Here we have another Stephen King story overshadowed by the film adaptation, in this case the 1986 classic Stand by Me. (Side note: you may have noticed by now that I’ve been making my way through the novella collection Different Seasons, which in addition to the three novellas I’ve reviewed so far has a fourth entry which I think is too short to be counted as a separate book.)
Anyway, while it’s impossible not to see the movie play out as you read along, King’s writing is worth rehashing the material. Gordie’s narration is much more prevalent than it is in the movie and there are more digressions to his present-day life. The Body contains two stories supposedly written by Gordie, only one of which (the famous pie-eating contest) made it to the screen. The other story is amateurish noir-type story about a young man with a compliant girlfriend, a dead brother, and a bitch of a stepmother. The real fun is seeing King write a mediocre story intentionally. That has to be a difficult thing to do.
Because the reader spends so much time in Gordie’s head, the story’s themes of friendship and the loss of it resonate more deeply than in the film. Gordie’s best friend Chris offers some perhaps unrealistically insightful comments about what the future has in store for the foursome. With wisdom beyond his years he informs Gordie of what’s going to happen to them as they grow up and inevitably drift apart.
This is a book that will cause anyone who reads it to reflect back on their own childhood and the friends they had and subsequently lost, whether or not they’ve had an experience as traumatic as finding a dead body in the woods.