11-22-63 A Novel by Stephen King
WHAT IF? That is the premise of the new Stephen King novel. What if Oswald had not shot President Kennedy on that fateful Dallas day in November ’63? How would the history of our country be different....would our country be better or worse? Whether you agree with King’s interpretation or not (plot spoiler not discussed here) I found the entire premise and telling of the story fascinating and entertaining—to say the least, I devoured an 800+ page book in a short time. Actually I listened to 30 hours of it on audible.com. in record time.
How could the assassination been prevented? By sending someone back to the late 50’s and early 60’s through time travel to kill Oswald before he kills Kennedy. That someone is a very likeable hero, Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in present day Maine.
When he agrees to take the time travel plunge (yes, he has a choice) he returns to the Maine of 1958. If you lived in the 50’s you’ll love all the references to things familiar, down to the wonderful details. If you were born too late to remember them, I think you’ll still appreciate the time as both of my kids (born in the 60’s) did when they read the book. Obviously King continues to appeal to all ages as the number of customer reviews on Amazon.com as of today (2-1-2011) number 1,136 and that’s probably only a fraction of the people who have read the book.
It’s hard to decide what to rave about first—the creativity of the story itself, the interesting characters Jake meets on his journey through time or that ever fascinating writing style of a master story teller. I encourage you to read this and enjoy all of the above.
As for any time travel novel, there must be a “willing suspension of disbelief “on the reader’s part. This term was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817 as
the temporary acceptance as believable of events or characters that would ordinarily be seen as incredible. This is usually to allow an audience to appreciate works of literature or drama that are exploring unusual ideas.
Looking back, (pardon the pun) time travel has been a part of our favorite literature for many years. Take Alice in Wonderland through the rabbit hole, or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (Newberry award 1962) when Meg Murray’s father disappears through a “tesseract”. Diana Gabaldon fans have adored the love story of Jamie and Claire in the Outlander series (8 volumes worth I believe).
Stephen King also credits one of his favorite (and mine) time travel novels, Time and Again by Jack Finney which takes place in New York City, as inspiring him. A fascinating read I highly recommend.
Isn’t it wonderful how through good literature we can re-live an era or experience one we never lived in but wish we had. I wish you Happy Reading...time and time again.