'Although it's difficult to believe, the sixties are not fictional; they actually happened' (Author's Afterword)
Stephen King, whose first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974, the year before the last US 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 is composed of five linked stories set in the years from 1960 to 1999. Each story is deeply rooted in the sixties, and each is haunted by the Vietnam War.
Full of danger, full of suspense, most of all full of heart, Hearts in Atlantis will take some readers to a place they have never been...and others to a place they have never been able to completely leave.
This collection of five thematically linked short stories dwells on the legacy of the 1960s. They share a collective moodiness, a feeling of depressed hangover coming after youth has been lost and the nation has suffered troubled times. Read aloud, this pungent atmosphere is especially strong. A-list actor Hurt stylishly performs the lengthy opener, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," in which 11-year-old Bobby Garfield falls under the spell of an older man his mother has taken in as a boarder (a father figure who introduces him first to literature--Lord of the Flies--then to supernatural phenomena). Hurt skillfully evokes pathos from the story's fine detailing: its sense of small-town place and Bobby's child's-eye-view of the evil characters around him. King reads the title story, "Hearts in Atlantis," about Maine college students who mindlessly play cards instead of studying while the Vietnam War rages in the background. The author's modest, reedy voice rings with autobiographical truth--as the protagonist is a young would-be writer, na ve to the ways of the world. Taken together, at 21 hours' listening, however, King's shining moments too often give way to fatigue: the stories are repetitious, full of plot rehashings and meaningless asides. Also available on CD. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover.