Hearts in Atlantis
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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.
up that hill,” she said. “I always wanted to tell him how much I loved him for that, and how much I loved him for show- ing Harry Doolin that there’s a price to pay for hurting people, espe- cially people who are smaller than you and don’t mean you any harm.” “So you marched.” “I marched. I wanted to tell someone why. I wanted to tell some- one who’d understand. My father won’t and my mother can’t. Her friend Rionda called me and said . . .” She didn’t finish, only sat there on the
the nature of his disability? It can make a difference in how we treat him.” I thought of the scars I’d seen, those tangles of knotted string, but said nothing. I didn’t really know anything. And now that the uncontrollable urge to laugh had passed, I felt too ashamed of myself 376 HEARTS IN ATLANTIS to speak up. “It’s just one of those cripple things, isn’t it?” Ronnie asked. Actu- ally faced with an adult, he had lost his shrill cockiness. He sounded unsure, perhaps even uneasy.
they deliver everyplace else. “God bless you, man,” a guy in a cashmere overcoat says, and his voice trembles with surprising emotion. Except Blind Willie Garfield isn’t surprised. He’s heard it all, he reckons, and a bit more. A sur- prising number of his customers put their money carefully and rever- ently in the pocket of the baseball glove. The guy in the cashmere 432 HEARTS IN ATLANTIS coat drops his contribution into the open case, however, where it properly belongs. A five. The
Willie and Bill Shearman some- times see on the street. There is a map of Vietnam on the back, usu- ally the years the wearer of the jacket spent there, and this message: WHEN I DIE I’M GOING STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN, BECAUSE I SPENTMY TIME IN HELL. He could mention this sentiment to Officer Wheelock, but it would do no good. Silence is better. Wheelock walks away, and Willie’s thought—that he’s glad to see 440 HEARTS IN ATLANTIS him go—causes a rare smile to touch his face. It comes and goes
paper—deckle-edged—and another, smaller, envelope. Bobby read Carol’s note, the last he ever received from her, quickly. Dear Bobby, How are you. I am fine. You got something from your old friend, the one who fixed my arm that time. It came to me because I guess he didn’t know where you were. He put a note in asking me to send it along. So I am. Say hi to your mom. No news of her adventures in twirling. No news of how she was doing with math. No news of boyfriends, either, but Bobby