11/22/63: A Novel Info

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One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book
Review

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now
a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco


ON NOVEMBER 22,
1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE
WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this
brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed
the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more
imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers
on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering
it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English
teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED
classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their
lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story
about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s
father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with
a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his
life—like Harry’s, like America’s in
1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the
local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a
particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission
that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy
assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George
Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American
cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little
city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct),
to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls
dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a
troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past
becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be
history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so
terrifying.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for 11/22/63: A Novel:

5

Nov 11, 2011

Thank you, Steve. You were wrong all those years ago when you said you weren't very good at writing about love and intimacy. The love story here is full of honesty and tenderness. When I got to the last couple of pages, I was crying so hard I couldn't read.

11/22/63 is a supernatural, quasi-historical, philosophical, science-fiction love story.
If you're avoiding it because you think Stephen King only writes horror, please reconsider. There's no horror here, aside from a couple of mild gross-out Thank you, Steve. You were wrong all those years ago when you said you weren't very good at writing about love and intimacy. The love story here is full of honesty and tenderness. When I got to the last couple of pages, I was crying so hard I couldn't read.

11/22/63 is a supernatural, quasi-historical, philosophical, science-fiction love story.
If you're avoiding it because you think Stephen King only writes horror, please reconsider. There's no horror here, aside from a couple of mild gross-out scenes.

I know my experience would have been cheapened by knowing too much beforehand, so I'm not going to tell you what it's about in the style of a traditional book review. Be it on someone else's head to spoil your fun.

So why should you read it?

*There is DANCING!

*There is time travel -- Stephen King-style, with some original twists on the old device.

*There is a special treat for fans of It, King's novel about Pennywise the Clown.

*There is a charming (yet brutally honest) portrayal of American life in the late 50s and early 60s.

*There is DANCING!

*There is pie-throwing!

*There is sweet romance without sappiness.

*There is poundcake!

*There is derring-do! (With poundcake for afters.)

*There is insight into Lee Harvey Oswald and his associates, and their activities prior to 11/22/63.

*There is DANCING!

*There is a subtle but amazing use of "the past" as a character with an agenda of its own.

*There is snappy dialogue laced with humor.

*There is high school theater.

*And there is DANCING! Because dancing is life.

Thanks again, Steve. There's always room for you on my dance card.





...more
5

Dec 03, 2011

Go ahead, book snobs. Proclaim haughtily that Stephen King is not Literature. I shall retort with a Pratchett quote, "Susan hated Literature. She'd much prefer to read a good book." And nobody argues with Sir Terry.


(Since 'a picture is worth a thousand words', the above is a three-thousand-words summary of this book. Impressive, no? And also - dancing is life.)

As you probably guessed from the not-too-spoiler-sensitive title, 11/22/63 is a book about time travel. My love for it is an exception Go ahead, book snobs. Proclaim haughtily that Stephen King is not Literature. I shall retort with a Pratchett quote, "Susan hated Literature. She'd much prefer to read a good book." And nobody argues with Sir Terry.


(Since 'a picture is worth a thousand words', the above is a three-thousand-words summary of this book. Impressive, no? And also - dancing is life.)

As you probably guessed from the not-too-spoiler-sensitive title, 11/22/63 is a book about time travel. My love for it is an exception rather than a rule - you see, I am not usually a fan of the Grandfather paradox. Speaking of which: “Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?"
He stared at me, baffled. "Why the fuck would you do that?” As the title proceeds to shamelessly tells us, the book deals with the assassination of John F. Kennedy (and if the title fails to convey the message, then hopefully you - like yours truly - have Google-pedia'd it. Hey, don't judge, I was born in Eastern Europe). Anyway, it's another of Stephen King's 'what if?' situations. What if you could go through a 'rabbit-hole' to the past? Would you try to change history for the better, would you try to right the wrongs? Well, who wouldn't??? And so Jake Epping, an English teacher, sets out to spend half a decade in the past to prevent the assassination of JFK (and to figure out whether Lee Harvey Oswald was indeed the lone gunman that day, despite all the conspiracy theories). "As I flipped to the back, I kept seeing that double take. And the grin. A sense of humor; a sense of the absurd. The man in the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository had neither. Oswald had proved it time and again, and such a man had no business changing history."
** What if their lives had never intersected?** “Even people capable of living in the past don't really know what the future holds.” The question is - what would have happened had JFK survived the assassination that day in Dallas? Would we still have Vietnam War, race riots, and Martin Luther King's death? Could the lives of many innocent people be spared? Could JFK lead the country into a better future? Jake believes so. But what if the past resists the change? What is the price of changing the past? "The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle’s shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless." This book again dispels the long-believed but mistaken axiom that Stephen King is a "horror writer" - of a spook and startle variety. No, in the traditional sense he is not. He knows that the true monsters are those that live inside every one of us (and, ahem, occasionally in Derry, Maine). He has created his own brand of psychological suspense - with the brilliant and scary insight into the minds of average everyday people (who all have some darkness inside them and a skeleton or two in the closet - sometimes quite literally) superimposed onto the masterful description of small towns themselves (eerily resembling sentient living creatures, determined to hold on to their dark secrets). (*) And we get plenty of these in this book, as Jake's quest to prevent that fateful shot in November in Dallas takes him along the way to the small towns of Derry, Maine and Jodie, Texas. * I have an irrational fear of living in a small town, thanks to Stephen King. What if it turns out to be another Derry or Castle Rock?! *shudder*

(By the way, this trip to the past gives plenty of deeeeee-licious 'Easter Eggs' to King's Constant Readers. We see little echoes from Pennywise the Clown era in Derry, meet our favorite 1958 Plymouth Fury ( Hellllloooo there, Christine! ), and even get a nod to A Wizard and Glass with Takuro Spirit). “On that gray street, with the smell of industrial smokes in the air and the afternoon bleeding away to evening, downtown Derry looked only marginally more charming than a dead hooker in a church pew.” Derry of 1958 (right after the terrifying events of IT) is particularly repulsive and sinister. It's a small wonder Jake is able to continue his quest after starting in such an ominous place. But even there King manages to include some unexpected beauty - just remember Richie and Bevvy dancing.

And the reverse applies to the idyllic town of Jodie in which Jake is finally able to feel that he actually LIVES in the past. Deep down under the beauty and quaintness lies the ugly little reality. And the same remains true for the Land of Ago, the glorious past of absent airport security, no cholesterol warnings, and everyone happily puffing their way to lung cancers. The 1950s-60s are described with sweetness and nostalgia, but King never hesitates to bluntly remind the reader that the past has teeth and it's not afraid to bite.



King is an excellent writer and an amazing storyteller. His writing is effortless and natural, the characterization is apt and memorable, and the dialogue superb and real-sounding. I truly felt for Jake during each step of his journey. I loved how Oswald was described as not a villain or a nutcase but a flawed broken little man who stumbled into the middle of events that changed history. The other characters - Sadie, Deke, Ellie, Frank Dunning - were so well-written that I could feel them come to life (which actually can be a scary statement when the world of sai King is concerned). The story, despite its sizable length, was flowing along and never lost my attention. And his slow build-up of the sense of suspense and doom - think The Yellow Card Man (*) and jimla and the 'harmonizing past' - was just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the book.
-------------------------------------------------

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Pardon me for using this moth-eaten cliche, but Stephen King is like good wine - his writing gets better and better as he ages. Some may consider The Stand his masterpiece (to his dismay - who wants to think he's already reached the peak of his writing career three decades ago???), but I think this book may be it. "Is there any phrase more ominous than you need to see exactly what you’ve done? I couldn’t think of one offhand." -----------------------------
5 stars without hesitation for this excellent impossible-to-put-down book. Sai King, I will continue to be your Constant Reader for hopefully many more years to come, Capital-L Literature or not. "If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples." ...more
4

Jun 22, 2011

Look at the amount of pages in this book.
Look at the amount of pages in Under The Dome.
Check the date this book is published.
Check the date Under The Dome was published.

*eyetwitch*



Real.

Utterly compelling. King outlines a clear end goal, and the novel benefits enormously as the journey to that destination unfolds. A constant suspense and wonder as the reader considers when- and how- we'll get to that fateful titular date, not to mention what will happen when we get there, and once we leave Look at the amount of pages in this book.
Look at the amount of pages in Under The Dome.
Check the date this book is published.
Check the date Under The Dome was published.

*eyetwitch*



Real.

Utterly compelling. King outlines a clear end goal, and the novel benefits enormously as the journey to that destination unfolds. A constant suspense and wonder as the reader considers when- and how- we'll get to that fateful titular date, not to mention what will happen when we get there, and once we leave it behind. Part drama, part historical-fiction, part romance. King has stated the book's idea came to him in 1971, yet at the time didn't have enough confidence in his skill or ability to properly pull something like this off. Well, the wait was worth it. Truly masterful.
...more
4

Sep 30, 2013

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”

I still fail to understand why Stephen King isn't considered a writer of "respected literature". Because he writes sci-fi and horror? Because his books are so compelling, entertaining and popular? For me, King does what very few authors manage - he turns fast-paced genre fiction into well-written, thought-provoking literature.

And 11/22/63 is no exception. I've been putting this book off for the last few years; partly because it's an “We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”

I still fail to understand why Stephen King isn't considered a writer of "respected literature". Because he writes sci-fi and horror? Because his books are so compelling, entertaining and popular? For me, King does what very few authors manage - he turns fast-paced genre fiction into well-written, thought-provoking literature.

And 11/22/63 is no exception. I've been putting this book off for the last few years; partly because it's an 800+ page giant, and partly because I studied the hell out of Kennedy and 1950s/60s America back in high school. But I find myself once again in that situation where I read a book I always meant to read and mentally kick myself for not giving in sooner.

This book is fantastic. Some of its critics don't like the crossover of many genres, claiming it "wanders from genre to genre". However, I loved how this book was many things. It's an extremely well-researched piece of historical fiction; it's a fascinating look at time travel science fiction (is it possible to change the past? What is the cost of doing so?); it's a small town thriller; and it's a love story.

King has this strange way of turning the most fantastical plots into stories about people who feel very real. He writes detailed and honest character portraits, so that these characters become so vivid and realistic, likable and flawed, that we so easily believe in everything that happens to them.

