11/22/63

November 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm (Book Commentary, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I just finished Stephen King’s latest novel. It was intriguing. I found it hard to put down. I read it over three nights which was barely doable – Uncle Stevie writes long and this book clocks in at over 840 pages.

I’ve been reading Stephen King since his first novel, Carrie, came out. I read Carrie, oddly enough, the year it came out. I’ve read everything since (the Bachman books, the Dark Tower series, both versions of The Stand, the Entertainment Weekly columns, the short story collections – every obscure item, both fiction & non-fiction that I could find). Though I’m sure I’ve missed some since it’s only been lately that everything is available to anyone (via the web, for instance).

I don’t read Uncle Stevie’s books because they make me think. I read his books for the nostalgic pop culture, the inevitable links between stories and the interesting “what if” streams of consciousness they provoke. His world is my world; he’s only ten years older than my older sister and we grew up in the same sociological conditions.

I don’t find his books scary. What I usually skip over is his all too real gory descriptions. I’ve never slept with the lights on after reading a Stephen King book, not like I did after Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle; I don’t read a King book just before bed because of the gore.

11/22/63.

It is assumed that all of us know what this date signifies. I tested out this theory yesterday, at my Toastmasters meeting, and only one person guessed close – he said the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. But than again, we are Canadian and not American.

11/22/63.

Am I giving too much away by telling you that this is the day JFK died in Dallas, was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald (presumably).

11/22/63 is a science fiction, time travel novel.

It asks – what if JFK did not die in Dallas? What if we could go back in time and change the past? What happens to our present/future then?

Jake Epping, an English teacher in a Maine High School is moved by an essay written by one of his GED students, Harry Dunning, the High School janitor and this action leads to the finding of a place that links to a certain summer’s day in 1958 and an old friend who is determined to stop the JFK assassination but can not continue.

This past has a reset button. This past can be altered without, it is at first assumed, irrevocably altering the present reality.

Read the book to learn what watershed moments involve Jake and the janitor’s father; watch Jake learn how to live in the past; uncover who Sadie and the general are; see what happens on 11/22/63 and learn the importance of the Green Card Man.

I have always been intrigued by time travel. My favourite Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes are the ones in which our main characters travel back into history. This novel felt very Whovian.

I’m not a big fan of politics. I could count the number of political novels I’ve read using just my fingers. However, 11/22/63 was a perfect mixture of political, sociological, and pop culture history. Reading this book made me want to read more about Oswald and JFK.

Plus, I found King’s version of an alternative political history in which Maine becomes a province of Canada, to be plausible. I loved reading the afterword which put the historical facts in context for me. You know but can’t necessarily tell, reading the book, how much work went into researching this novel.

Now, for the fun bits.

Look closely for references to It and the small town of Derry Maine. I knew right away what was going on here and that made me feel very smart. I love it when Uncle Stevie references one book/story inside another.

I was the first to read my library’s copy of 11/22/63. It was a crisp, new hardcover and seeing as the majority of books I read are library copies, I seldom get to crack the spine of a new book. It makes me feel rich. Heaven knows I could never afford to buy all the books I read and so I daily Thank the Stars for libraries.

Finally, 11/22/63 is dedicated to Zelda, King’s granddaughter, but was supposed to be dedicated to my favourite time travel author, Jack Finney. Kudos to both of them and Uncle Stevie – enjoy being a grandpa. I think you’ll like it.

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7 Comments

  1. Stubblejumpin' Gal (Kate) said,

    Who ARE these people who CAN afford to buy books?
    Like you, I thank my lucky stars for the library.

  2. mysticaldodo said,

    You’re lucky to have access to a library.

    The one closest to me is a city away, and the books available are rarely up to date.

  3. Cheryl said,

    I am not a fan of Stephen King, much too wordy. I prefer a different writing style. And the cross references are lost on me since I have not read most of his books. I also am not a big fan of horror. But I do like scifi time travel/alternate reality novels. So I started this book. I quickly switched to the CDs. I have a vision problem and I hate to give so much of my limited resource to one King book. Thank you for libraries that carry CDs of books. And the people who record them. I have not finished listening, but it is interesting so I probably will. I have a daily commute of almost an hour.

  4. Charles said,

    Cool blog! I was curious as to who Zelda was & Google sent me here. I still have a hundred or so pages to go on 11/22/63 & am curious to know if there is a significance to the Sept. 9, 1958(@11:58am) date. Any ideas?

    Thanks

  5. Life In Camelot said,

    Thanks for liking my recent post, Travel theme: Poetry. I have never read a great deal of Stephen King, but I used to read James Herbert novels and scare myself stupid, especially when I was coming home from night shifts… I have always been fascinated by the multiple theories surrounding the death of JFK so I look forward to reading 11/22/63.

  6. munchkinontheroad said,

    Stephen King fan, too. Looking forward to reading his latest novel. Also, enjoyed the nostalgic trip over your favorites…until, gulp, you mentioned “IT”…that story and those clowns still freak me out:)

    • solitaryspinster said,

      I’m looking forward to the re-filming of It but think Tim Curry made a scarier clown.

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