The Reliable Unsurprisingly Surprising Mr. King 11/22/63

Stephen King unsurprisingly tells a tale in 11/22/63 that is way more than it would seem at first glance, which in itself is hardly surprising because you don’t build a huge readership and fan base by going for the obvious.  Mr. King always delivers that little bit more and he does it with style.

Ostensibly the book is about using time travel to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 in Dallas Texas.  The idea being of course that so many of the bad idea roads America travelled down following that event would have been prevented.  Seems like a short sweet idea with a big final hurrah at success.

I said in a blog recently that we must be careful of what we wish for and Mr. King aptly demonstrates the why’s of that caution and by the time you finish reading this novel you may answer the question: ‘If you had the power what one thing would you change in the past?’ a little differently at the end of the book than you might have in the beginning.

For one thing the story becomes very personal on more than one level.  I like that King writes from an everyman perspective so there are no big talk- their- own- language scientists around.  How the time portal works from Al’s Hamburger joint by stepping through the pantry cannot be explained.  It just is.  And when you go down the steps into the past you always arrive at exactly the same moment: at 11:58 a.m. on the morning if September 9, 1958.  This very fact has a huge impact on everything.

How Al Templeton, the original user of this portal,  makes the best use of the opportunity may at first seem rather mundane, but then he experiments a bit with some deeper subjects and comes up with a plan that will have worldwide impact.  Except, because of a glitch he must find someone else to do the deed, or as it turns out, the deeds.  And that’s where Jake Epping aka George Amberson comes in.

Intrigue and sub plots are woven as intricately and delicately as an elaborate lace tablecloth double and tripled layered here and there and well everywhere.  It’s a delicious story that is not as farfetched as say Michael Crichton’s Timeline (which I adore and reread again and again). Um I must take that statement back because Timeline is believable.

11/22/63 is expansive because it is not nicely encapsulated with a beginning, middle and end, but has endless possibilities in our own minds.  The potential for discussion of those possibilities is immense and leaves the door wide open for more.  What is the story of the man with the yellow card?  I want to know more about him and the others like him.  How many portals are there?  Who else has used them to what end?

I love it that the past is obdurate and like Dean Koontz’ (best book of his all time in my opinion), Lightning the past (or Fate) will seek to return, to correct change.

It is easy to become intimate with each of the characters: Jake, George, Harry Dunning, Al, The Yellow Card Man, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina, June, Sadie Dunhill, so many that count so much.  The people are as real as you and I and that is why we care so much about them.  There are no heroes here, just folk like you and me, living the best we know how in any given moment, and often coming up just that wee bit short.

11/22/63 The Book

 

11/22/63 The Book


Today most people are thinking about the approaching Thanksgiving thinking, planning, cooking and getting ready to celebrate with family and friends.  It is my experience that this holiday is primo, better than Christmas, or what ever your major day of the year is.  It’s a day where commercialism has no hold, no gifts except that of appreciation.

Unless you were born prior to 1960 you will not have a memory of the events of 11/22/63.  You know I did not appreciate this fully until a day long ago,when I made a comment about Jack Kennedy and my  sons asked, “Who is Jack Kennedy?”

That got me thinking about perception and the things that shape our world.  Now I don’t mean our world in the broad sense, I mean our personal internal world and all the things or events that help shape who we are, that touch us in some way.

For some of a more current generation it might be 9/11, or the assassination, or….?  For my parents generation who lived through the second world war it may have been an event for that, the Holocaust, the loss of friends, sons, fathers, mothers,…well you get the idea.  For my mother who served in the WRENS in Britain, it was the memory of working in a command center and when a submarine went down off the coast of Britain and while radio contact was maintained there was no way to rescue those men and all she and her people could do was listen to them die.

Stephen King, my greatest inspiration, although I cannot read some of his books, has published 11/22/63 and in that magnificent King way of his has given the events a twist – of course.  What if the assassination could be prevented?

I cannot comment on the story as I have just begun to read it, but it does make me wonder – if we could change the outcomes, would we or even should we?

Our growth as human beings depends on our ability to adapt and learn and move forward.  There comes a time when, I believe, most of reach a point of acceptance, liking who we have become and are comfortable in our own skins even though, by that point our skins seem to hang loosely on out bones.

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