If you don't already know, this book is about a man called Jake Epping who - through his friend, Al - discovers a portal that takes him to 1958, where he takes over Al's obsessive mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination. He establishes a new life in the past, in a world filled with big American cars, rock'n'roll, and shameless racism, sexism and homophobia.

The amount of research King did is evident. He paints an intricate portrait of this time - simultaneously portraying an exciting, dreamy era full of different fashions, music, and the best root beer ever for 10 cents... and showing the darker side: segregation and the two doors and three signs - "Men" on one door, "Women" on the other door, and "Colored" leading to a plank of wood over a small stream. He makes this era seem like a bright, amazing, creepy nightmare.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike some of King's other works, the 800 pages didn't feel like too much to me and they just seemed to fly by. So glad I finally read it.

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5

Mar 01, 2012

You may ask yourself how in the world did a wife beating, mental degenerate, and multiple country defecting (USA, RUSSIA and an attempt at Cuba) little shit like this



kill the charismatic, handsome war hero, and most powerful man in the world.



It doesn't make any sense. It never has made any sense. Oswald just does not fit the profile for a guy that could pull off an assassination of this magnitude. He's a semi-educated hillbilly, but he's surprisingly crafty."

Kennedy provided a golden You may ask yourself how in the world did a wife beating, mental degenerate, and multiple country defecting (USA, RUSSIA and an attempt at Cuba) little shit like this



kill the charismatic, handsome war hero, and most powerful man in the world.



It doesn't make any sense. It never has made any sense. Oswald just does not fit the profile for a guy that could pull off an assassination of this magnitude. He's a semi-educated hillbilly, but he's surprisingly crafty."

Kennedy provided a golden opportunity to every disgruntled crazy out there by deciding to ride in an open car through the hostile city of Dallas, Texas. His swoon-inspiring smile, his wavy hair, and his beautiful wife would not win him votes hidden behind bullet proof glass. A tough election was coming up and Texas was again critical for the Kennedy/Johnson ticket. The parade route was even published in the paper. When Lee Harvey Oswald noticed that the route passed right by the Texas School Book Depository, his place of work, he felt the universe was talking to him. A president riding in an open car sounds insane, but the reality is that a president had not been assassinated since McKinley in 1901. I could see how Kennedy, weighing the risk, would have felt reasonably safe. We all know how that turned out.

Jake Epping, an unassuming English teacher, is given an opportunity to go back in time. The time portal, located in the back room of a greasy spoon, will take him back to 1958. A year tantalizingly close to one of the most traumatic events in American history. Jake, now George Amberson, just had to lay low and wait for 1963 to roll around and use that time to come up with a plan to stop the before mentioned Lee Harvey Oswald. King explores the well traveled road of the potential devastating effects of changing the past to influence the future. What if Kennedy had not been killed? My liberal leanings would have me believe that the world would be better today. There are piles of documentation showing that Kennedy had no intention of escalating the war in Vietnam. As he proved with The Cuban Missile Crisis, he was a man that understood the bluff without committing the hardware. He was a man that had been to war, and I find it hard to believe he would have committed American kids to die in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

One of Stephen King's strengths is that despite the fact that he is wealthy man and one of the most successful writers in the world, he really understands common everyday people. I found myself developing a real fondness for Jake. I winced when he failed. I whooped when things went well. His romance with Sadie is spun out so nicely that the Kennedy assassination almost becomes a back ground plot.

King placed a Japanese proverb at the front of the book and also used it so wonderfully in the plot. Every time I read it I find a smile on my face.

"If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples."

The number on the back page does say 849 pages, but King's writing style makes reading this book effortless. The margins are wide and the print large, so don't let the size of the book keep you from reading this charming book.

I'm off to turn my time travel machine, nearly finished, back into something a little less dangerous to the world like a cappuccino machine.

See more of my writing at http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
You can like my blog page on Facebook here. JeffreyKeeten Blog page ...more
3

Dec 21, 2011

Hi, my name is Jake Epping and I’m a dull high school English teacher who has decided to go back in time to prevent JFK from being assassinated. I’ve decided to do this primarily because a fat man who serves me 53 year-old cheeseburgers (with whom I share only a vague casual acquaintance) has told me that I should. There is no other real reason for me to being doing this. There really isn’t. Once I’m there, I will also risk my life to save a bunch of other people that I barely know because I Hi, my name is Jake Epping and I’m a dull high school English teacher who has decided to go back in time to prevent JFK from being assassinated. I’ve decided to do this primarily because a fat man who serves me 53 year-old cheeseburgers (with whom I share only a vague casual acquaintance) has told me that I should. There is no other real reason for me to being doing this. There really isn’t. Once I’m there, I will also risk my life to save a bunch of other people that I barely know because I want to demonstrate how amazingly selfless I am. It is important to me that I am well-liked. I will fuck up several times, but that is no problem because I have no life and therefore I will simply go back in time again and repeat the experience until I get things right. At some point along the way, I will fall in love with an 80 year-old woman. But don’t worry!—when I go back in time, she’s 27. So that’s no problem, either.

Anyway, once I (view spoiler)[save JFK and am thanked with a lifetime supply of beer, I will finally return to the present. But oh no!—saving JFK has caused massive earthquakes (WHAAA???) and now the entire country is a complete nuclear wasteland!! And yet even though there is no plausible reason whatsoever for this to be the case (hide spoiler)], I will nonetheless accept it as true and simply go back a-fucking-GAIN just to undo what I spent 800 pages doing.

And that is my story.

Except actually it isn’t. Now that I’ve returned more or less permanently to the back-to-normal present, I have decided to hunt down my former lover like the psychopath that I am and dance with her one last time. In my head, it’s oh-so-sweet and will bring a tear to your eye. But in your sane reality, it will probably have the effect of making you want to vomit—cuz she’s EIGHTY. It’s like that scene in Ghost where Sam uses Oda Mae’s body to put the moves on Molly. We get that it’s Patrick Swayze in spirit, but somehow we can’t let go of the knowledge that it’s actually Whoopi Goldberg who’s feeling up Demi Moore. ...more
5

Nov 04, 2019

Even though 11/22/63 has been swirling inside my brain for a little over a week now, I haven't had the chance to properly sit down and write out a coherent review. Life is busy, and yet I cannot shake the feeling of pleasure I received from reading this book. It is a masterpiece, no doubt, but also the type of story that is suited to King's old style of dialogue and flair for throwback culture. Dare I suggest that this book is the author's unicorn? Clearly he is immensely talented, and a good Even though 11/22/63 has been swirling inside my brain for a little over a week now, I haven't had the chance to properly sit down and write out a coherent review. Life is busy, and yet I cannot shake the feeling of pleasure I received from reading this book. It is a masterpiece, no doubt, but also the type of story that is suited to King's old style of dialogue and flair for throwback culture. Dare I suggest that this book is the author's unicorn? Clearly he is immensely talented, and a good number of his other works are amongst my favorite novels of all time, but there is something unique to this historical time-traveling fiction that keeps blinking in my peripheral, almost like a jealous lover, keeping me from fully enjoying any book that I have picked up since finishing this one. Maybe writing this review will give me a sense of release, or perhaps I'll gear up the old audible and dive in for a reread. In the meantime, let me try to put into words what most of you have already said, since I'm the last person on planet earth to read 11/22/63.

If I'm wrong about the above statement and you haven't read this yet, all you really need to know going in is that an ordinary teacher from "present day" time travels back to the late 50's in preparation to attempt to prevent JFK's assassination. However, even that above statement is deceitful, because that's literally all I knew about this book going in, and it is SO much more. In fact, the JFK stuff doesn't really kick in until the last 35% of the book, but please don't take that as a criticism. The way that Stephen King chooses to prepare us and lead us up to that moment is nothing short of brilliant; the process in getting to that fateful day is just as suspenseful, intriguing, and emotional as the climax.

As unbelievable as it sounds, King has written one of the most tender, intimate, and swoon-worthy romances of all time between these pages. There are heaps of action, suspense, and easter eggs planted for fans who have read other books by the author (visiting Derry right after the first summer that the Losers Club experienced Pennywise was unreal). If you're an audiobook lover, I highly suggest listening to this book, or at least supplementing your hardcopy with it. I would love to see King write something similar to this in the coming years, but even if he chooses not to, I'll cherish this experience, and every reread after, as one of the most compelling stories ever written in our contemporary age. ...more
5

Nov 08, 2011


I'll be honest here. It's really rare that I get through a book over 500 pages, let alone 700 (Nook pages). It's also true that I have never read a single thing from Mr. King until now. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe his books intimidated me, because when I was younger everyone was always talking to me about how his books were so long, and blah blah. Anyway, I am proud to say that 11/22/63 was my first book read by Stephen King. I hear it's so much different than his other work, but I also haven't met
I'll be honest here. It's really rare that I get through a book over 500 pages, let alone 700 (Nook pages). It's also true that I have never read a single thing from Mr. King until now. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe his books intimidated me, because when I was younger everyone was always talking to me about how his books were so long, and blah blah. Anyway, I am proud to say that 11/22/63 was my first book read by Stephen King. I hear it's so much different than his other work, but I also haven't met a single person that didn't love it. I read this book because everybody and their brother was recommending it to me as a "must read". I'm also not a big historical fiction fan, and didn't know how much I would enjoy reading about 20 years before my birth. I had nothing to worry about.


Here is a book that you never want to end, yet you do want it to end, because you need to know what is going to happen. King introduces us to a man named Jake who insists that he is not emotionless despite the fact that he doesn't cry often. I can relate to him right off the bat. Not a big crier, but I definitely feel emotions on a huge level. Jake is sent back to 1963 with a plan made up by a guy named Al who owns a local diner, and has the "rabbit hole" which is how they travel back in time. At first his mission is just to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating JFK, but then little things pop up here and there making him consider a few new things that need to be changed. I'm not going into any more detail than that, because I don't want to give away one single thing in this brilliant novel. Fans of his story "It" may be excited to know he revisits the town of Derry, Maine, where "It" was located.


The excitement and suspense in this book were astonishing. I held my breath in anticipation of certain things Jake had to do, and then some twist would come out of left field, and I would continue reading in awe. There were also several sighs of relief and a couple of cute moments involving Jake's romance that just made me say "aww".


