Apparently, time travel would not be all fun and games. In Stephen King’s new novel 11/22/63 a high school teacher from 2011 finds out that even the slightest conversation has the power to wipe the slate of history clean (DUN DUN DUNNN). I’ve never read anything by Stephen King before and have since been able to get my head around why he’s one of the most successful writers of all time. The dude is not overrated at all. Has anyone ever referred to Stephen King as “dude?”
Here, King is too busy with the Kennedy assassination to get into anything like obsessive fans or haunted hotels. Apparently horror isn’t his only strength. 11/22/63 is totally believable, you know, considering it’s about going back in time. He describes welcoming midcentury smalls towns with a creepy undertone that doesn’t let up through the whole book.
There were almost no instances where I knew what to expect next, whether in a short-term dilemma or the overall story arc. Most stories grant the audience a certain (usually generous) amount of predictability. There isn’t much meat to the main character but Lee Harvey Oswald’s description gave me goose bumps.
The amount of suspense King was able to inject to such a well tread story is astonishing. His main character, Jake Epping, is more of a nerd than Marty McFly and struggles with the amount of responsibility on his shoulders. Which makes so much sense. Someone who travels in time to stop an assassination attempt would have to be smart as well as unassuming. Epping goes back in time to the exact same moment in 1958, five years before he has to thwart Oswald. It was hard not to doubt that device but the same questions that lurked were the ones that roped me in. I wondered how a divorced English teacher would kill five years in a totally different world.
By nature I constantly try to poke holes in stories (Why doesn’t he go after Oswald now and save some serious time? Why do I care about this love story?) but when story reached its climax and explained the loose ends I had to put my life on hold. It’s one of those books, like a great movie, where everything in my own life reminds me of the novel. I’ve even been careful in my own conversations, worried about how it will affect JFK.