Stephen King once again joins with Stewart O’Nan. Much like “Faithful”, this book centers around baseball; but where the prior was a non-fiction retrospective, this is a straight work of fiction.
The story is pretty straight forward as it centers around a lonely man who suddenly sees the ghosts of people he had wronged in the past sitting in a specific seat during baseball games. It leads to a lot of introspection on the part of the main character. You’d think that it would make for a not so gripping read, considering the guy spends a majority of the story alone in his apartment watching television, but it works and it does give you enough insight to give him something of an arc.
While ghosts do play a part, the story isn’t “scary” per se. Their presence is usually just a means of allowing the character to look back on some transgression. The only part where I felt genuinely creeped out is when he sees his wife in the stands, and she proceeds to call him on a cell phone. It’s an oddly humorous moment as he is, for obvious reasons, reluctant to pick up, but the image in the stands keeps gesturing for him to pick up.
This call also makes for one of the more poignant moments as she rips into him. You can tell that this hurt him more than the other ghosts as he points out that he genuinely loved her and really did try to do right by her and their family…for the most part. She was right to call him on the infidelity, but that just acts as a launching point for her.
The twist at the end might spark some debate. It was handled better than some of the other twists I’ve come across, but at the same time, some readers may roll their eyes when they get to that point. There’s a very specific reference that I want to make, but by doing so, I would pretty much spoil it. Though, when you read it, it will be the first thing that pops into your head as well.
It’s a pretty short work. You can get through it in about an hour. Oddly enough, I had only hit the halfway point in the e-book by the time the story wrapped up. The second half contained previews of other works. Now, with King having two books scheduled to come out next year, you’d think that these would be the two works previewed. You would be wrong. Instead, it gives us excerpts from “The Talisman” and “Black House”. They do explain that these works are getting new hardcover and paperback releases, but I still found it odd for them to do that. Honestly, I would’ve rather just had the story at a lower cost without having to click through all of that, but that’s just me. It’s a minor inconvenience at best, so it’s nothing worth getting too worked up over.
The story may not be anything mind blowing, but it’s a decent read. It’s paced well and it does a good job of fleshing out the character. It is inexpensive so you definitely get your money’s worth. If you’re looking for a way to pass the time on some lazy afternoon, this might suit your needs just fine.