I do feel like there were a rough 100ish pages that dragged on somewhere in the middle, and the book may have benefited by taking out a few things, but obviously I'm no expert. That's just my opinion. Again, this may have also been just something I was feeling, because I was very impatient and really wanting to know how this book would end. Some people didn't like the ending, but I loved it!


In the afterword King discusses his research a bit. You can most definitely tell that a lot of research and thought went into this novel. The descriptions are vivid and when I say you are really transported back to the 60's I mean it. You will feel it.


11/22/63 is a truly memorable, wonderfully written book that I have already recommended to several family members and friends, and I will continue to recommend for years to come. This is another of King's books that I could see as a film, too. If you are wanting to try a Stephen King book, but don't know if you will like all the horror, read this! It is not like that at all. ...more
5

Nov 08, 2011

*sigh*... I'm so upset that it's over... You got me at the ending there, Stephen. You really, truly got me. What can I possibly say about this wonderful, beautiful book? That it's wonderful and beautiful? No. That's no where near enough praise. This book made it up to my top 3 favorites list by King (placing at #3) and is probably my favorite book of 2011 (if not tied with Shutter Island). Reading this book, I was so worried about what the ending would be (because, let's be honest here, we know *sigh*... I'm so upset that it's over... You got me at the ending there, Stephen. You really, truly got me. What can I possibly say about this wonderful, beautiful book? That it's wonderful and beautiful? No. That's no where near enough praise. This book made it up to my top 3 favorites list by King (placing at #3) and is probably my favorite book of 2011 (if not tied with Shutter Island). Reading this book, I was so worried about what the ending would be (because, let's be honest here, we know King isn't the best at handling endings... Exhibit A: Under the Dome), and I had a really strong feeling I knew what the ending would be, but that ending was just absolutely amazing... It left everything wrapped up nicely, and was one of his better endings, if not his best (or at least my favorite, even though it's not wrapped up with a pretty bow). The last chapter made me grin ear to ear, but then it left me feeling sad beyond words can describe. To be honest, after I turned the last page (or better yet, clicked, since I own a Kindle), I just sat there and bawled my eyes out, to the point where my husband got worried about me. Yeah... It was that sad. The characters in this book couldn't be better, and I really, truly mean that. I loved every single character (with the exception of Lee Harvey Oswald... Poor Marina...). I loved George/Jake's students, I loved George/Jake, I loved Sadie, I loved Miz Mimi, and much more. I also really liked the purpose of the character the Card Man, even for the very short time he was in the book (I would have liked King to expand a bit more on that, but hey, the book's almost 1000 pages), but the real star in this book was the relationship between George/Jake and Sadie. Their love for each other was undeniable and irrevocable, and just so darn beautiful. Who would have thought that the Stephen King we all know and love (at least I know and love him) could write a beautiful and touching romance alongside a thriller. That was a great shock, and I hope he incorporates this skill of weaving a good relationship into a lot more of his books to come. Being a huge King fan, I couldn't wait for this book to come out. But, in all fairness, I didn't expect to love it. I thought it would be average, maybe even "just okay", but let me tell you... I really, really loved this book.

And if you aren't a King fan, please (pretty please) don't let that stop you from reading this book. This book has absolutely no scary parts, for those of you who abstain from reading Stephen King's books because they are classified as horror, and, like I mentioned earlier on in this review, I actually cried at the end of the book (the first time that I've ever cried while reading a King novel). You can tell that Stephen King put a lot of effort into writing 11/22/63, and his details of life in the late 50's and early 60's really made me wish I was alive then. So, please, even if you don't like Stephen King, read this! It's an absolutely beautiful book, and one I wish I can read for the first time all over again.

And if you're still not convinced to read this, would it help if I told you that there's.... Poundcake? ;)

PS: You will probably want a box of tissues handy towards the end. And if you're listening to the audiobook, maybe two boxes.

For those wondering, these are my top 3 favorite King books:

#1: It
#2: The Shining
#3: (this may shock some people...) previously The Stand. Now it's 11/22/63

“If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples. I'll love your face no matter what is looks like. Because it's yours”

"The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle's shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless"

"Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life."

“For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”

and...

To listen to Stephen King read an excerpt from Dr. Sleep, click here.

PPS: Dr. Sleep is about Danny Torrance (you know, from The Shining) as an adult, and how he uses his psychic powers to help patients on death row at the hospital where he works, until a gang of vampires kidnap him... Or something like that...
...more
5

Nov 30, 2018

Another big, big King book down!

This was truly and epic tale. While I know every author has to do research to make sure that the book makes sense and doesn’t sound ridiculous, this had to be the most research King has ever had to put into a book. When discussing historical events and the potential impact of changing them (both knowing what actually happened vs conjecturing what would happen if any details were changed), you have to make sure your knowledge of all related events is strong! The Another big, big King book down!

This was truly and epic tale. While I know every author has to do research to make sure that the book makes sense and doesn’t sound ridiculous, this had to be the most research King has ever had to put into a book. When discussing historical events and the potential impact of changing them (both knowing what actually happened vs conjecturing what would happen if any details were changed), you have to make sure your knowledge of all related events is strong! The two most common themes of this book are: will the past allow itself to be changed? and the butterfly effect (one little change (flap of a butterfly wing) starting a chain reaction that leads to a landslide on the other side of the world). If you don’t have your history ducks in a row, it will be very hard to sell these themes, but King sells them very well!

I liked the extensive storytelling in this one. It almost felt like 5 different novels/storylines crammed into one. Any of them would be an interesting story by itself, but none of them truly appreciated unless combined with all of the others. I think that some may find that it is too much or that the story drags in places (with inner monologue screaming “get to the point already!”). This didn’t happen for me, but I could definitely understand it if some felt that way. A couple of times it felt like the story was starting over and I was a few hundred pages in! But, in the end I loved the whole package – quick places, slow places, exposition, character development, backstory, etc. – all of it!

Compared to other King? Well, the character development, interaction, and dialogue definitely felt like King. At places it felt like a Dark Tower spin off . . . maybe a little like The Talisman. There are direct references to some of his other novels ((view spoiler)[specifically IT and Christine (hide spoiler)]) that will make King fans feel nostalgic. But, in the end, I feel like the book is in a class all by itself that is not really like any other King book I have read before.

It is not horror. So, if you have not read King before but want to get started with classic King you have heard rumors about, don’t start here! Go back to Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, etc.

But, since it isn’t really horror, more historical fiction and alternative reality, I think that some people who have been shying away from King might greatly enjoy this. After that, you could try more King, or move on and at least be able to tell your friends, “yeah, I read a Stephen King book *accomplished grin on face*”.

I do recommend this book if you are ready for an 850 page+ adventure. Know that you might devour it, or might need to set it down and take a break from it from time to time. Either way I hope you enjoy – just know you cannot go back and change the fact that you took the time to read it . . . or, can you???
...more
5

Nov 09, 2011

I LOVED IT!

There's two main story lines:
1)The Romance story (with wonderful well developed characters)
2)Stop A major event in U.S. History (its all well plotted throughout the book)
Both mixed together in some very intelligent--satisfying ways.

Stephen King knows how to blend the supernatural with history better than your average author. (celebrates nostalgic also without being sassy about it).

I'm often not a fan of time travel fiction reading ---but Stephen King improves this type of I LOVED IT!

There's two main story lines:
1)The Romance story (with wonderful well developed characters)
2)Stop A major event in U.S. History (its all well plotted throughout the book)
Both mixed together in some very intelligent--satisfying ways.

Stephen King knows how to blend the supernatural with history better than your average author. (celebrates nostalgic also without being sassy about it).

I'm often not a fan of time travel fiction reading ---but Stephen King improves this type of storytelling by adding themes, choices, and consequences in his story. He does the butterfly effect trope creating ripples throughout time and improves on this by making time fight back, the past in 11/22/63 does not want to be changed.

"11/22/63" is easy page turning fun......
And....
At some point in your reading....
You might want to take a break and enjoy
**Pound Cake** for dessert! (this makes no sense to anyone unless you've read the book)..... :) ...more
1

Nov 12, 2011

Real spoilers are inside "spoiler" tags. Things that tell a little about the content that I would have appreciated hearing before committing to this behemoth are not. You've been warned.

This is my first Stephen King read. I'm not a horror fan, but I love a good alternate history, and I figured that a story of a man who goes back in time to stop Kennedy's assassination could be one of those. It isn't. Not the biggest hurdle, because this could still have been an enjoyable read if it had been Real spoilers are inside "spoiler" tags. Things that tell a little about the content that I would have appreciated hearing before committing to this behemoth are not. You've been warned.

This is my first Stephen King read. I'm not a horror fan, but I love a good alternate history, and I figured that a story of a man who goes back in time to stop Kennedy's assassination could be one of those. It isn't. Not the biggest hurdle, because this could still have been an enjoyable read if it had been about a man who travels back to live in a different time and gives insightful commentary on the similarities and differences between these cultures. This book wasn't that, either. It was exactly what I had (naively) been trying not to read: a horror. Your basic stabby horror, with a slight twist. In this book, the immutability of the past, its obduracy to cling to what has already been, is the thing with teeth. I know that doesn't sound traditionally horrific, but its manifestation is that when the main character is trying to do something that would result in immediately changing the outcome of a big event--such as an event in which someone originally got killed--this aspect of the past intervenes repeatedly and violently to keep him from doing it. (view spoiler)[The past sends cars hurtling toward him through red lights, or it gives him an intense migraine headache, or it sends someone after him with a gun. Or all of those, and others. So the "dramatic" parts of the story involve our hero attempting to get to his destination and, for example, having to stop for green lights while traffic barrels through in the other direction, then having to go deal with his overwhelming diarrhea, then having to talk some completely random guy out of shooting him for a nonsense reason. Then he has to deal with a topiary.

Seriously.

A major part of the climax of the novel involves him trying to run up six flights of stairs having just broken a few ribs in a car crash, while also being a few weeks out of a coma. (hide spoiler)]

Since the part where he tries to stop Kennedy's assassination doesn't happen until about 750 pages into the book, King compensates by having other characters behave in very violent ways. There's a killing of a family by sledgehammer-wielding maniac described in detail multiple times in the first 300 pages. Later on, a woman gets her cheek ripped open by a knife-wielding maniac. Multiple people kill themselves in front of our hero by slitting their throats.

