I was so excited to see Stand by Me when it came out that I didn’t know what to do. I was in a rough spot: my parents didn’t want me watching movies that were rated R, but they also went to see this movie in the theater and told me how much I’d like it…one day. At the time I was just getting into horror fiction, and I had no idea that the plot of the movie was from the story The Body by Stephen King, from the collection Different Seasons.
It’s not really a horror story, but it is still, for me, one of the most enjoyable things King has written. Here’s a brief summary without spoilers.
In a small town in Maine, a boy named Ray decides to go for a long walk to pick berries. When he never returns, Gordie Lachance and his three best friends decide to go look for him–or his body, in case he’s no longer alive.
Watching these four kids interact is the real pleasure of the novella. They swear, they tell stories, they reveal things about themselves, they cry, they get scared, they get chased by a train while crossing a bridge, they…
Well, other than the search for a body and the train, let me just say that their reminded me a lot of my own childhood pow-wows with my best friends.
The story is interspersed with modern-day events from Gordie, who is looking back, but also narrating what became of his friends.
It’s a great book, even without Kiefer Sutherland, who played a great hoodlum in the movie. And if you’re looking for another great book of horror novellas, King’s latest, Full Dark, No Stars, is wonderful. That link will take you to my review.