11/22/63, written by Stephen King and recently published, is a look back to what might have happened if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated. This thick tome was written from the viewpoint of Jake Epping, a 40-something man from 2011, who gets a chance to visit the past and change history. Epping finds a “rabbit hole” that takes him to the day of September 9, 1958, in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Epping goes on this quest a few times, first exploring and then actively changing events, trying to help certain people he has encountered on his trips to the past. Each time he goes back, he starts from the same day again, and if he wants to accomplish the same things as previously, he has to repeat them. Only he usually tries to improve what he has done before.
–JFK motorcade on 11/22/63 from Wikipedia
I have not read a King novel in a long time and wanted to find out if I still enjoyed his writing. Less a fan of horror, I thought this story was just right in mixing the unbelievable with history. Characters such as Lee Oswald and his wife, Marina, came to to life on the page. Some other historical figures that I have forgotten about or really never have been familiar with are present. Don’t worry, Oswald is the bizarre character he has always been. Since there is a 5-year time period before the event, I enjoyed the glimpse back at the world of the late 50s/early 60s, when life was simpler without the constant barrage of electronics of all sorts. However, I would not want to go back myself to those times of racism, sexism, and geographical isolation for most.
King obviously did huge amounts of research to get the story and characters just right and needs to be commended. Epping, a high school teacher in 2011, finds a job in a small town south of Dallas/Ft. Worth, while visiting the two cities numerous times to put his plan in motion. He also falls in love. The small town dynamics are so fun to read about, especially if you have experienced them for yourself. Of course, I enjoyed his travels on some of my most well-known Dallas stomping grounds. Greenville Avenue, for example, is certainly a very different place today, and is still constantly changing.
The greater part of the first section of the book was spent resolving a couple of murders that Epping became emotionally caught up in while he is still in the northeast. King’s setting of Derry, Maine, very familiar to most followers of his fiction, plays a big role in this book.
I can only highly recommend 11/22/63. Every few years, I like to visit The Sixth Floor Museum and I never fail to appreciate the hard work of the curators and the relics and displays they choose to present. I avoided going to this museum for a very long time until I was forced to take some clients there years ago. (Going to The Sixth Floor is so much better than having to cart people to Southfork Ranch.)
–Texas School Book Depository building, 2009
There are only two events that usually give me the shivers if I start reading about them: the Manson murders and the JFK assassination. And who to address the latter better than Stephen King?