The structure of the novel is as follows: guy finds out he can easily go back in time to 1958, to the same minute of the same day each time he goes. He becomes part of his friend's plot to keep Kennedy from being killed. Except the guy doesn't quite believe this whole time travel thing, so he goes back to 1958, spends about 2 months hanging out and making observations about what various companies' slogans are (always reproduced in all caps, so that it feels like they're being yelled from the page), stops a violent crime from happening close to home, and zips back to 2011 to confirm that, yes, he did change the past. He returns to 1958, re-stops that crime, and then spends the better part of five years waiting for Kennedy's assassination attempt. That's the middle of the book: him sitting around in the early 1960s, in a holding pattern, scoping out downtown Dallas and following Lee Harvey Oswald from a distance so he can convince himself that he really doesn't like this guy. It takes at least 600 pages for 1963 to arrive.

The decision of what to do to Oswald is presented as simple and binary, in a way that bugged me throughout the book. If our hero finds out that Oswald is the lone person behind the assassination, then the only course of action considered is for our guy to kill him. There's some momentary advance remorse about that, but not much, because Oswald is known to have killed Kennedy in the real timeline. The thing I still don't get is, in the real timeline, Oswald died as a direct result of having been arrested for Kennedy's murder. Which means that a person who simply kept Oswald from being present on the parade route that day (by any means necessary, gory ones included--slit the guy's arm open with a knife, for example) would save both Kennedy's life and Oswald's. No murder necessary. King doesn't even give this idea lip service--killing is presented as the only possible plan in order to get the assassination stopped.

Back to our hero. After he changes history, (view spoiler)[he finds out that human events are so important that if they get changed as significantly has he has altered them, the entire earth reacts. Human events cause geological events. By stopping Kennedy's assassination, he initiates massive earthquakes, leading to lots of deaths and eventually to nuclear meltdowns years later. All of which means that instead of King doing the thing that people tend to find intriguing when reading alternate histories--giving his answer to "what really would have happened with Vietnam and Civil Rights and all that if Kennedy hadn't been shot?"--he's got a few alternate leaders in power, sure, but he makes them deal with lots of random catastrophes in the physical world, and resulting catastrophes among populations, that didn't happen in the real timeline (hide spoiler)]. So you spend 800 pages wondering what King thinks this history would have looked like with more Kennedy in it, and...you don't get your answer.

King's writing itself is very workmanlike. He is rarely poetic or descriptive in ways that give any deeper meaning or even paint a vivid picture. This would be fine (or something on the yawn-inducing side of fine) if this were a fast, plot-driven book, but it's not. The engine of the book is the main character's time travel journey back from 2011 to 1958 and the years immediately following, but nothing that he ever says makes this feel like reality. The narrator is supposed to be 35 in 2011, which places him in my own age cohort--but I think even someone 10 or 20 years older than I am, given the time-travel option, would have a lot of strong visceral reactions to the way the world was back then. King has him comment on the fact that root beer tastes "fuller" from a 1958 soda fountain than it does in the present--but frankly, that doesn't give me much to go on, and he uses that same descriptor every time he references the root beer (an awful lot) without adding to the picture. And that's it: he does nothing else to show how the experience of drinking at a 1958 soda fountain would be different from the experience that someone born in the late 1970s would be used to at a diner in the 21st century. It's like this with so many things: either our hero doesn't seem to notice all the little differences in daily life, or he treats these with a nostalgia borrowed from the author.

The representation of his age is wrong on other levels, too--the guy says he had never used a rotary phone before traveling to 1958, even though many people from older generations (like my grandparents and anyone else who could remember the Depression) held on to their rotary phones until almost the 1990s; and yet this same guy has a thorough and in-depth understanding of how to mess with records and record players to slow down playback. His first time in 1958, our hero buys what is apparently a cool 1950s car and instantly falls in love with driving it, to the extent that he detests his Toyota Corolla with a passion when he gets back to 2011. The shift in his loyalties is instantaneous and unequivocal--no disorientation about the lack of seat belts or other now-familiar features in an older car, just a seamless love for all things vintage that feels too uncomplicated to be on-target. The cigarette smoke is another of this kind of example: our hero comments that smoke and smokers are everywhere, but then just seems able to ignore it. It rings false that a 2011 non-smoker who finds himself in a place where every restaurant and bank has people smoking in it, and where every hotel room, used car, and cab reeks of cigarettes, wouldn't have a lot more adjusting to do than just the casual shrug that the guy gives when he mentions it.

It may sound weird that, given a book that's far too long, I'd be complaining about a lack of words, but it's more that the things King chooses to say often don't contribute to the storytelling (or plotting or character development or setting) and instead are meaningless, repetitive, and make the lack of significant detail all the more conspicuous by its absence. While I was reading this book, my commuting audiobook was TC Boyle's Drop City, which is set in a hippie commune in 1970. The contrast between how Boyle gives a sense of 1970 and how King gives a sense of 1960 is vertiginous.

Now for the -isms. After about 250 pages of 1958, it struck me that King was painting an idealistic, whitewashed picture of what was a turbulent and violent time with regard to civil rights. And right then, our hero said exactly the same thing in the narrative: "in case this seems like an overly happy picture, let me tell you about this 'colored' restroom I saw outdoors in North Carolina." (I'm paraphrasing, but not by much.) He goes on to describe a rest stop in which the regular bathroom is labeled for use by whites only and the signs to the 'colored' restroom lead to something awful. Completely reasonable and valid point made right there...except that it's the only place where he describes that kind of treatment. Anytime else in the book when he wants to talk about Civil Rights or unequal treatment or any of that, he references the bathroom in North Carolina. It doesn't seem to matter that the character drives from Florida to Texas across all of the most virulently racist states in the South during a time when race-related violence was peaking, then lives in Texas for another few years. In all that time, he runs across a white man who says racist things and consequently decides he doesn't like the guy...and that's about it. This 2011 character is walking around in the South living in segregated neighborhoods, eating at segregated lunch counters (at which he always comments that the food is both good and cheap), drinking from segregated water fountains, riding buses where he gets to sit down when others have to stand in back because of their difference in skin color--and barely notices all of the casual racism entrenched in this world. I found it unreasonable that after a lifetime spent having at least some African-American friends/classmates/teachers/co-workers (yes, even in Maine), a lifetime that almost definitely included watching The Cosby Show and Men in Black and very definitely included years of having an African-American president in the White House, our hero would be able to ignore the treatment of others around him almost every moment of every day. The fact that not only doesn't he notice this around him, but also that he has to reach way back to that one restroom in North Carolina whenever he needs to talk about discrimination, comes across as casually racist.

Anti-Semitism: there are four characters in the book who are described explicitly as Jewish. One of them is Jack Ruby, a real person who apparently owned a strip club (King makes sure to point out) and who was the guy who shot Oswald in the real timeline after he was in custody. The other three are fictional, all bookies. They run pawn shops and have Mob ties and all make their money explicitly from the suffering of others. (I could mention the two female family members we are introduced to as well, but they aren't characters--the narrative states explicitly at one point that they are interchangeable. They also work in the family money businesses.) I'd like to thank Stephen King personally for perpetuating stereotypes that just need to freaking die already.

While we're at it, sexism: our hero is a guy who starts dating a woman in about 1961, and he also spends a number of years teaching high school (don't get me started on that--an English teacher from 2011 travels back 50 years and starts teaching adolescents seamlessly, without having any trouble adjusting to the loss of the most recent five decades of writing to teach from? The loss of recognized diversity in curricula? How limited a teacher is he?), and yet he never sees anything to complain about with regard to the way women are treated in that time. He comments that they're expected to wear girdles sometimes, but he compares that to guys having to wear condoms and says that guys have it worse. Otherwise, he conveys no sense in the least that girls or women might have an easier time of things in 2011 than they do in 1961.

I could say more about my dislike of this book. I could mention my frustration with the way that King writes as though he knows nothing about what the Butterfly Effect actually references for the first 800 pages--so that when he reveals that he mostly gets it, it's too little, too late. I could rant about many other aspects of the novel. Instead, I'll end by saying that there are books out there that accomplish what King is trying to do, using well-chosen words (and fewer of them), thoughtful plots, and skilled character development. For true alternate history, try Lion's Blood: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom in an Alternate America, by Steven Barnes. For a time-travel study in contrasts, try Kindred, by Octavia Butler. For an experience of recent history that feels immersive and real (1970, complete with sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll), try Drop City, by TC Boyle. ...more
4

Nov 18, 2011

Adventures in Time Mowing

Dallas, Texas
11/22/63

“Hey, you just appeared out of nowhere! How did you do that? And is that a laptop melted onto a lawn mower?”

“Yeah. See there was this lightning strike and now I can use my time mower to visit the past and …. Wait a second. If you’re from 1963, how did you know what a laptop is? Oh, shit! You’re a time traveler, too?”

“Yes, I am. What year are you from?”

“2011. My name’s Kemper.”

“No way! I’m from 2011, too. My name is George Amberson. I mean, it’s Adventures in Time Mowing

Dallas, Texas
11/22/63

“Hey, you just appeared out of nowhere! How did you do that? And is that a laptop melted onto a lawn mower?”

“Yeah. See there was this lightning strike and now I can use my time mower to visit the past and …. Wait a second. If you’re from 1963, how did you know what a laptop is? Oh, shit! You’re a time traveler, too?”

“Yes, I am. What year are you from?”

“2011. My name’s Kemper.”

“No way! I’m from 2011, too. My name is George Amberson. I mean, it’s really Jake Epping. Amberson is the alias I’m using here in the past.”

“Nice to meet you, Jake. So I assume you’re here for JFK and the …uh…event.”

“Of course. You too?”

“Yep. I thought I’d hang out by the grassy knoll, take a few pictures of the fence during the shooting and hopefully put this conspiracy bullshit to bed once and for all.”

“You’re just going to watch? I’m here to stop it.”

“Stop the JFK assassination? Oh, man. That old chestnut? Really? You‘re buying into that myth?”

“What do you mean, Kemper?”

