The Reflection, Hearts in Atlantis

Reading Stephen King’s book Hearts in Atlantis is like being thrown into a particular, more intimate America

from Ettore Sannino

A well-known story, which at the time caused a lot of sensation: a generation of young Americans thrown to die in Vietnam (Atlantis) because of a card game (Hearts / Hearts) made famous in the world through Microsoft which for a long time included it in pre-installed Windows applications.

From this story it originates Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King, a book halfway between the novel and the long / short story, with five stories held together by a couple of common denominators.

The first is that in each story there is always the same protagonist.

The other common denominator is the epoch, indeed an entire epoch, during which the various events develop.

Talking about it now may seem anachronistic, but in reality exhuming an old book that talks about national values ​​is not entirely illogical right now.

Reading it is like being projected, with a special time machine, into a particular, more intimate America, the one advertised as an American model.

An America that tells the life of the province in a time span between the early sixties and the mid-nineties, in which people live far from what it was, was, is and will be the American dream.

We fight every day with poverty, not that of homeless people, homeless people, but that of the average American family, forced to get by to face everyday life, where almost everything is a luxury, where dignity is bartered for a few dollars, where anger is so deeply rooted that it sometimes explodes for free, as a free outlet to frustration.

And while in the first long story, that of the short men in yellow raincoats, we get a taste of what will later become King as the narrator of the supernatural, of the paradox, of the unbelievable, in the second long story – which gives the book its name, Hearts in Atlantis precisely – the narrative is concrete, lucid, crude, true beyond any reasonable doubt.

The horror of Vietnam, the madness of a war wanted by some, but not wanted or understood by the multitude, opens the doors to the first real season of protest, mainly youth, as the middle class hides behind the silence when it does not share and behind the refusal and denial, when he sees in the Vietnam war the display of American pride, of the symbolic Grizzly, the indomitable bear.

And alongside the first street demonstrations, the first repressions of the police, the movement of the Hippies, the pacifists, flower children, begins to be born and at the same time we begin to witness a greater liberalization of customs, in a bigoted and puritanical America.

The other three short stories are the logical consequence of the first two and bring the stories to a conclusion, in a sort of unnecessary necessity and at times a little boring, which however does not detract from the beauty of the book.

Ettore Sannino, born in Naples, lived in Portici, currently lives in Caserta. Neurochirugo, operates in the hospital. Passionate reader and fruitful writer, in 2022 he published his debut book, “A possible sense of life, Graus Edizioni. one of short stories.

He says about himself: Raised a scientist in a family of humanists, my grandfather who was a sculptor and painter said that I was unable even to make the letter “o” with a glass and regretted it.

But even if I do not share his talent with brush and chisel together with his name, my passion is equally artistic: writing, and has accompanied me since high school, when any topic in the classroom was for me an opportunity for a story, the incipit of a story. So here I am, as I am, coming from nowhere, ready to return to nothing and hoping to be nothing more than someone who likes to write

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The Reflection, Hearts in Atlantis