It’s not easy to talk about nostalgia, despite what an important role it plays in our life. This is something that Burch is earnest about in this part analysis, part memoir of Stephen King’s The Body, which was the basis for the movie Stand By Me. Those who are unfamiliar with Burch may know him for his collection of fiction, Backswing and one of the founders and editors of Hobart magazine.
In this book, Burch immediately and convincingly introduces why The Body and Stand By Me were so important to him growing up. He uses the examples of him teaching the text to his class, as well as the difficult to define moments of when people truly come of age, as an example of how important it is, yet difficult to pin down. For Burch, this time of coming of age may have been when he saw a coming of age movie. It’s hugely personal, and it’s in these moments that the book is at it’s most enjoyable – when Burch is analysing himself as well as the text, with no barriers up, as if his life is printed on the page and he is combing through it.
For Burch, this is a chance to illustrate what it felt like growing up. The Bookmarked series is a collection of books that show the significance certain books had on their authors, and there’s no doubt that King’s work was fundamental to Burch’s development, albeit it often felt like Stand By Me was the true catalyst, and Burch was writing about The Body to be able to talk about the movie adaptation. Furthermore, the book benefits from not necessarily being a standard narrative, and Burch includes extracts from previous writings that feature references to his beloved story, yet these often feel shoehorned in, as if there to hit a desired word count.
All in all, Burch’s book on The Body and Stand By Me is an enjoyable read. It’s self-aware, and he does spill some home truths, admitting how difficult it is to do so, and the book is much stronger as a result of him being personal with it. This may be Burch’s biggest achievement with the book, that he managed to illustrate his own coming of age. Thus, by doing so, he laid down the foundation for others to realise the significant moment for them, too.
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