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Stephen King, whose first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974, the year before the last U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam, is the first hugely popular writer of the TV generation. Images from that war -- and the protests against it -- had flooded America's living rooms for a decade. Hearts in Atlantis, King's newest fiction, is composed of 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.
In Part One, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," eleven-year-old Bobby Garfield discovers a world of predatory malice in his own neighborhood. He also discovers that adults are sometimes not rescuers but at the heart of the terror.
In the title story, a bunch of college kids get hooked on a card game, discover the possibility of protest...and confront their own collective heart of darkness, where laughter may be no more than the thinly disguised cry of the beast.
In "Blind Willie" and "Why We're in Vietnam," two men who grew up with Bobby in suburban Connecticut try to fill the emptiness of the post-Vietnam era in an America which sometimes seems as hollow -- and as haunted -- as their own lives.
And in "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," this remarkable book's denouement, Bobby returns to his hometown where one final secret, the hope of redemption, and his heart's desire may await him.
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.

Topics: 1960s, 1990s, Vietnam War, Coming of Age, Childhood, Friendship, Politics, College, Made into a Movie, Suspenseful, Dark, Short stories, Novella, Connecticut, and Third Person Narration

Published: Scribner on Sep 14, 1999
ISBN: 9780684844909
List price: $7.99
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I read only the first section after seeing the film with Anthony Hopkins and I loved it. Years later, I finally read the entire book. To me, this is King's finest work. It's one that I will read again, if I get around to it, or as Kurt Vonnegut put it in Slaughter House 5, "If the accident will."

Way to go, Stevie. You really hit a homer with this one.read more
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Another loose end from The Dark Tower is tied up, which is always good. King's theory of everything is at work in these five stories and I like them for that.read more
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Not one of King's best known works, but certainly one of his most thoughtful. Here, King cleverly exposes the prejudices of 1950s and '60s America without too much reliance on his trademark horror devices.All his books are worth reading, I think this is one of his best in a quiet way.read more
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I am not American. Maybe that's why I don't enjoy Stephen King as much as quite a lot of others.Somewhere into the book, I got the feeling that I was missing out on the "aside" -sensing that there was an emotional sweet spot which the Author had zeroed on, but I had on too thick a skin to feel it.I did read somewhere that Stephen King "allows" his novels to write themselves, without figuring out the end until he gets to it. Perhaps that could explain his allure - his loyal readers probably savour the atmosphere of his books , unlike, say, a Golden Age Locked-Room Mystery.There was , after all, a movie made with Anthony Hopkins in the lead.But I'd be interested in seeing how many people outside North America root for this.I give it three stars, not very common in my library.But I guess a lot of people really liked the book.read more
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I read Hearts several years ago. I don't think I finished this one. By the halfway point, it was becoming monotonous, increasing foul language that served no purpose (not that I'm a prude, but...enough already), a general feeling of, "where are we going with this story?" Not one of his better ones.read more
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A very masculine book with a hint of the autobiographical.I like Blind Willie best, although I doubt if any of the characters will linger in my mind as much as those from other King novels.read more
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Stephen King has been waging a war with his image for the last eighteen years. Ever since the release of his collection of novellas, "Different Seasons," King has been trying to persuade his public of adoring horror fans that he's not just a master of things that go bump in the night, he's also a--are you ready for this?--Legitimate Writer. By "legitimate," I mean serious; by "serious," I mean books without vampires, ghosts or zombies.While he still churns out stories that delight us with the nastier things in life, every now and then King also publishes a book ("Different Seasons," "Dolores Claiborne," and "Bag of Bones") that proclaims, "Hey, put me up on the bookshelf next to Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald." Okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but I swear that sometimes I can see an Oprah Book Club gleam in King's eye.Now, with "Hearts in Atlantis," he marches onto the literary battlefield holding high his "I'm a Serious Writer" banner. The result is a strange mix that sometimes hits, but mostly misses.Labeled on the cover as "New Fiction," the book is comprised of a short novel, a novella and three short stories that center around the Vietnam War and its lasting imprint on American society.The first piece, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is the closest thing to horror you'll find between these covers. Set in 1960, it tells the story of eleven-year-old Bobby Garfield and his best friends Carol and Sully-John as they spend their idyllic