Thursday, April 17, 2014


Title/Author: 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

Narrator: Craig Wasson.

Genre:  Speculative Fiction, Sci-Fi.

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis:  If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you?  Woud the consequences be what you hoped?

Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor's story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father.  On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy.

Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock'n'roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts.  Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside loner Kee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?  

Midnyte Musings:  Here's a few things I would do if I found a portal to 1958:
-Buy and collect all the Halloween memorabilia and antiques I could. 
-Buy a bunch of cars and put them in a garage and hire someone to start them every few years to keep them running, so that when I came back to the present they would be there waiting for me. If I had enough money, I would also hire someone to buy a lot of classic cars throughout the 60s and 70s to be held for me as well. Ever watch those Barrett's Car Auctions?
-Buy a lot of Beatles memorabilia and maybe even fly to Berlin or wherever they were at that time to meet them.  And probably The Who as well.

But onto Stephen King's vision.  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.   So much going on. When I first heard about 11/22/63 and the premise, I had thought it would involve the government and agents, secret plots and complicated political intrigues.  I didn't realize it would center around just one man, Jake Epping,  who was attempting to change history.  What a daunting task.  Jake is convinced by his friend Al, that this piece of history must be changed, must be stopped.  That the world would be better if JFK was never assassinated.  But is the vision and intention of one man, even two, absolutely certain?  The fact that Jake is convinced is the impetus of the story and his life as he finds it between 1958 and 1963 is the meat of the story.  He builds a life for himself during this time all the while, keeping up with the comings and goings of Lee Harvey Oswald. 

The concepts are interesting, at times existential. It's not about time travel, it's about different realities. The narrator keeps repeating that the past is obdurate, meaning it doesn't want to change. This is apparent in the the coincidences that occur, in the resistance of manipulating events. Our reality is what we have experienced, as individuals and as a population.  Major events I would want to change would be The Holacaust and 9/11.  But if I managed to do that, what would I then be putting into motion?

Of course there is the typical detailed descriptions and backstory that King is known for. Although in a lot of King books I wonder if I need to know so much, in 11/22/63, the details seemed more pertinent.  The taste of a root beer in 1958, the flavor of the air.  The cost of living and the descriptions of cars and the landscape.  Did King need all that "filler?"  Certainly.  Because Jake's life really began when he went back to 1958, when he found a purpose.  All the richness of his life and what he went through for others adds to the rich tapestry of the story.

When I saw Stephen King speak in Connecticut, he said that 11/22/63 is a love story.  I can definitely see that.  And to me it epitomizes that it's a love story because of the sacrifice.  The love story in my eyes is not epic.  It's quiet and nurturing.  Jake shows his love by standing by Katie, by taking care of her and caring for her.   I don't want to give too much away, but the end had to happen the way it did. In typical King fashion, it left me heartbroken and thinking about it long after I closed the book. 

Narration:  Once again, King has provided a stunning narrator.  The story is told in Epping's first person POV and he is likeable and relatable.  There is nothing forced about his speech, even female voices.  What I loved was the self deprecating chuckles throughout.

Starstruck Over:  It's a beautiful story.  It's a tragic story.  It's an epic story.   Not just for King fans.

Other Editions:


Julie@My5monkeys said...

okay your review talked me into reading this and I didn't know it was a love story . I haven't read a king in a while . Under the dome is going to be back soon :)

Roberta R. said...

I can't always read King because of the detailed goriness...but this one appeals to me (I love me a good time travel). Great review (I know, lots of people say so casually...but I mean it) and I had to smile at the car comment!

Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I don't read a lot of King because he scares me, but I LOVED 11/22/63. I loved the details and the ideas and... all the things! I would also love to take an adventure back to the 50's. So glad you loved it!

Aurian said...

I have never wanted to read a Stephen King book, but perhaps this one. Glad you loved it so much.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Oooh, I love that you filed this under Speculative Fiction!

I loved all the details of the past too- just knowing how different it smelled back then is something I don't know that a lot of authors would have thought to include but which would be a huge shock to someone used to our modern times.

While you're back in time and all, feel free to purchase some land for me, okay?

TP said...

Isn't Stevo amazing! I really liked this, although it wasn't perfect, the story was just fantastic. Glad you liked this one too.

Tanya Patrice

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...