11/22/63 by Stephen King
3 words: wide-ranging, wry, absorbing
Stephen King, where have you been all my life?
Actually, I know the answer to that one.
Dude’s been on the bestseller list most of the years I’ve been a reader. But I associate him with horror, and I can’t handle the horror.
But ever since reading On Writing, my eyes have been opened.
Then my friend chose 11/22/63 for book club, so we could test whether King actually practices what he preaches.
I’m thinking he certainly does.
This book knocked my socks off.
It’s more than 800 pages long (which translates into 25 CDs of audiobook, which translates into a full month of listening at my usual pace), and I would’ve been perfectly content if it had been longer.
…cuz this book has it all goin’ on.
Rip-roaring plot: CHECK!
Likeable, relatable, memorable characters: CHECK!
Engaging narrative voice: CHECK!
A well-researched historical setting: CHECK!
Creative use of language: CHECK!
This book… it has all the things.
Here’s the quick rundown of this wonder:
Jake Epping is a high school English teacher whose buddy at a local diner shows him a wormhole into the past. His friend’s goal was to travel back in time to avert the JFK assassination, so the world could be a better place, and his dying wish is for Jake to carry out the mission. So… Jake dives back in time to 1958 and starts living a new existence in the past.
And King paints a vivid picture of that era — the good and the bad. There’s food that tastes terrific (and there are segregated restrooms) and there are kind and neighborly folk (and there are lots of people smoking).
In spite of the bad parts, Jake begins to feel at home in the late 1950s and early 1960s. And he falls in love. (That wasn’t exactly supposed to happen.)
So as he gathers intel about whether Oswald acted alone, Jake’s living a double life. And that always creates interesting dilemmas.
I’m a JFK geek (each of those four words links to a different JFK post… and that ain’t all of ’em) going way back, and I’ve read an embarrassing number of pages about his life and death. And I’m here to tell you… King got stuff right.
Dude not only researches the living daylights out of a topic, but then he’s careful about the way he sprinkles in the knowledge… like perfect seasoning.
This book… it far exceeded all my expectations.
I just wish I could read it again for the first time. Cuz: wow.
Give this book a whirl if you like… time travel; long, unfolding stories; reading about the JFK assassination; first person narrative; a mix of historical fiction, fantasy, adventure, suspense, and romance
So, kind readers… what book most knocked your socks off?