Monday, November 26, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King


I haven't read a Stephen King book in a couple decades. 11/22/63 reminded me why I used to read King’s books as soon as they were published ... and why I quit reading them. King is a good writer, has a great imagination, knows how to pen an engrossing story, but is exhaustingly verbose. I wanted to make a little circling motion with my finger to tell him to hurry up, but of course he wasn't in the room to see it.

Fiction writers have the unique ability to bend time. We can do what we want because it’s our world. We make it up. The premise of 11/22/63 is that our intrepid hero discovers a time portal that takes him back to 1958. After a quick touristic holiday, he decides to go back to 1958 and wait until November 22, 1963 in order to save John F. Kennedy. King proceeds to tell us everything that happens in the intervening five years. Why? It was King’s decision to have the portal go to 1958. He could have chosen 1961 or 1962. I think he just loves to write.

That aside, this is a well told story. I like time travel because they are basically fish-out-of-water tales. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur'sCourt by Mark Twain is the apex of the genre. 11/22/63 may have been overly long (880 pages in paperback), but it was still a fun read with some creative twists on time travel. I didn't agree with his speculations about altered history, but they didn't interfere with the story. If you like to be immersed in Stephen King’s world, you can have an extended stay with 11/22/63.

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