December 28, 2011

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King

I'm a fan of Stephen King.  He's a talented writer who does a great job with gruesome horror genre books like It but also manages to write suspense and general fiction in an enjoyable way.  My favorite books by him are Duma Key and Insomnia while I despised The Dome (really, aliens?).  I enjoyed the Dark Tower series in general but hated how he wrote himself into the last book.

All of that said, I am unsure how I feel about 11/22/63.  The plot is fairly straight forward:  Jake's friend finds a time tunnel to 1958, and recruits Jake to go back in time and stop the assassination of JFK.  In those five years of living in the past, Jake not only shadows Lee Harvey Oswald but also carves out a semi-normal life for himself teaching English in a small town. 

I read it fast.  At 800 pages, the story was compelling enough that I enjoyed it and didn't think about taking a break from the book.  Still, it could have benefited from some editing.  There are a lot of Easter eggs hidden in the story, references to other Stephen King novels.  The romance aspect was both lovely and authentically tragic.   

My enthusiasm waned with the ending.  The chapters that actually occur on the date 11/22/63 drag, and I kept thinking that the surely the universe would throw something more at them.  Without going into too much detail, the final part of the book is simply not enough for me.  A lot of explanation is skimmed over.  I'm not sure how else it could have ended, but some of the conclusions that simply felt forced and hurried, without any supporting explanation. 

three stars
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  1. I think unfortunately Stephen King suffers from the fate of many big name authors: too much clout means not enough editing. He's quite obviously very talented and can write blindingly well at times, but I do think he's rather indulged. I remember reading Needful Things, which was just wonderfully different I thought, until I got to the point where the world was coming to an end, chaos and madness erupting all around, when the character Polly says, "Now I've been poisoned. That's fair I suppose..." I fairly screamed GOOD GOD MAN! WHERE WAS YOUR EDITOR? In my experience when flight or fight is triggered (i.e. by the world ending) one tends to speak in monosyllables. I truly can't stand characters who caper around pontificating at times like those.

    Having seen the original version of The Shining, I then tried to watch King's remake and I couldn't stand it. There was a very good reason why all that dialogue was cut originally, and King's version suffered mightily from its inclusion.

  2. Yes, i red the book, just finished it and it was Great. Lots of factual history and research went into this novel. Kept me wanting to read more.
    This novel intertwines both fact and fiction as one begins to think about going back and change history. is it possible and if it were, what are the consequences.
    Great read.....


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