youth in Harwich, Connecticut. One day, a mysterious lodger moves into the apartment upstairs from Bobby and his widowed mother. The new boarder warns Bobby to watch out for sinister men prowling the neighborhood in their fancy pimp-mobiles (the "low men" referred to in the title). Without giving away any of the story's surprises, let's just say that if you've read the Dark Tower series or "The Regulators," those Low Men will be awfully familiar.The title story takes place in 1966 at the University of Maine where a group of students are obsessed with playing the card game Hearts. Outside their dormitory windows, of course, the Vietnam War protests are gathering steam. Things come to a head as some of the characters start to experience their own turmoil over loyalty versus betrayal. While it paints a fairly accurate picture of campus protests, this is probably the worst story of the whole lot. The characters are well-conceived, but there's not enough of a plot to carry them through to a satisfying conclusion."Blind Willie" and "Why We're in Vietnam" describe the lives of Vietnam veterans as they try to cope with the horrors they shared in combat. With the exception of "Low Men," the entire book centers around Vietnam, but never uses it as the direct setting. Instead, we get flashbacks in "Blind Willie" and "Why We're in Vietnam" to a My Lai incident which comes at us like a jump-cut movie, projecting lurid images in lightning flashes on our imaginations. You want monsters? King asks, I'll show you some real monsters--the kind that look just like you and me and occasionally go berserk. These two stories are the most unsettling and, consequently, the most powerful in the 522-page collection. Unfortunately, they're all too short. I found myself wanting to know more about these two characters.The final short story, "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," is a grace note to the rest of "Hearts," tying the interconnected characters and stories of the previous pages into a final, sweet epiphany as Bobby returns to Harwich to confront the ghosts of his past."Hearts in Atlantis" got better as it went along, each story building on the others and finally bringing the reader full circle to Bobby's story from "Low Men." Nonetheless, I was vaguely unsatisfied by this effort from Stephen King. He seemed to be trying too hard to shake the horror mantle. Certainly, he's got a way with words and these characters are some of the best developed in any of his books; but I think he overreached himself here. The plot is just not very engaging--it's like a symphony that builds and builds, then ends with a little tweet from a piccolo. I kept asking myself, if anyone else's name but Stephen King's was on the cover of this book, would it have rated very high on my scale of interest? Unfortunately, no.read more
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growing up in the 60s and post-Vietnam era. Great reading by William Hurtread more
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I really loved the first part of this book and if I stopped reading it at that point I probably would have given it 5 stars.read more
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Hearts in Atlantis is the second book I read for the War Through the Generations - Vietnam War challenge. When I was choosing the books to read for this challenge, I picked this one simply because it is written by Stephen King and I love his books. My plan is to read all his books, eventually!This book is made up of five novellas mostly based in the 60's, where Atlantis is essentially America. In the first novella, "Low Men in Yellow Coats", Bobby is a normal eleven year old who hangs out with his best friends Carol and Sully-John. When his new neighbor Ted moves in, Bobby finds a friend in the old man as they share their love for books and Bobby is introduced to Lord of the Flies. From there Bobby learns of the true evil some people are capable of and takes his first steps towards adolescence. Although this is not directly related to the Vietnam war, it prepares you for what's coming next.The second one, "Hearts in Atlantis", is narrated by Pete. Currently a freshman at the University of Maine, Pete and his friends become addicted to playing Hearts and are risking flunking out, which at that time meant being drafted for Vietnam. In this story, Carol has moved from Connecticut and goes to the same University as Pete, but Carol has changed a lot since her adventures with Bobby and Sully-John. In "Blind Willie", Willie Shearman is a Vietnam veteran who is doing penance for the biggest misdeeds he committed in his life, helping to beat Carol when he was a bully in his adolescence and the atrocities he committed in Vietnam."Why We're in Vietnam" details Sully-John's post-war experience when he attends a funeral of one of his fellow veterans. Even though a few years have gone by, Sully-John is still haunted by his experience in the Vietnam war, and especially by old mamasan, a Vietnamese woman that he has watched being brutally killed. Old mamasan visits him often and does so one last time as he's stuck in a traffic jam driving back from the funeral.Finally, "Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling" is the closing story in which Bobby returns to Connecticut to pay his last respects to his childhood friend. He is looking for answers and perhaps for redemption, when he meets Carol once again and discovers the fate of his friends.Hearts in Atlantis is not what King is usually famous for, i.e. horror and gory scenes but it reminds me more of Different Seasons by him, however I enjoyed this book much more. I started to like it from the very beginning and could not put it down until I finished it. My favorite story was definitely the first one, I loved the young Bobby and Ted and would have liked to see more of both characters in the other stories. The first novella also contains references to The Dark Tower series, which I have not yet read so far but after this book I am eager to find out more about it. The references to Vietnam are not always direct, but it gives you a lot to think about and more than once I had to stop and digest what I just read on how the Vietnam war divided the country and the repercussions that came after. King's style of writing in this book is as good as ever, he really cannot be beaten in that regard, every time I read a novel by him I remember why I like this author so much!read more
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The first part of the book is classic Stephen King. Great stuff. But it is really the second part of the book which I liked the most. Excellent social commentary and a lot of wise words. I just can't figure out how all of the sections of the book tie together.read more
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These 5 loosely connected novellas left me confused and cold. It never came together for me.read more
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Enjoyed this collection of stories more than I expected. The first story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is part of the Dark Tower canon, though the title story is King at his best as a writer.The movie took the name of the collection, but was based on "Low Men" alone. And it was terrible.read more
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Probably the best book that I have ever read. The characters are amazing, and I became a part of their lives as we wove through the strange tales told in the book. This book mixes real life with sci-fi and situational fiction so well that it was hard to put it down at any point. The movie, based on the book, has a completely different theme, feel, and conclusion.read more
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I find I like this author best when he explores the demons within rather than those external to his characters.read more
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A bit disjointed. It seemed to me that this could be broken into two separate novels. I liked both parts separately, but it never really came together for me.read more
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The part of the book that they made the movie out of was good, but then they switch to other stories and I got so lost. They weren't very good either.read more
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King takes us on a journey through time and presents the 60's in a way that only he can. First, through the eyes of an adolescent boy, and later through a number of characters, King writes a coming of age novel that centers around the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War. Though some of King's trademark style can be seen, the majority of the novel deals only with human life and emotions. Focusing on the web of incidental occurrences that link us all together.read more
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I love this book. Interesting tale about the Vietnam era (my father was drafted as a soldier, so I'm interested in this era). The supernatural events correspond to what happened during the times. Follows kids who eventually grow up and are "scarred" from their childhood.read more
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There's a lot to like about this collection of long stories. The opener, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is set firmly in the Dark Tower universe but also a great standalone coming-of-age story. The remaining stories are about the Vietnam generation, both during the war and after it, and aren't necessarily the supernatural horror that King is known for. Of these, the most compelling are the title story and "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," the last story, but the entire collection is very good writing and kind of a departure for King.read more
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Eh, no "real review" this time. This is an older book that has been reviewed a hundred times. Anyway, I wrote a llloooooonnnnng "What I thought".I knew that, eventually, I’d give Stephen King another try. I was very near mortally scarred by reading The Stand when I was 12 or 13. Look people, I’ve never even seen a Friday the 13th or anything like that. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen is Silence of the Lambs. I was a restless sleeper for weeks after seeing The Blair Witch Project. As for books, I still get goosebumps when I think of Christina’s Ghost or Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.Suffice it to say, I’m a wimp.Anyway, this book didn’t look to scawwy. It seemed to fall into the Non-horror-Stephen-King category (of which I’ve seen several movies…).This is technically a collection of short stories, but it reads more like a novel. A few characters wind a common thread between the five stories.We begin with Low Men in Yellow Coats: it is 1960. Three friends; Bobby, Carol, and Sully-John; live in a pretty little suburb in Connecticut. Bobby has a new upstairs neighbor, a strange older man named Ted. Against Bobby’s widowed mother’s wishes, he and Ted become friends. Bobby was recently gifted an adult library card, and Ted guides him through the world of adult fiction. Bobby’s mother constantly worries that Ted is abusing Bobby…there’s definitely a very King-esque creepy-old-man vibe coming from Ted. But the strangest thing that Ted does is warn Bobby about “Low Men in Yellow Coats”, and tells him to be on the lookout for strange things in his idyllic, suburban neighborhood: lost pet signs, upside down car-for-sale ads, things like that. This story is a great example of another common Stephen King theme: boys coming of age.One thing happened that I feel I have to mention – Ted, at one point, mentioned “The Gunslinger.” ‘The Gunslinger!’ I thought. ‘Like, the Dark Tower Gunslinger?’ A few pages later, the Dark Tower is mentioned. I slammed down the book. I know OF The Dark Tower. I know it’s a lengthy series of novels, and I very VERY MUCH do NOT want to get involved in a series right now. I went to my handy catalog and only picked Hearts in Atlantis up again after I’d ascertained that it was not one of the Dark Tower series. In fact, those two little mentions were all that was said of it. Someday, when I have the time to get involved with a series, I hope to find out why King mentioned it in passing in this book.Flash forward to 1966. Peter Riley’s a freshman at the University of Maine. He arrives on the first day with a Barry Goldwater bumper sticker on his car, and leaves at the end of the year with a hand-drawn peace sign on the back of his jacket. In between, he plays a helluva lot of Hearts and flirts with the pretty girl he works with in the cafeteria dishroom, Carol from Connecticut. I liked this story the best of them all because, well, I wasted away a large chunk of my college years playing euchre. I know of what Peter Riley speaks.Blind Willie Speaks finally takes us out of the 1960’s. Willie is a seemingly normal businessman in 1983 – but he is haunted by two incidents in his life: the senseless beating of a girl when he was a bully growing up in Connecticut, and what happened when he wound up in Viet Nam. What he does to cope may seem outlandish to some, but whatever keeps him going, I guess. This, and the following two stories, is far shorter and more snapshot-like than the first two.Why We’re in Viet Nam is probably the shortest story, but the one that haunted me the most. Sully-John meets with a fellow veteran at a third’s funeral, and they speak of things that they can only talk to each other about. In particular, of the My Lai massacre: the Hearts-obsessed soldier and Mama-san the old Vietnamese woman that he killed. This story is of a deeply troubled man and the ghosts of his past. I loved it.Finally, we get to “Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling”. At first, I was kind of annoyed at this sort of neatly-tied-up ending to the book. It does give resolution to a couple of the folks in the stories.So! Stephen King: I enjoyed it. At some point, I’ll try another one. I think I’d like to read another one of his books when I have the time to really get into it and read large chunks at a time. This book was read in bits and pieces – I felt like I couldn’t really get sucked in when I kept being interrupted by LIFE.read more
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In which Stephen King writes a "Wonder Years" episode. Well, more like the whole series. Ugh.Hearts in Atlantis is not a horror book at all. It's been out a while, and picked it up for cheap used, and didn't know this about it. It follows the life of an uninteresting kid from the Northeast leading an unremarkable life in the 50's, becoming a rather timid "radical" in the 60's, and an aging boomer father by the end. In the mean time, we meet the mundane people of his life, childhood bullies, bad influences in college (why study when there is money to be made playing Hearts?), friends who go to Viet Nam; some who suffer from debilitating illness. I didn't care about a single one -- for the first time, King's power of character creation was utterly lost on me.Other King books have started out slow but managed to generate SOME interest by the end. This never did. I kept waiting for a justification that I did not waste 19 hours of my life listening to this, but it never came.read more
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Every time I try and do King, I end up disappointed. This one was no exception.read more
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One of my favorite SK books. Great stories, minimal scariness. One great cautionary tale for college freshman about the importance of maintaining focus. Love the tie ins to the Dark Tower series.read more
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Another great display of how King can write from the perspective of a child.read more
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As a collection I found this quite weak,but Bobby's story did pull at my heart stringsread more
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I loved the writing in this book. Very descriptive. I could also identify deeply with the characters. One of the biggest reasons I liked this book was the crossover sections from the Gun Slinger Series. If you don't love the Gun Slinger Series this book may not be as enjoyed.read more
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This is surely among SK's best work! The title novelette is followed by a straight on anti-war Vietnam piece, the only one SK has done so directly.read more
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Great book. Heart-wrenching in many ways. Cool connection to the Dark Tower Series. Definitely read this book before reading Dark Tower 6-7.read more
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"Low Men in Yellow Coats" boosts this an extra half star. The story is the best in the collection and William Hurt's narration only adds to the value of this collection.read more
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I read only the first section after seeing the film with Anthony Hopkins and I loved it. Years later, I finally read the entire book. To me, this is King's finest work. It's one that I will read again, if I get around to it, or as Kurt Vonnegut put it in Slaughter House 5, "If the accident will."

Way to go, Stevie. You really hit a homer with this one.
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Another loose end from The Dark Tower is tied up, which is always good. King's theory of everything is at work in these five stories and I like them for that.
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Not one of King's best known works, but certainly one of his most thoughtful. Here, King cleverly exposes the prejudices of 1950s and '60s America without too much reliance on his trademark horror devices.All his books are worth reading, I think this is one of his best in a quiet way.
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I am not American. Maybe that's why I don't enjoy Stephen King as much as quite a lot of others.Somewhere into the book, I got the feeling that I was missing out on the "aside" -sensing that there was an emotional sweet spot which the Author had zeroed on, but I had on too thick a skin to feel it.I did read somewhere that Stephen King "allows" his novels to write themselves, without figuring out the end until he gets to it. Perhaps that could explain his allure - his loyal readers probably savour the atmosphere of his books , unlike, say, a Golden Age Locked-Room Mystery.There was , after all, a movie made with Anthony Hopkins in the lead.But I'd be interested in seeing how many people outside North America root for this.I give it three stars, not very common in my library.But I guess a lot of people really liked the book.
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I read Hearts several years ago. I don't think I finished this one. By the halfway point, it was becoming monotonous, increasing foul language that served no purpose (not that I'm a prude, but...enough already), a general feeling of, "where are we going with this story?" Not one of his better ones.
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A very masculine book with a hint of the autobiographical.I like Blind Willie best, although I doubt if any of the characters will linger in my mind as much as those from other King novels.
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Stephen King has been waging a war with his image for the last eighteen years. Ever since the release of his collection of novellas, "Different Seasons," King has been trying to persuade his public of adoring horror fans that he's not just a master of things that go bump in the night, he's also a--are you ready for this?--Legitimate Writer. By "legitimate," I mean serious; by "serious," I mean books without vampires, ghosts or zombies.While he still churns out stories that delight us with the nastier things in life, every now and then King also publishes a book ("Different Seasons," "Dolores Claiborne," and "Bag of Bones") that proclaims, "Hey, put me up on the bookshelf next to Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald." Okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but I swear that sometimes I can see an Oprah Book Club gleam in King's eye.Now, with "Hearts in Atlantis," he marches onto the literary battlefield holding high his "I'm a Serious Writer" banner. The result is a strange mix that sometimes hits, but mostly misses.Labeled on the cover as "New Fiction," the book is comprised of a short novel, a novella and three short stories that center around the Vietnam War and its lasting imprint on American society.The first piece, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is the closest thing to horror you'll find between these covers. Set in 1960, it tells the story of eleven-year-old Bobby Garfield and his best friends Carol and Sully-John as they spend their idyllic youth in Harwich, Connecticut. One day, a mysterious lodger moves into the apartment upstairs from Bobby and his widowed mother. The new boarder warns Bobby to watch out for sinister men prowling the neighborhood in their fancy pimp-mobiles (the "low men" referred to in the title). Without giving away any of the story's surprises, let's just say that if you've read the Dark Tower series or "The Regulators," those Low Men will be awfully familiar.The title story takes place in 1966 at the University of Maine where a group of students are obsessed with playing the card game Hearts. Outside their dormitory windows, of course, the Vietnam War protests are gathering steam. Things come to a head as some of the characters start to experience their own turmoil over loyalty versus betrayal. While it paints a fairly accurate picture of campus protests, this is probably the worst story of the whole lot. The characters are well-conceived, but there's not enough of a plot to carry them through to a satisfying conclusion."Blind Willie" and "Why We're in Vietnam" describe the lives of Vietnam veterans as they try to cope with the horrors they shared in combat. With the exception of "Low Men," the entire book centers around Vietnam, but never uses it as the direct setting. Instead, we get flashbacks in "Blind Willie" and "Why We're in Vietnam" to a My Lai incident which comes at us like a