“It’s the old baby boomer fantasy. ‘Oh, if only JFK had lived, everything would have been better. He would have gotten us out of Vietnam and the ‘60s wouldn’t have turned ugly and we’d all be living in paradise filled with puppies, unicorns and rainbows.’ Never mind that JFK was the guy who kicked off the really serious troop escalations into Vietnam and gave a wink and a nod to their army for the coup and assassination of the Diem brothers. It’s the Oliver Stone idea where JFK would have saved us from ourselves if only the Vast Conspiracy hadn’t killed him first.”

“Oh, well, I guess we did think that saving JFK would make things much better, but we don’t think there’s a big conspiracy. I’m just here to stop Oswald.”

“At least we agree on that. But are you sure you should be changing stuff in the past? That seems really dangerous and could cause all kinds of paradoxes. I just wander around and look at stuff, I don’t try to change anything. You don’t want to end up killing your own grandfather, do you? Or worse yet, accidentally become your own grandfather. Yuk!”

“It should be fine. We did a few trial runs, and everything seemed OK.”

“How did you do trial runs? In fact, how do you time travel? I don’t see a time mower around. And who is this ‘we’ you keep mentioning, Jake?”

“I’m a high school English teacher from Maine. I have a friend named Al who found a kind of portal in time. We call it the rabbit hole. Every time you go through it, you wind up at the same day in our home town in 1958. Al went through the rabbit hole over and over for years and discovered that no matter how long you stay, when you go back through the portal, only two minutes have elapsed since you left.”

“Didn’t Al end up with a bunch of versions of himself in 1958 then?”

“No, because every time you go through the portal, history resets itself like you were never there the first time.”

“Let me see if I understand this, Jake. So if your buddy Al went through the portal to 1958 and changed something like saved somebody’s life, and then he went back through to the present, the change would have been made. The person he saved was alive, but if he goes back through the portal to the past again, then everything resets to the original timeline and that person would die, unless Al saved them again, right?”

“Exactly. But there’s a few odd things like you could go back and buy something like a hat. You could wear that hat back to the present, and it’d still be there. And you could go back to the past wearing that hat which resets everything, but when you went to the store you bought it from, the same hat would still be on your head and on the shelf at the same time! Isn’t that cool? It’s how Al was able to accumulate money and a few other items and still take them back to the past when he needed.”

“That doesn’t sound….right. Jake, are you sure about this? I’m getting very nervous that you’re going to wipe me out of existence or something.”

“I told you, Kemper, we did a few trial runs where we saved people from some ugly fates and then went back to the future and everything was fine.”

“Still, you’re talking about saving a guy who is going to have a huge impact on history with no idea of how it will play out.”

“Don’t worry, Al spent a lot of time thinking about this and doing research. He worked it all out.”

“Let me guess. Al is a baby boomer, right?”

“Uh…yeah.”

“OK, so he talked you into doing this, right? He convinced you that everything would be peaches and gravy if JFK had lived, didn‘t he?”

“Uh….kind of.”

“Who is Al then? A physicist? A historian?”

“Uh…no. He owns the local diner.”

“He owns a diner?”

“You see, the time portal he found was in his pantry.”

“He’s a diner owner with a time portal in his pantry?”

“Yes.”

“If Al’s so convinced that this is the right thing to do, how come he didn’t do it himself?”

“He tried. He came through and lived here several years while he watched Oswald. That‘s why neither of us just killed him. We wanted to be absolutely sure he was acting alone, but then Al got really sick and knew he wouldn’t be able to stop Oswald. So he went back to 2011 and told me about the rabbit hole.”

“Oh, hell. I just realized that you had to live here for five years waiting for this moment. Damn, five years in the past must have sucked, Jake.”

“Actually, I’ve gotten used to it. It was hard at first because I had to go back through and fix some things we’d done on our trial runs again. You know, because of the reset. I couldn’t stand to let those bad things happen. I had to spend some time in a really nasty town in Maine called Derry.”

“Derry? I think I’ve heard of it.”

“Really? It was a very ugly place in 1958. They had some child murders.”

“Wow, that sounds really familiar for some reason.”

“Anyhow, then I spent some time in Florida and then moved to a small town in Texas. I started teaching again and built up a whole life for myself as George Amberson. I really like it here in the past now. I’m thinking about trying to stay forever.”

“But what about the segregation and the sexism and the second hand smoke and the lack of high-def television, Jake? Doesn’t that bother you?”

“A little. But they have really good root beer in this time. And stuff is really cheap! I can buy a new car for peanuts.”

“Nice to see that you don’t let a little thing like institutional racism ruin your appreciation of a good deal. Speaking of which, how did you make money? Just teaching?”

“Al gave me some and he had a sheet of sporting events I could bet on to make more. Like I made a pretty penny betting on the Dallas Texans to beat Houston the other night. It was very cool to bet on the Cowboys before they were even the Cowboys.”

“Uh…Jake, do you think the Dallas Texans became the Dallas Cowboys?”

“Sure.”

“That’s not right. The Texans were the AFL team started by Lamar Hunt. The NFL started the Cowboys in Dallas just to screw with him, and he eventually had to move the team to Kansas City and change their name to the Chiefs. The Cowboys were always the Cowboys.”

“Really? Are you sure about that, Kemper?”

“Yes, I’m goddamn sure about it, I’m from Kansas City. Jesus, you are scaring the shit out of me.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because you’re back in time screwing around doing stuff like betting football games when you have no idea what the hell you’re even really betting on. I hope to hell you know a lot more about the JFK assassination than you do about pro football.”

“Not really.”

“What??”

“I told you, I was an English teacher, not history. I don’t really know much more than what I remember from my classes in college. I’ve got Al’s notes…”

“The research done by the diner owner with the JFK obsession? That’s all you have to go on as you muck around with history, Jake? Did you at least bring some history books with you?”

“Uh…”

“Oh, you have got to be shitting me.”

“We were pressed for time, Kemper!”

“Pressed for time?? You said that Al spent years getting ready for this? And each time hop only takes you two minutes, right? You guys couldn’t have found twenty minutes to run into a damn library and check out an American history book?”

“Well, in hindsight I guess that would have been a good idea.”

“Ya think? I really wish you would have thought this through more than just doing a couple of test runs. You should have done that like twenty times. It would have taken you just forty minutes, right?”

“It’s not that simple, Kemper. You see, for one thing, the time we spent in the past is still elapsed time. I started this when I was thirty-five, and if I go back, only two minutes will have passed in 2011, but I’ll still be forty. If something goes wrong now, I’d have to go back and do all of it again from 1958 on. I don’t think I can handle that.”

“I hadn’t thought about that. I guess it’s like playing a video game with a really crappy system of save check points. The deeper you get into, the more you have to lose.”

“Exactly, but it’s not just that. You see, the past does not want to be changed. If you try to revise something, it fights back. When we did our trial runs, it threw everything it could at us from car trouble to illness, and the bigger the event, the harder it tries to stop you. So doing a bunch of trial runs just isn’t very practical, Kemper.”

“Summing up here: You’re an English teacher who was talked into trying to stop the JFK assassination via a time portal. You’ve spent years of your life doing this even though there’s clearly some very wonky elements to the resetting of the past when you go through and time itself seems to be working against you? And this seems like a good idea, Jake?”

“Please don’t yell at me, Kemper. I did this with the best of intentions. It’s been very hard living like this, and the past seems to be trying to sabotage my life here now. I’m very tired and scared, and this is all coming to a head, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen …*sob*.”

“Don’t cry. I’m sorry. It’s just…. This doesn’t seem like it was thought through very well, Jake. I mean, you seem like a nice guy. I’ll admit that it sounds like you have good intentions, but you know what the road to hell is paved with.”

“I know, I know. But I’ve come too far to stop now.”

“Yeah, I guess so. Good luck you poor bastard. Try not to break the space/time continuum.”

******************************************

Kemper’s Present Day Note About Stephen King and Kansas City Sports Errors (Or Are They?)

The error where Jake thinks about the Dallas Texans someday becoming the Dallas Cowboys is actually in the book, but since it’s a first person account and Jake is definitely not a historical expert, it’s possible that King knew this and just meant for it to be Jake’s error.*

(*Edit - Actually, I realized later on that even this doesn't make sense since the Cowboys and Texans were both formed in 1960. It was part of the rivalry between the NFL and old AFL. This was a big story in Dallas at the time and both teams did tons of promotions and advertising so it doesn't seem possible that Jake was somehow unaware of the existence of the Cowboys.)

However, this isn’t the first time King has caused me to scratch my head with KC sports references. In The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, there is another oddity when the gunslingers are in an alternate version of Topeka, Kansas, that seems to be the one where King’s The Stand took place. There, they see a car with a bumper sticker that says Kansas City Monarchs instead of Kansas City Royals and this is supposed to be evidence that they’re in an alternate world. But the old Negro Leagues baseball team that had players like Satchel Paige was called the Monarchs, and you can still purchase Monarchs merchandise in KC today. (I’ve got a spiffy Monarchs hat I got at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.)

These wouldn’t bother me so much if I thought for sure that they were just errors, but the fact that they’ve both involved a possibly unreliable narrator or hopping to alternate worlds leaves King some wiggle room that bugs me for some reason. Are they mistakes or is King just being cute? I. DON’T. KNOW.

And that makes me nuts.

Kemper’s Spoilerific Present Day Note About the Ending of 11/22/63

(view spoiler)[ You can tell from my little flight of fancy above that I’m not a big believer of the notion that JFK was some kind of awesome president who would have saved the country from Vietnam and the chaos of the ‘60s. When I heard the concept of this book, I worried that King was succumbing to a bad case of baby boomer JFKitis, and the early parts of the book seem to have confirmed this. Also, while I enjoyed the rabbit hole and reset the timeline rules, I thought the idea that you could bring objects back but they’d still exist in the reset past as a cheat and the kind of internal inconsistency that King allows in his work whenever it’s convenient to the story.

