Last evening I finished reading “11/22/63“ by Stephen King. This is a book that I was excited to read since its publication, because not am I a fan of the author, but as well because I have an unusually clear memory of this incident in history. Additionally, I was aware of our country’s confrontation with Cuba and the threat of nuclear attack on American soil and of the Civil Rights Movement, of which both Mr. King refers to in this novel.
With this story, Mr. King does a fine job of combining the genres of Science Fiction, Horror, and Historical Fiction. His research for the story was obviously extensive and his description was thorough. He takes into account not only the monetary and technological differences between the late 1950s and early 1960s, he additionally takes into account the social and political climate of those years along with the differences of these aspects between the Northern and Southern areas of the United States. He also delves into other historical events and even profiles Lee Harvey Oswald life and personality years before his ultimate and horrific act that stunned our country and dissolved our young people’s innocence and complacency. I cannot speak, of course, for everyone of my generation; however, for me that one act of violence and subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby forever changed my view of the world, and in turn influenced who I am as a person. Ultimately, not only did this incident in history change my view but also many individual’s view and as well as our country and the world. In his very riveting story, Mr. King through the lives and experiences of his characters addresses the question of how not only the world would change but also, how individual lives would change without certain incidents and experiences taking place.
In his novel, Mr. King’s main character Jake Ebbing alias George Amberson, travels back in time through a time portal that only he and the owner of a local diner Al Templeton, have knowledge. The portal takes the time Jake/George to an exact point in time September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a. m. No matter the amount of time he spends in the past whether an hour or five years, when he returns through the portal only two minutes pass in present time. Whatever changes he makes in the past, whether a major incident or anything that seems inconsequential, remains as a change in the past and impacts the future, either on an accordingly micro or macro scale, or changes an individual’s life or the entire universe. Jake/George learns from Al that if he never again takes another trip through the portal then history remains fixed to whatever changes the he make to the past. However, if he uses the portal again, all the changes on previous excursions void out and the future and is the same as it was originally. Another drawback Jake/George experiences is his aging process in that while only two minutes pass in real time, he ages for time he spent in the past.
Additionally, Jake/George soon learns that changing the past does not always produce the intended outcome and that every time he attempts to change something he experiences dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, obstacles. Jake/George recognizes this as a foe and as a living entity referring to it as the “obdurate” past. His adventures span five years in which he not only focuses on stopping the President’s assassin he also comes to make many friends and finds his true love, Sadie Dunhill. At one point, in Jake/George’s travels he comes to the fictional town of Derry, Maine where he meets two characters, Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh from King’s previous novel “It”. The two teenagers seem to realize that Jake/George is not of their world and in turn, Jake/George feels the evil cloud that seems to cover the town. I liked this reference and as Stephen King fan, I am inclined to want to read “It” again.
I will not say anymore about the story here in this review, as I do not want to give away too much information to those who have not and wish to read the book. I do highly recommend this book to both those who are fans of Stephen King and those who are not. It does have its horror and well-described bloody violence, yet this is expected as referenced by the date in history for which the book is titled.
Thanks for reading… ~Yvonne~