jump-cut movie, projecting lurid images in lightning flashes on our imaginations. You want monsters? King asks, I'll show you some real monsters--the kind that look just like you and me and occasionally go berserk. These two stories are the most unsettling and, consequently, the most powerful in the 522-page collection. Unfortunately, they're all too short. I found myself wanting to know more about these two characters.The final short story, "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," is a grace note to the rest of "Hearts," tying the interconnected characters and stories of the previous pages into a final, sweet epiphany as Bobby returns to Harwich to confront the ghosts of his past."Hearts in Atlantis" got better as it went along, each story building on the others and finally bringing the reader full circle to Bobby's story from "Low Men." Nonetheless, I was vaguely unsatisfied by this effort from Stephen King. He seemed to be trying too hard to shake the horror mantle. Certainly, he's got a way with words and these characters are some of the best developed in any of his books; but I think he overreached himself here. The plot is just not very engaging--it's like a symphony that builds and builds, then ends with a little tweet from a piccolo. I kept asking myself, if anyone else's name but Stephen King's was on the cover of this book, would it have rated very high on my scale of interest? Unfortunately, no.
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growing up in the 60s and post-Vietnam era. Great reading by William Hurt
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I really loved the first part of this book and if I stopped reading it at that point I probably would have given it 5 stars.
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Hearts in Atlantis is the second book I read for the War Through the Generations - Vietnam War challenge. When I was choosing the books to read for this challenge, I picked this one simply because it is written by Stephen King and I love his books. My plan is to read all his books, eventually!This book is made up of five novellas mostly based in the 60's, where Atlantis is essentially America. In the first novella, "Low Men in Yellow Coats", Bobby is a normal eleven year old who hangs out with his best friends Carol and Sully-John. When his new neighbor Ted moves in, Bobby finds a friend in the old man as they share their love for books and Bobby is introduced to Lord of the Flies. From there Bobby learns of the true evil some people are capable of and takes his first steps towards adolescence. Although this is not directly related to the Vietnam war, it prepares you for what's coming next.The second one, "Hearts in Atlantis", is narrated by Pete. Currently a freshman at the University of Maine, Pete and his friends become addicted to playing Hearts and are risking flunking out, which at that time meant being drafted for Vietnam. In this story, Carol has moved from Connecticut and goes to the same University as Pete, but Carol has changed a lot since her adventures with Bobby and Sully-John. In "Blind Willie", Willie Shearman is a Vietnam veteran who is doing penance for the biggest misdeeds he committed in his life, helping to beat Carol when he was a bully in his adolescence and the atrocities he committed in Vietnam."Why We're in Vietnam" details Sully-John's post-war experience when he attends a funeral of one of his fellow veterans. Even though a few years have gone by, Sully-John is still haunted by his experience in the Vietnam war, and especially by old mamasan, a Vietnamese woman that he has watched being brutally killed. Old mamasan visits him often and does so one last time as he's stuck in a traffic jam driving back from the funeral.Finally, "Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling" is the closing story in which Bobby returns to Connecticut to pay his last respects to his childhood friend. He is looking for answers and perhaps for redemption, when he meets Carol once again and discovers the fate of his friends.Hearts in Atlantis is not what King is usually famous for, i.e. horror and gory scenes but it reminds me more of Different Seasons by him, however I enjoyed this book much more. I started to like it from the very beginning and could not put it down until I finished it. My favorite story was definitely the first one, I loved the young Bobby and Ted and would have liked to see more of both characters in the other stories. The first novella also contains references to The Dark Tower series, which I have not yet read so far but after this book I am eager to find out more about it. The references to Vietnam are not always direct, but it gives you a lot to think about and more than once I had to stop and digest what I just read on how the Vietnam war divided the country and the repercussions that came after. King's style of writing in this book is as good as ever, he really cannot be beaten in that regard, every time I read a novel by him I remember why I like this author so much!