I was greatly relieved that by the end of this book, King seemed to have set aside the rose colored JFK glasses and made that oddity about the objects part of a paradox instead of just a plot contrivance. (hide spoiler)] ...more
4

Nov 19, 2013

This one should've been five stars for me. I think what happened was that I loved the concept when I read about the book and had envisioned something more. The story King wanted to write was all there and I truly enjoyed it. As always with King this is a great study in character and the evolution of the character. In this case using time as an added conflict that applies pressure on the character. King doesn't mess around with elaborate explanations on how or why the time travel works. It's just This one should've been five stars for me. I think what happened was that I loved the concept when I read about the book and had envisioned something more. The story King wanted to write was all there and I truly enjoyed it. As always with King this is a great study in character and the evolution of the character. In this case using time as an added conflict that applies pressure on the character. King doesn't mess around with elaborate explanations on how or why the time travel works. It's just a simple closet in the diner that the character steps into and we're off and running. I think this works mostly because we trust King so implicitly and that if he says it true it's true.
For me a good book caused me to think about the story even when I was not reading. In this case, while still into the book, I researched the actual incident, the assassination, to see how far King veered historically. I found the topic so interesting I fell down the rabbit doing too much historical reading.
I like the book a great deal and recommend it. ...more
5

Feb 25, 2016

Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a behemoth of a work with more layers than a Chicagoan in December. The premise in itself was exhilarating, and the execution was near flawless. Another chef-d'oeuvre from Ole’ Uncle Stevie. This one was a novel that absolutely could not have been tackled by just anyone and may have fallen flat on its face if handled by a less experienced craftsman. The worlds on both sides of the time-travel line were utterly realistic, but where King really showed his masterful hand Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a behemoth of a work with more layers than a Chicagoan in December. The premise in itself was exhilarating, and the execution was near flawless. Another chef-d'oeuvre from Ole’ Uncle Stevie. This one was a novel that absolutely could not have been tackled by just anyone and may have fallen flat on its face if handled by a less experienced craftsman. The worlds on both sides of the time-travel line were utterly realistic, but where King really showed his masterful hand was with the threads throughout the novel that wove it all together, from the Yellow Card Man to the janitor’s father to JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald themselves. No character was superfluous, and despite the massive word count on this one, there wasn’t a single phrase that was either. Even characters who were fleeting left their mark, shocking me, tickling me, and provoking thought along the way.

The jargon that King used to color the various neighborhoods and scenes from Maine to Florida to Texas was deliciously realistic—he has a knack for that, and it was on full display here—and I felt that I was fully immersed in the world that he painted. This one gave me goosebumps in more than one place and food for thought in several others. And, refreshingly, King resisted painting the 50s as a happy-go-lucky time of just sock-hops and poodle skirts and gave the 60s the gritty air that it deserved. He infused this glimpse at this time period with realistic strokes of segregation and poverty in his portrayal—truly showing us the world through King-colored glasses.

11/22/63 shifted voices between characters in an effortless way that’s hard to execute. From backwoods Maine lingo to deep Southern vernacular, the voices were masterfully done and the characters were all fully realized. There are biblical references and historical facts—and distortions of them that allowed for his own creative riff on the past—Gothic elements galore and grit. True, unflinching blood-and-dirt-in-your-nails grit.

This one came full circle in various parts of the novel, not just in the end in that formulaic way that we are all oh-so-familiar with, showing how all of the pieces connected hand-in-hand to tell one larger story. Quite the narrative tool for building suspense and tension. I’ll admit that there were times when the full-circle aspect of this one hit me too squarely on the head, when it was too dead on, towards the end, and that pulled me out of the world briefly while I wrestled with my annoyance at being dowsed with that unnecessary, cold splash of water. But the sheer gravity of this novel and unimpeachable hand that resonated through to the very last page overrode those small annoyances. I resist giving this one 4 ½ stars to pay for that annoyance that I experienced, because the rest of the work was so phenomenally done that it would honestly border on being petty. JIMLA! 5 stars *****

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Art + Deco Agency Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Art + Deco Publishing Agency ...more
2

Dec 01, 2011

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm a reluctant fan of Stephen King. But this book was terrible.

The main guy is a teacher.

EVERY POSSIBLE CLICHE ABOUT TEACHERS is in this book. As in:

1. Meticulously correcting oral grammar
2. Catching some kids drinking at the sock hop, but letting them off easy after a heartfelt talk about actions and consequences
3. Directing a play and thereby enabling the town's best football player to realize his intellectual strengths

and on and on.

There are also a series of contrived plot twists. For I'm a reluctant fan of Stephen King. But this book was terrible.

The main guy is a teacher.

EVERY POSSIBLE CLICHE ABOUT TEACHERS is in this book. As in:

1. Meticulously correcting oral grammar
2. Catching some kids drinking at the sock hop, but letting them off easy after a heartfelt talk about actions and consequences
3. Directing a play and thereby enabling the town's best football player to realize his intellectual strengths

and on and on.

There are also a series of contrived plot twists. For example:

1. A crazed ex-husband shows up out of nowhere to kill the female lead for no reason and with no explanation.
2. AMNESIA. There's actually a case of amnesia in this story. Sure does throw a wrench into things!

And then, there's the love story. Here are the problems:

1. In my opinion, one or both of the characters has to be/do something cute or sexy or funny or interesting to merit falling in love. It can't just be like, "I realized she had a vagina and that I could potentially get all up in it. How I loved her."

2. Stephen King writes about sex as though he's never had sex. I've said this about him before. You know that scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where he's talking about how boobs feel like bags of sand, and everyone's like, ".....?" That's what reading Stephen King's sex scenes is like. One could make the case that, because Stephen King is a dude, it's impossible for him to know what first-time sex is like for a woman, but you don't have to be exposed to too many books or movies or TV shows to know that it fucking sucks. There's no "OhmygodYES" the first time you have sex as a woman. There's crying.

3. The reason why the woman is a virgin is that her husband of some years didn't want to put his dick in her "germy woman-hole." Really??????? That's not a thing that happens.

And all of this is to say nothing of the super-ridiculous time travel rules. Like I know it's sci-fi and that he writes a novel every twelve days and all, but let's put in some effort, here.

Skip this one and re-read Salem's Lot.

The rest of this post has spoilers in it so stop now if you haven't already read it.

So the guy changes the past and then comes back to find SWASTIKAS on everything, and encounters some teens on their way to a "Hate Meeting." Not extremely subtle or realistic, ya know? ...more
5

Aug 06, 2015

Jake Epping, a high school English teacher living in Lisbon Falls, Maine, seems to enjoy his vocation along with the very cheap burgers at Al’s Diner made fresh daily by owner Al Templeton. Meeting up with Al one evening, Jake is stunned by the astonishing secret Al has kept for several years. As Jake listens closely he is extremely skeptical and shocked about Al’s request; he wants him to go on a journey. Not any ordinary journey, but an extraordinary and quite unique mission that he needs to Jake Epping, a high school English teacher living in Lisbon Falls, Maine, seems to enjoy his vocation along with the very cheap burgers at Al’s Diner made fresh daily by owner Al Templeton. Meeting up with Al one evening, Jake is stunned by the astonishing secret Al has kept for several years. As Jake listens closely he is extremely skeptical and shocked about Al’s request; he wants him to go on a journey. Not any ordinary journey, but an extraordinary and quite unique mission that he needs to take at once. 11/22/63 is guaranteed to capture readers and draw them into a time period that many will recall and reminisce with pleasure about the good old days. For the most part the story moves along at a gentle speed, no rushing, no fast action, just an easy going way of telling a profound heartfelt tale. However, when you least expect it the story line takes an abrupt turn with nail biting, breath-taking moments. Stephen King is a master at his craft and 11/22/63 is a dazzling, outstanding achievement. Highly recommended to all readers.

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3

Jun 22, 2012

I had just sat down to begin this review on my laptop when the doorbell went. I wasn't expecting anyone. It was probably going to be one of those pitiful door to door salesmen trying to get me to buy a dishcloth for a fiver. They make me feel so bad. But it wasn't. I opened the door and looked at myself. It was me.

"Huh, what? " I said. "You're… you're…"

"Yeah, that's right. I'm you. Sorry about that. Like looking in a mirror, isn't it? But worse!"

"Uh… what's goin' on ?" This was bad, I was I had just sat down to begin this review on my laptop when the doorbell went. I wasn't expecting anyone. It was probably going to be one of those pitiful door to door salesmen trying to get me to buy a dishcloth for a fiver. They make me feel so bad. But it wasn't. I opened the door and looked at myself. It was me.

"Huh, what? " I said. "You're… you're…"

"Yeah, that's right. I'm you. Sorry about that. Like looking in a mirror, isn't it? But worse!"

"Uh… what's goin' on ?" This was bad, I was quoting Marvin Gaye album titles now.

"May I come in?" I said

"Well, I suppose so," I said. So I went inside. I made myself a cup of tea and one for me too. We sat down at the table and regarded each other with frank horror.

"I don't really look like that, do I?" I was looking kind of rough. "What's this all about? Are you a clone?"

"No, I'm the one and only you, that's to say I'm me all right. I'm from the future. 26th of November 2012 to be precise."

"Oh you think I'm going to believe that?" I raised my eyebrows in a hauty sceptical manner. "I just read a book about time travel. It's that one there – " I gestured to the fat wedge on the table between us. "In fact I was just about to review it."

"Stephen King's 11.22.63 – yes, that's the reason I'm here."

"Huh?"

"I'll come to the point, PB. " My eyes narrowed almost to the point where I couldn't see out of them. "You can't write that review. The one you were going to. You have to change it."

"What do you mean, change it? How do you know what I was going to write, anyway, I haven't written it yet?"

"Because I wrote it, remember? I'm you. Come on, the guy in this book is a lot quicker on the uptake than this. I haven't got all day." I could be a bit snappy sometimes. "You were all set to launch into one of your famous diatribes weren't you? You'd already worked up a few choice phrases, along the lines of

So he goes back in time to 1958 and he's living through these years waiting to get to the assassination bit and that's where the story becomes this I-Love-The-Late-50s-Stroke-Early-Sixties loveletter from Stephen King to his own childhood. The boring teacher gets to meet a girl and fall in lurve, sweet sweet lurve. That's not a spoiler, it's in the blurb, sweet sweet blurb. He gets to live in The perfect Small Town. He gets to Affect Kids' Lives. He gets to Feel Alive For The First Time and swear he's never going back to the Future again! He gets to blurt out anachronistic slang and have people look at him funny! He gets to wince at casual racism! It's all good. But not for me. I wanted to get back to Oswald. I paid my damn ticket, and I wanted to see some Oswald. The ticket did not say GREASE IS THE WORD on it. But for 200 pages it may as well have. But Oswald's the one that I want. Oooh ooh ooh.

