Monday, May 27, 2013
11/22/63, Stephen King
The basic idea, if you don't already know, is that you can go back in time and save JFK. Of course, it doesn't go well. No spoiler there, if you visited the book's website or, you know, ever picked up one of his other book.
The basic run down is this: high school English teacher gets roped into the plan to save JFK by an acquaintance. The acquaintance is a diner owner named Al whose pantry is a rabbit hole (King's phrase) into September 1958. Same time, same place, every trip. Each trip is a reset. Al's changed a few things to see if it's possible, but decides it's time for something big. No matter how long you stay in the past, you're only gone from 2011 for two minutes.
Al attempts to save Kennedy, but has to come back before November 1963 because he is diagnosed with lung cancer. The dying man looks to the English teacher to take up the mission. The teacher tests out the idea, and finally agrees.
Now, unlike most of the books I've reviewed here, this is not a quick read. This thing is like a damn bible! On top of that, it's over 500 pages before you even get to 1963. That's not a complaint, but it's not fast moving. This one is definitely a book that tends to consume you and your time. It's not fast paced, but it's not slow as in boring either.
A side note: if you've read IT, you will likely like the year of 1958 for the English teacher. He arrives to Derry right after the events of IT in that time period and meets a few of the characters. It's one of my favorite aspects of King's writing: the cross over. The Dark Tower series is especially good at this.
The thing about King, IMHO, is his books aren't really about what they're about. They're about the people in them. In this one, it's more of a love story, King style. Even then, the English teacher doesn't meet his leading lady for a few hundred pages. If not a love story, it's a...coming of age. Following the English teacher on this strange journey, see how he grows and changes. And see the true hero he becomes.
I guess my favorite thing is that it's not JFK's life that ruins thing, all though there are definitely negative consequences to that, but it's the actual changing of things that ruins the world - that breaks the world. The heartbreaking thing is, of course, that a man from 2011 and a woman from the 1960s can't be together, no matter how much in love they are. Well, they could, but at the expense of the world. And giving that up is what makes him a hero, not saving JFK, not wanting to save JFK and MLK and all those in Vietnam.
I don't want to go into too much more here for 2 reasons: One, it's worth reading to find out all the ins and outs for yourself - all the steps he must take to make it to 11/22/63. Two, there's just too many and nothing that really stands out for significant comment there. That's not to say parts don't stick with you, just that I don't think those parts will contribute to my review.
Basically, read it your damn self. :) It's worth it.
11/22/63, Stephen King