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The first part of the book is classic Stephen King. Great stuff. But it is really the second part of the book which I liked the most. Excellent social commentary and a lot of wise words. I just can't figure out how all of the sections of the book tie together.
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These 5 loosely connected novellas left me confused and cold. It never came together for me.
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Enjoyed this collection of stories more than I expected. The first story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is part of the Dark Tower canon, though the title story is King at his best as a writer.The movie took the name of the collection, but was based on "Low Men" alone. And it was terrible.
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Probably the best book that I have ever read. The characters are amazing, and I became a part of their lives as we wove through the strange tales told in the book. This book mixes real life with sci-fi and situational fiction so well that it was hard to put it down at any point. The movie, based on the book, has a completely different theme, feel, and conclusion.
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I find I like this author best when he explores the demons within rather than those external to his characters.
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A bit disjointed. It seemed to me that this could be broken into two separate novels. I liked both parts separately, but it never really came together for me.
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The part of the book that they made the movie out of was good, but then they switch to other stories and I got so lost. They weren't very good either.
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King takes us on a journey through time and presents the 60's in a way that only he can. First, through the eyes of an adolescent boy, and later through a number of characters, King writes a coming of age novel that centers around the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War. Though some of King's trademark style can be seen, the majority of the novel deals only with human life and emotions. Focusing on the web of incidental occurrences that link us all together.
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I love this book. Interesting tale about the Vietnam era (my father was drafted as a soldier, so I'm interested in this era). The supernatural events correspond to what happened during the times. Follows kids who eventually grow up and are "scarred" from their childhood.
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There's a lot to like about this collection of long stories. The opener, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," is set firmly in the Dark Tower universe but also a great standalone coming-of-age story. The remaining stories are about the Vietnam generation, both during the war and after it, and aren't necessarily the supernatural horror that King is known for. Of these, the most compelling are the title story and "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling," the last story, but the entire collection is very good writing and kind of a departure for King.
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Eh, no "real review" this time. This is an older book that has been reviewed a hundred times. Anyway, I wrote a llloooooonnnnng "What I thought".I knew that, eventually, I’d give Stephen King another try. I was very near mortally scarred by reading The Stand when I was 12 or 13. Look people, I’ve never even seen a Friday the 13th or anything like that. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen is Silence of the Lambs. I was a restless sleeper for weeks after seeing The Blair Witch Project. As for books, I still get goosebumps when I think of Christina’s Ghost or Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.Suffice it to say, I’m a wimp.Anyway, this book didn’t look to scawwy. It seemed to fall into the Non-horror-Stephen-King category (of which I’ve seen several movies…).This is technically a collection of short stories, but it reads more like a novel. A few characters wind a common thread between the five stories.We begin with Low Men in Yellow Coats: it is 1960. Three friends; Bobby, Carol, and Sully-John; live in a pretty little suburb in Connecticut. Bobby has a new upstairs neighbor, a strange older man named Ted. Against Bobby’s widowed mother’s wishes, he and Ted become friends. Bobby was recently gifted an adult library card, and Ted guides him through the world of adult fiction. Bobby’s mother constantly worries that Ted is abusing Bobby…there’s definitely a very King-esque creepy-old-man vibe coming from Ted. But the strangest thing that Ted does is warn Bobby about “Low Men in Yellow Coats”, and tells him to be on the lookout for strange things in his idyllic, suburban neighborhood: lost pet signs, upside down car-for-sale ads, things like that. This story is a great example of another common Stephen King theme: boys coming of age.One thing happened that I feel I have to mention – Ted, at one point, mentioned “The Gunslinger.” ‘The Gunslinger!’ I thought. ‘Like, the Dark Tower Gunslinger?’ A few pages later, the Dark Tower is mentioned. I slammed down the book. I know OF The Dark Tower. I know it’s a lengthy series of novels, and I very VERY MUCH do NOT want to get involved in a series right now. I went to my handy catalog and only picked Hearts in Atlantis up again after I’d ascertained that it was not one of the Dark Tower series. In fact, those two little mentions were all that was said of it. Someday, when I have the time to get involved with a series, I hope to find out why King mentioned it in passing in this book.Flash forward to 1966. Peter Riley’s a freshman at the University of Maine. He arrives on the first day with a Barry Goldwater bumper sticker on his car, and leaves at the end of the year with a hand-drawn peace sign on the back of his jacket. In between, he plays a helluva lot of Hearts and flirts with the pretty girl he works with in the cafeteria dishroom, Carol from Connecticut. I liked this story the best of them all because, well, I wasted away a large chunk of my college years playing euchre. I know of what Peter Riley speaks.Blind Willie Speaks finally takes us out of the 1960’s. Willie is a seemingly normal businessman in 1983 – but he is haunted by two incidents in his life: the senseless beating of a girl when he was a bully growing up in Connecticut, and what happened when he wound up in Viet Nam. What he does to cope may seem outlandish to some, but whatever keeps him going, I guess. This, and the following two stories, is far shorter and more snapshot-like than the first two.Why We’re in Viet Nam is probably the shortest story, but the one that haunted me the most. Sully-John meets with a fellow veteran at a third’s funeral, and they speak of things that they can only talk to each other about. In particular, of the My Lai massacre: the Hearts-obsessed soldier and Mama-san the old Vietnamese woman that he killed. This story is of a deeply troubled man and the ghosts of his past. I loved it.Finally, we get to “Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling”. At first, I was kind of annoyed at this sort of neatly-tied-up ending to the book. It does give resolution to a couple of the folks in the stories.So! Stephen King: I enjoyed it. At some point, I’ll try another one. I think I’d like to read another one of his books when I have the time to really get into it and read large chunks at a time. This book was read in bits and pieces – I felt like I couldn’t really get sucked in when I kept being interrupted by LIFE.
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In which Stephen King writes a "Wonder Years" episode. Well, more like the whole series. Ugh.Hearts in Atlantis is not a horror book at all. It's been out a while, and picked it up for cheap used, and didn't know this about it. It follows the life of an uninteresting kid from the Northeast leading an unremarkable life in the 50's, becoming a rather timid "radical" in the 60's, and an aging boomer father by the end. In the mean time, we meet the mundane people of his life, childhood bullies, bad influences in college (why study when there is money to be made playing Hearts?), friends who go to Viet Nam; some who suffer from debilitating illness. I didn't care about a single one -- for the first time, King's power of character creation was utterly lost on me.Other King books have started out slow but managed to generate SOME interest by the end. This never did. I kept waiting for a justification that I did not waste 19 hours of my life listening to this, but it never came.
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Every time I try and do King, I end up disappointed. This one was no exception.
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One of my favorite SK books. Great stories, minimal scariness. One great cautionary tale for college freshman about the importance of maintaining focus. Love the tie ins to the Dark Tower series.
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Another great display of how King can write from the perspective of a child.
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As a collection I found this quite weak,but Bobby's story did pull at my heart strings
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I loved the writing in this book. Very descriptive. I could also identify deeply with the characters. One of the biggest reasons I liked this book was the crossover sections from the Gun Slinger Series. If you don't love the Gun Slinger Series this book may not be as enjoyed.
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This is surely among SK's best work! The title novelette is followed by a straight on anti-war Vietnam piece, the only one SK has done so directly.
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Great book. Heart-wrenching in many ways. Cool connection to the Dark Tower Series. Definitely read this book before reading Dark Tower 6-7.
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"Low Men in Yellow Coats" boosts this an extra half star. The story is the best in the collection and William Hurt's narration only adds to the value of this collection.
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