I was amazed – that was exactly what I was going to write.

"So as usual you were going to be so mean. You can't deny it. I know you were because you did it, that's to say I did it, and I'm here now to stop myself from doing it."

"Okay so let me get this straight, you came from the future – howja do that anyway?"

"There's a portal in next-door's garden shed. I got the idea of looking for a portal when I read this book."

"Oh – anyway, you came from the very near future and you decided the most important thing to do was to stop me writing one particular review on Goodreads of one dubious Stephen King novel? Why didn't you do something more useful than that? "

"Well, I did," I whined. "I already prevented Kate Middleton from falling downstairs at Buckingham Palace – that was tough, you know the past doesn't want to be changed. And I found somebody's lost cat for them. And now you – you're the last on my list."

"So what's the big deal about my review of 11.22.63?"

"Well, you read the thing, so you know about the Butterfly effect, right?"

"Er, yes. Stephen King goes on and on and on about it."

"Well, there you are. Because of that."

"I don't get it."

"Well, like that song You can't move forward without movin back"

"I've never heard of that."

"Oh of course – that's from three weeks in the future. Sorry about that, I gave myself away there."

"No you didn't, you already told me you're from the future."

"Oh yes, so I did. It can be confusing getting all this straight in your head when you're from the future. Got any aspirin? Anyway, your nasty review gets to be unaccountably popular on Goodreads."

"Oh yeah, it does? As popular as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle? "

"More than that."

"Great!"

"No, not great."

"But I need another hit. I've been getting kind of middling results for months. You're only as good as your last review, you know. It's a vicious world. No compassion. "

I was quoting old Talking Heads song titles, but this was a once in a lifetime thing that was happening. So that made it okay.

"Yeah well, that's the problem. After your review things… happen. If your review persuades just one single person not to buy the book, then that's probably why in three weeks' time Japan splits in half and most people have got acne in the world of three weeks from now. The future is important, it must be preserved. Hosts of butterflies are always in the air, waiting to fly around like crazy ass future-changing bastards."

"That's ridiculous."

Suddenly we heard the front door opening.

"That'll be Helen, she's usually back from work at this time."

"Ah, I'd forgotten. This will be awkward. Isn't there any place for me to hide? "

"Er, no – this is just a normal living room, as you know, since it's yours. You could try to hide behind the settee but you'll have to shove it out from the wall, and she'll notice I think."

It was too late. She came into the room and surveyed the both of us.

"This is a bit weird. He's me but he's from the future."

She didn't miss a beat.

"Oh well, you've just come in time. I need you to pick up Georgia from school, she had a rehearsal for the play so I couldn't do it, and can you (pointing at the future me) nip to Sainsbury's and get me a few things? I need you to be quick, I'm in a mad rush. I've got that thing tonight, remember?" And she gave me a shopping list.

I looked at me. "Is this kind of thing allowed? Now we're doing Multiplicity."

"Oh yes, that old film with Michael Keaton. That was quite good. Yes, well, I suppose this once. But look – you have to give 11.22.63 three stars. Remember Japan and acne."

"Okay, I promise."

That's the last I saw of me until I got curious about whether there really was a portal in the neighbour's garden shed.
...more
5

Feb 08, 2018

March 18th, 2018
I've thought about this book off and on the last few months since I read it. I've changed my mind and rating.
I changed it to 5 STARS and still love it. That's the power of a great book!

February 8th, 2018
I went into this book knowing three things:

1. It was HUGE
2. I’m not a big JFK assignation conspiracy fan. I didn’t know if this whole plot would work for me or not.
3. I know Stephen King can get wordy, so I was hoping that this book wouldn’t lag or get off point.

First, I can March 18th, 2018
I've thought about this book off and on the last few months since I read it. I've changed my mind and rating.
I changed it to 5 STARS and still love it. That's the power of a great book!

February 8th, 2018
I went into this book knowing three things:

1. It was HUGE
2. I’m not a big JFK assignation conspiracy fan. I didn’t know if this whole plot would work for me or not.
3. I know Stephen King can get wordy, so I was hoping that this book wouldn’t lag or get off point.

First, I can safely say that yes, the book is huge, but the story is so captivating that I didn’t notice.
Secondly, I now want to go to Dallas and the Texas School Book Depository to see where Oswald did the deed. What a bastard. Not only with killing Kennedy but in his marriage as well.
I’m NOW totally fascinated by the assassination and might be wearing a tinfoil hat soon.
And lastly, Stephen King did get wordy, but I loved all the characters so much that I didn’t mind. The characters in Jodie, Texas made this book for me. He gave the teenagers heart along with the teachers and the whole community. I loved every bit of it.

Stephen King really nailed the baby-boom area. I could see it in my mind as I was listening to this audio book.
Yes, I did the audio book for this and I don’t regret it. At the beginning, the narrator Craig Wasson would change voices to fit the character. I found it a bit odd when he would do a woman’s voice in the beginning of the book but by the end, I loved every minute of it. He did it all from Texas and Russian accents, along with the annoying old woman. Well done sir! Hahaha

I loved Jake Epping. He was a complex and well-loved hero. He made this book for me.
I’m not sure if I would have faced some of the morality choices with the same type of grace. I would have been greedy, and gambling much more than he did in the book! Ha!! I also would have been a bit more bloodthirsty.
Hey, I'm not going to lie.

I highly recommend this book. Seriously, you won't regret reading this. The story along with the characters will make you love, laugh and hate with a vengeance. I was crying at the end and the tension had me on the edge of my seat.
THIS is great writing and storytelling. Well done King!

Oh yeah, one last thing. If I never hear the word OBDURATE again, it will be too soon. This damn word drove me nuts by the end. Use syllables next time King! ...more
5

May 31, 2017

This book is one of the best I have read in awhile for its length. It's pure genius.

Who hasn't wanted do-overs in their life ? I would probably go back to when I started high school and make wiser decisions.

I would have loved to have heard the conversations between Stephen King, his wife and their son, Author Joe Hill. His wife still stands with the theories that Oswald didn't act alone, and Joe Hill thought of another way to end the book.

The way King describes the characters in this makes This book is one of the best I have read in awhile for its length. It's pure genius.

Who hasn't wanted do-overs in their life ? I would probably go back to when I started high school and make wiser decisions.

I would have loved to have heard the conversations between Stephen King, his wife and their son, Author Joe Hill. His wife still stands with the theories that Oswald didn't act alone, and Joe Hill thought of another way to end the book.

The way King describes the characters in this makes them very believable and ones you become attached to. The lead character is complex and often alone. I was often thinking to myself, "no, don't do that, do this." He is also the narrator of the story. Jake/George is told about a time travel mechanism by a friend where he can possibly save JFK from assassination and change the future. To reveal more would require spoilers.
The strength of the story actually lies with the characters, and the bonds that they form. I felt their emotions just like I was there. I could taste the root beer in the frosted mug at the soda fountain counter.

I think if people try to argue the "what ifs" and the politics of this book, you are missing the point. The book is long by some peoples standards but I thoroughly enjoyed every page. It was interesting the way King wrote fiction/non fiction/science fiction/love story all together in one book and it flowed without any effort. It keeps you guessing a lot of the time which I liked.

Overall, this book is phenomenal. I can tell King did a lot of research on this book, but now I want to know more. This is a fast for the length of the book and I highly recommend it ...more
5

Jun 11, 2012

WOW! What a great read! UNPUTDOWNABLE! My favorite book of the year thus far. Highly recommend!

Occam's Razor - the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Update: February 15, 2016 - Watched the first episode on HULU.......Yikes! Get ready for some action-packed scenes that "jump" out at you and some super scary dudes from hell! Can't wait to get back to it, but want to stretch out the series to last!

Update: June 4, 2016 - Wow! Oh! Wow! Excellent!

Enjoyed a marathon day of all 8 episodes

WOW! What a great read! UNPUTDOWNABLE! My favorite book of the year thus far. Highly recommend!

Occam's Razor - the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Update: February 15, 2016 - Watched the first episode on HULU.......Yikes! Get ready for some action-packed scenes that "jump" out at you and some super scary dudes from hell! Can't wait to get back to it, but want to stretch out the series to last!

Update: June 4, 2016 - Wow! Oh! Wow! Excellent!

Enjoyed a marathon day of all 8 episodes of Season 1.

Intense.....Powerful.....Action Packed!

Don't Miss It!

...more
4

Mar 22, 2017

Traveling Sister Reads Review by NORMA, LINDSAY and BRENDA!!

3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars for the book
5+++++++ stars for the reading experience for all of us participating in this ‘Traveling Sister Reads’!! So much fun!!!

Steven King has a lot going on here in 11/22/63 as we have some time-traveling, political history, and also a little bit of romance in this Historical Fiction Thriller novel that had us all engaged, interested, and rooting for a positive outcome but we must admit that we found Traveling Sister Reads Review by NORMA, LINDSAY and BRENDA!!

3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars for the book
5+++++++ stars for the reading experience for all of us participating in this ‘Traveling Sister Reads’!! So much fun!!!

Steven King has a lot going on here in 11/22/63 as we have some time-traveling, political history, and also a little bit of romance in this Historical Fiction Thriller novel that had us all engaged, interested, and rooting for a positive outcome but we must admit that we found ourselves a little bored at times.

Although fictional, King skillfully weaves together fact and fiction and he did an incredible amount of research as explained in his Afterword and much of this story is based on fact. We were all a little ashamed to admit that we didn’t know much about the Kennedy Assassination prior to reading this and we all were happy to have learned a lot while reading this story. It sparked an interest for Lindsay that will surely lead her to read other books on this topic.

We found that the action picks up right away as we quickly learn the details of the time traveling aspect of this novel and how most of the time traveling worked. The time traveling was kept fairly simple and understandable. The story takes on a human side of it through the romance and the lives of the characters which takes up a lot of the middle of the book. Showing us a pleasant, ordinary, and somewhat boring life for a bit of the story. We loved the romance that transpired within this story as it was a pleasant distraction from some of the political history, especially the Russian political history, that we all struggled with.

We like how King gave a story to angry, violent, and disturbed Lee Oswald giving us some interesting insight into his and his family's lives.

