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11/22/63 a book by Stephen King

A book by Stephen King.

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Pay it backward

  • May 3, 2014
Rating:
+3
I haven't read many of this hyper selling author's books and not for quite a while (I remember reading Christine when it was a new book decades ago) and just from the plot synopsis this seems like not a standard King thriller, so maybe it really doesn't count as "reading a Stephen King book." There is very little of the supernatural or otherworldly horror here, that is, once you get past that time travel portal between 2011 and 1958.  And that is both the strength and weakness of 11/22.


Jake Epping is just an ordinary school teacher with a failed marriage in modern day Maine but when he is introduced to the portal by his  friend Al he quickly buys into the rules of engagement with the past that Al has documented:  you always start at the same moment in time, each trip is a reset (a straight lift from the movie Groundhog Day, but it doesn't feel like a rip off but more of a familiar place we have visited before) and you don't retain anything except what you are carrying.   Obviously out of place things like technology, fashion, language, and music have to be left at home in 2011 (a key moment in the story hinges on a still-future Rolling Stones lyric).  Oh and "the past is obdurate" (doesn't want to be changed) and even the smallest changes can have multiplying ramifications (the "butterfly" effect).

King does a great job placing Jake in the cultural, political, and material world of 1958.  Less than 60 years in the past, and within the life time of many of his readers, it is amazing how much has changed in just that time, and King clearly is having fun putting his character there.  While racism, smoking, and medical technology are negative reminders of modern progress, Jake comes to love the time and the people, especially one particular woman.  The plot revolves around how Jake is able to walk the tightrope between being at home in the past with Sadie and carry out a task his knowledge of the future requires of him, all without revealing his own history and avoiding the snares the past (or is it the future?) throws in his path.


The task should be obvious by the title for those of the generation that spans 1958 to to 2011.  Jake's mentor Al had prepared a notebook of details on JFKs assassin in the years between 1958 and 1963, but age and health prevented him from changing history and saving the President.  Will Jake be able to do it?  Does he want to?  Should he?

And there is the weakness of 11/22 that while fun and satisfying comes up short of a 5-star classic.  The task seems too pat and the action preordained.  The world of 11/22 feels like a fully furnished apartment with tasteful but unobtrusive and decorations that leaves not quite enough room for the reader to populate with the furniture of their own imagination.  The return to 2011 seems rushed and jarring, but the ending coda is tender and feels right, leaving the reader happy to have spent time in King's place and time.

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July 10
This is my boyfriend's favourite book! Glad to see others appreciating it. Great Review.
 
May 04
Thanks for sharing.
 
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More 11/22/63: A Novel reviews
review by . February 13, 2012
A great novel with a number of mental and moral quandaries...
   While I end up liking most of the books that I read by Stephen King, he isn't an author that I salivate over when something new comes out. I'm not sure why, as I like the genre and the style of writing. Perhaps I'll chalk it up to having too many other things to read. :)  Anyway, 11/22/63: A Novel caught my interest in terms of what it might be like to go back and prevent an event in history that changed the world. Once I started reading, I was pretty much hooked. King …
review by . July 19, 2012
'Anybody can direct but there are only eleven good writers.
Did you ever wish you had the power to change history?      Stephen King's tour de force, "11/22/63,"  describes that happening and when history is changed it creates unforeseen ripple effects.      Jake Epping is a high school teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He earns extra money by teaching GED courses in adult ed. He's particularly moved by one of his student's papers. Harry Dunning, the school janitor, walks with a limp …
review by . December 16, 2011
Ever since King's early work (The Stand, Misery, The Shining) he seems to have been just a prolific writer of mediocracy.  This book is his big comeback!  In probably the best book of have read in 2011, King grabs the reader from the beginning with excellent characters, an interesting story proposition all in a setting that actually transports the reader back in time to experience the late 50's going up to the fateful day of Novemenber 22, 1963.      Jake Eppling …
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #1
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Wiki

A portal in time sends Jake Eppling to the Year 1958 where he plans to prevent the JFK assassination

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.


Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 1451627289
ISBN-13: 978-1451627282
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Scribner

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