Thursday, March 15, 2012


If you could change any point in history, what would it be?

In his new masterpiece of time travel, '11/22/63', Stephen King chose JFK's assassination.

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine.  While teaching a GED class, he asks his students to write an essay about an event that changed their lives.  The essay that blows Jake's mind is about the night when his student's father arrived home with a sledgehammer, and killed his wife, daughter, and one of his sons.  Jake realizes that life turns on a dime, and the essay comes to haunt him.  Not much later, Jake's friend, Al, who owns the local diner, confesses a secret:  There is a 'wormhole' in his storeroom; a portal to the past.  Al begs Jake to go back to 1958 and prevent the assassination of President Kennedy.  But Jake has other business to attend to, first.  Along the way, Jake (who has taken the alias 'George Amberson') travels to Derry, Maine (the town made famous in 'It'), where he changes the incident he first learned about in the unforgettable essay.  Learning to live in a world of Ike, JFK, big American cars, and cigarette smoke becomes second nature, but as he begins to set his friend's plan into action, Jake falls in love...which could become his undoing.

When I see a new, big book by King, I wonder if it will be filled with long-winded passages; perhaps even rants.  However, '11/22/63' is anything but.  Although it runs over 800 pages, I found it almost impossible to put down.  The passages where Jake finds love and an almost normal life in Texas were charming, but they didn't lack some of King's trademark terrifying moments.  But when Jake finalizes his plans to fulfill his original purpose, the tale finally reveals its dark twists-and-turns.

What Jake discovers when he finally returns to 2011 is almost impossible to believe (in the realm of fiction), yet seems quite plausible.

But I'm not saying a word.  That is something you must discover on your own.

King had almost dedicated his novel to the great fantasy writer, Jack Finney, author of the classic 'Time and Again', but the appearance of King's new granddaughter, Zelda, took the spot. 

On a final note, I do have this to say:  I love the wonderful note at the end of each and every book that King writes.  He gives his faithful readers a little peek into his life; what makes him tick, what passions fuel his writing fire.  But, most of all, he never fails to thank his 'first reader', his wife, Tabitha.      

King's nonfiction book, 'On Writing', has been released in a tenth-anniversary edition.  You will learn more about his life, writing process, and the books he loves.

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