stories, Apt Pupil, failed as a film (released in 1998), mainly due to the fact that director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Brandon Boyce changed the ending so significantly that they pretty much rendered the rest of the story pointless.
The screenplay for Stand By Me, by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (who also wrote 1984’s Starman) is remarkably faithful to its source, right down to the moment where Gordie encounters the deer — one of my favorite little incidents from King’s story that I couldn’t believe made it into the movie. Future adapters of Stephen King material take note: it’s the small character moments like this that make me an admirer of the author’s work, and leaving such moments out of the movie — even though they might not advance the plot — is utterly stupid.