Sunday, May 19, 2013

11/22/63 Stephen King

For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark

Jake Epping is your run-of-the-mill, divorced and disillusioned high school English teacher (Chris?) in a small Maine town before he found the "rabbit hole."  The "rabbit hole" is "bubble" in space-time that allows a person to be transported to September 9th, 1958. Al  Templelton, who owns the burger joint where the rabbit hole is located, introduces Jake to the hole just before he dies. He has only one wish for Jake - stop the assassination of JFK.

Jake, feeling obligated to his dead acquaintance, takes on this task but has to feel out the past first. He goes in a few times for test-runs and eventually commits to the 5 years needed to stop Lee Harvey Oswald. Jake has to wait 5 years because he has to make sure Lee Harvey was responsible for Kennedy's murder (spoiler alert - he is). The strength of the book is not really the story, its plain, slow and boring. The book is around 900 pages, and the reader will space out during most of those pages (and not miss much). The main themes of the book - that the past repeats and is "obdurate" - also inevitably leads to mindless repetition. That does not mean, however, the book is all bad.  King's talent really shows during the tense moments of action in this book.  Also, his portrayal of the 60s is quite interesting, especially Jake's difficulty to adapt to the times.  Overall, if you have a really long plane ride, and a  week's vacation at a beach, maybe you should consider tackling this book (not if you are trying to, for example, get to 50 books...). 

1 comment:

billy said...

I disagree; I did not find it slow or boring. Sure, it takes awhile to get to the eponymous date, but I think one of King's strengths is that his writing is just pleasant to read, which is why I keep coming back to him