The story sagged and really dragged for us at times and we felt that a lot of unnecessary details could've been sliced and diced a bit and still tell a strong story. Unfortunately, this did take a bit away from the story and was a bit discouraging. The chapters being broken done in sections did help getting through the length of this weight lifting book.

We thoroughly enjoyed the story being told from the perspective of Jake Epping/George Amberson, who we all absolutely loved as a main character. Jake’s personality and inner thoughts had us all giggling to ourselves at times. Jake was a very anchored character to reality and loved his desire and determination to change the future not only for his world but for all of mankind.

We LOVED good hearted and wounded Jake and Sadie and their tender relationship that had us rooting for them throughout the entire book. We were completely caught off guard that this turned out to be somewhat of a love story – not what we were expecting at all and we absolutely loved that part of the novel.

Toward the end, we all kept looking for a twist that never came and felt that while we enjoyed the story, the book didn't quite live up to the hype we had expected.


All of our Traveling Sister Reads Reviews can be found on our blog:
http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi... ...more
4

Oct 01, 2017

An excellent Stephen King novel.

I think many of us probably have an experience that is some variation of this story: English teacher and / or writer condescendingly dismisses King’s work as trite and spectacular, opining that their own work suffers from an artistic perception lacking in mainstream literature.

I was in a college class where our teacher (an otherwise fun and engaging lecturer and knowledgeable professor – and published author) said something to the effect that King’s work was “ An excellent Stephen King novel.

I think many of us probably have an experience that is some variation of this story: English teacher and / or writer condescendingly dismisses King’s work as trite and spectacular, opining that their own work suffers from an artistic perception lacking in mainstream literature.

I was in a college class where our teacher (an otherwise fun and engaging lecturer and knowledgeable professor – and published author) said something to the effect that King’s work was “good enough for the working class”. The professor’s own novels would be prized by a more discerning literary palate and he would savor his peer recognition.

I’m not sure to this day who he thought he was fooling. What had gotten his goat was that Stephen King was wallowing in C-notes the way a hog wades in mud. He was jealous of his success and he played the Hemingway to King’s Mickey Spillane and played the only card he had, losing (again) to King’s Ace high royal flush.

Wine and roses are fine, but I’m a beer and pizza guy (yes, a working-class reader you smug prick) and I gotta say that King’s 2011 time travel novel is the cat’s meow and he earned every coin.

I’m also a fan of the time travel sub-genre, being a student of Bradbury and Poul Anderson. King takes the Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court time machine idea of a strange occurrence that is never thoroughly explained or understood. But this is Stephen King after all and he mixes in some mysterious elements to keep the story moving. I also liked that we have a thorough examination of the butterfly effect and even mentioned Bradbury’s seminal time travel story A Sound of Thunder.

What’s it all about? A guy from our time (from New England of course) learns of a “rabbit hole” though time. King allows for an unusual magical setting rule: the traveler goes back to the same date every time, in September 1958. And so the plan is hatched to go back to save Kennedy. It then stands to reason that our intrepid time traveler will spend five years in the past waiting for his rendezvous with destiny.

Obdurate. ob·du·rate adjective: stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or course of action. King uses this word over a dozen times in the book to describe how the past does not want to change and makes it difficult for our hero to save the day. This kind of unleveling of the playing field is first rate King and his almost personification of time is one of the elements of this story that makes it so appealing. ** Coincidentally, I made a similar observation about Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage where he repeatedly uses the word vituperative.

What also makes this succeed is what makes King’s horror stories work so well – his uncanny ability to find the unusual in everyday life. King, in much the same way that Steven Spielberg does in film, finds the horrific and exciting in the ordinary. The monster is not just under the bed or in the closet, but in the laundry room, and buried inside a stack of old magazines – or in a pantry in a greasy spoon diner. **Harken back to the comments about King writing for the working class. Hell yeah, elitist literary types, pay attention and you might learn something.

At the end of the day, this is a very good book – a great story told by a master storyteller.

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4

May 20, 2013

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When a dying friend shows him a portal to 1958 in the back of his diner, Jake Epping finds himself venturing in the past with one goal in mind: Stopping Lee Harvey Oswald! But did Oswald do it? And can Jake stop him even if he did fire the shot that killed JFK?

Once I got over Stephen King's throbbing erection for the late 1950's/early 1960's, I enjoyed this book immensely. Here's how it all went down.

Jake's friend, an old diner owner, shows him a portal back to 1958. Each trip is like the first When a dying friend shows him a portal to 1958 in the back of his diner, Jake Epping finds himself venturing in the past with one goal in mind: Stopping Lee Harvey Oswald! But did Oswald do it? And can Jake stop him even if he did fire the shot that killed JFK?

Once I got over Stephen King's throbbing erection for the late 1950's/early 1960's, I enjoyed this book immensely. Here's how it all went down.

Jake's friend, an old diner owner, shows him a portal back to 1958. Each trip is like the first trip, meaning Al has been buying the same 12 pounds of ground beef at 1958 prices for years. Al wants Jake to stop the Kennedy assassination, something Al had been planning on doing until cancer laid him low. Jake gets railroaded into doing it and finds himself blundering around after Lee Harvey Oswald until 1963.

Yeah, it didn't sound that exciting to me either at first but I was hooked right away. Stephen King is criminally underrated as a writer, mostly because he writes mammoth best sellers more often than I clean my downstairs bathroom. Frequency aside, he can write the shit out of things. I had no trouble buying Jake's romance with Sadie, nor his reluctance to kill Oswald without being sure he was guilty, nor the idea that the past doesn't want to be changed. When the big moment came, I felt like the entire universe was at jeopardy, much like I did in The Dark Tower.

Speaking of The Dark Tower, there are Stephen King Easter eggs in abundance, like Jake meeting a certain two children in Derry, to the Takura Spirit he sees by the road late in the tale. Remembered a day after reviewing: There's also a Jim Thompson reference in that there's a sign outside Jodie reading Pop. 1280. I even wrote that on a post-it but forgot about it during the intitial review writing process.

I like the way King handled time travel, especially this exchange between Jake and Al, which I'm paraphrasing:
"What if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather?"
"Why the fuck would you do that?"
Another time travel bit I really liked was Jake had to take era-appropriate money with him. A lot of time travel stories neglect that.

While I was reading this, my girlfriend, who forcibly recommended the book to me, asked what I would do with a time portal that functioned like this one, returning two minutes after you left no matter how much time you spent in the past. I told her I'd sneak away and take long naps or go on reading vacations for a week or two of subjective time. That's one way to get some serious reading done.

I did have a few complaints, though. Jake does some awfully conspicuous things in the past for a guy who's trying to fly under the radar. Also, the aforementioned boner for JFK and his era. I have to think King was looking at the 50's and 60's through rose colored glasses. Food and drink tasting better in the past? Sounds like nostalgia to me.

All in all, this was the shortest 900 page book I've ever read and one hell of a read. 4 stars, leaning heavily toward five. I do not envy whichever book I read after this one. ...more
5

Jul 02, 2016



**********SOME SPOILERS**********

Here is another book I wasn't sure I would like as I don't care for time travel books. BUT.. once again I was wrong and this time travel book was AWESOME!

Jake Epping is having a normal day when his friend Al, who owns a diner, lets him in on a big secret.



Al's little diner has a portal that leads back to the 1950's - 60's! And Al wants Jake to go back and try to save Kennedy to see if the world would be a better place. Al has been trying for awhile but now he's

**********SOME SPOILERS**********

Here is another book I wasn't sure I would like as I don't care for time travel books. BUT.. once again I was wrong and this time travel book was AWESOME!

Jake Epping is having a normal day when his friend Al, who owns a diner, lets him in on a big secret.



Al's little diner has a portal that leads back to the 1950's - 60's! And Al wants Jake to go back and try to save Kennedy to see if the world would be a better place. Al has been trying for awhile but now he's going to die of cancer and he can't do it any more. But if Jake goes into that time and comes back to 2011 and has to go back then it resets.

More slowly than ever, I said: "Every . . . time . . . is . . . the . . . first time."

Al has this whole thing set up with money from that time, instructions on Oswald's movements, what to buy, what to do.. it's been a long time in the making for Al so he's prepared and gets Jake ready as much as he can for the journey.

Jake heads over a few times in the book just to get the feel of what he's trying to do. He wants to help save a persons family that he knows from this time. Anyhoo, while he's over there he gets himself a 1954 Ford Ragtop Sunliner to cruise around in and it's cherry red. Oh and cheap, back in the day and all!



At one point poor ole Jake thinks he's done cracked his nut, and who wouldn't?

I'm crazy, I thought. Crazy and having a terribly involved hallucination in a mental hospital somewhere. Perhaps some doctor will write me up for a psychiatric journal. Instead of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, I'll be The Man Who Thought He Was in 1958

When Jake goes to help his friend Henry's family, he has to go to Derry, Maine and spend some time there. He feels like the place is not right.... well, all Stephen King fans know who or what is in Derry :-)



This is actually one of my favorite, if not favorite parts of the book because not only does he go through some crazy stuff to help his friend... he talks to some of the kids from the book "IT" !!!! I was so crazy reading this part. Some of the towns people also talk about some of the stuff that happened when you know who was around. And don't mention clowns in the town! It was just bittersweet to me because I could picture some of the things from the other book with the descriptions in this book.

So Jake gets what he wants done in Derry after two attempts of resetting and then he's off to do the main deed. But, first he gets some jobs as a substitute teacher etc. (He's a teacher in 2011) And he falls in love. Yep, can't do nothing without falling in love!



And the lovely lady would be Sadie Dunhill. At first I was a little irritated that we had to go off track and fall in love. I wanted to continue on and not get into the drama that came with Sadie but it all worked out in the end. Sadie was a sweet person and I can't really say anything else without major spoilers.

Either way, I loved the stories and I loved the characters! If you haven't looked at the end of the book there are some lovely things added. Obviously you have the Afterword, You have questions for discussion for your book group, A conversation with Stephen King, Playlist from the book, Menu from the book which I am excited over as I'm going to make some of the food :-)

Another winner in my book, Mr. King! Pun intended!

I have yet to see the mini series but it comes out on blu-ray in August so I'm hoping I can get it and see if it's good too!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List ...more

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