Monday, May 11, 2015

11/22/63 by Stephen King

  • Release Date: November 8th 2011
  • Genre: Magical Realism / Thriller
  • Pages: 849
  • Publisher: Scribner 

I've always been intrigued by the cover of this book; one side shows a newspaper with Kennedy's assassination as the headline and the other side has the same newspaper with a headline saying the assassination had been avoided. This book has had been sitting on my Kindle since it was on sale for  2.99 and after finishing A Thousand Pieces of You I was looking for a more  complex alternate universe story and figured King could deliver.

 Everything you need to know about this book can be summarized from the cover. Basically,  high school teacher, Jake Epping, goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination. I think saying anything else would just get... complicated.

 This is book is a saga. While I've dabbled with The Dark Tower series and other King novels this is only the second one I've finished. A few years ago I read his short crime noir novel Joyland and really enjoyed it but at well over 800 pages this book takes it to a whole new level. I was 110% into the mythology King was building into this story. The method he invents that allows Jake  to go back in time has some interesting rules and intense side effects that add some complications to the story.

And it's not just magical rules King is building, he is also recreating a certain time and place in the 1960's. I think he does a fair job of addressing the intense racism, sexism and classism that existed in this time when he could have easily avoided it.

 I didn't know a lot about the Kennedy assassination and it's obvious the years of research that went into this book.  King was going to originally publish this in the 1970's but it was considered too soon. It was kind of strange for me at first  because Kennedy's assassin, Lee Henry Oswald and his wife, are secondary characters in the book and King is basically writing fictional dialogue and incidents for them.

At 849 pages this is the longest book I've read since the last Harry Potter came out, so when I first opened this book I told myself  I'd have to be ride or die and actually finish this thing. I did kind of cramp up at one point and stop reading, but I was able to finish this in 2 and half weeks because the pacing goes so quickly and you want to know if Jake will stop the assassination and what that will mean for the future. As a reader I wanted to spend time in this world.

I do have one critique. I've read two of King books and a handful of short stories and I just haven't found an interesting female character in his writing. Most of them securely play the role of Damsel in Distress or get Thrown in Refrigerators. His books also seem to  have this particular brand of "I'm the nice guy hapless hero" protagonist I mean he has to be on like his 100th white-middle-age-writer-and-or-aspiring-writer-from-the-North.

 If you're looking for a big book to spend some time with and your interested in a twist on history this book is mind-bendy page turner. 

It looks like this will be a TV show with James Franco on Hulu...I'm curious if it will all come out at once or week by week.

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