11/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What surprised me about this book is not that it is over 800 pages long but that I never got bored. It was 853 pages of a fascinating and very well researched book. I can't begin to imagine what an undertaking this project would be. Let me cover the bases of different aspects.
First, there is the paranormal aspect. Jake time travels and ages in the other time at a normal rate. Yet he always returns exactly two minutes later in this time line. Also, there is the fact that every time through the hole starts at the same time in 1958. Given that this is Stephen King, whose imagination far exceeds a normal man's, the paranormal is pretty inventive.
The second layer of the paranormal is that the past is obdurate. I had to look that one up, too. It fights the person trying to change it. And it harmonizes. The harmony is creative, fascinating and consistent. It is the consistency that impressed me.
The intricate details of Lee Harvey Oswald and those around him was incredibly well researched. Jake had to be at least 98% certain there was only one man behind the shooting. This turns him into a spy with rudimentary equipment yet he is able to seek out what he needs in a world entering electronics via a transistor radio. Also, politics are very important in all of the decisions. I was born in the Cold War and knew nothing of politics except that Russia would someday nuke us or us them. I did not know JFK's or LBJ's policies beyond the Cuban crisis. With very little lecturing, my basic understanding became sufficient to comprehend the ramifications of life with or without JFK.
The most compelling aspect of the book that connects it all is the story of Jake alias George and how he kills the five years between 1958 and the title. Who knew that King could write a love story? It is sweet and imperfect and simple and complicated. And I loved it. With all the mores of the times including segregation, I still enjoyed the view of 1958.
I must say a few words on the irony that I caught, which was not all of it, mind you. George is working on a book about an evil clown that murders children in a town called Derry. King ghost writes his own book into his fiction. Gruesome and hilarious. And irony that harmonizes for personal reasons, why not George Wallace? If not for him driving past one crooked cop roughing up one Civil Rights activist one November day, I may have grown up fatherless.
I found the story engrossing. Be aware that it contains violence, strong swear words and offensive language. Much of the offensive language is my direct referral to politically incorrect phrases. We are products of our times.
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