11.22.63: A Novel by Stephen King
I listened to this book on audio. I’ve got a lot of things to say about this book so get ready. There may be spoilers. You have been warned.
As a Reader: Stephen King hit the mark with this one. I was disappointed with the ending of his last couple of books so as this one neared the end of what I thought was the end of the story. I was quite wrong where the story was going to end. It kept going, and going, and going sort of like the Lord of the Rings. I loved that it didn’t just drop me and leave me wondering or have some weird/corny ending that left me miffed that I’d wasted my time.
King takes us from 2011 back to 1958 several times. Each time things are reset. When George Amberson (the character’s assumed name in the past) stays longer to prevent the assassination of JFK things get weird. There’s a long time for our main character to wait. I had a little struggle with how easily he accepted this task from a person eh didn’t know very well. This part seemed to be glossed over in favor of the person going back to a past he had never lived in. It bothered me, but only slightly.
There’s a lot of fun King had in the past. It almost felt like he was reminiscing about his boyhood. Perhaps longing for a simpler time. I’m not really sure. There are a lot of side trails along the way to stop the assassination and I really didn’t mind them. This is what King does best is to draw you into the characters life. It’s like the end of the Dark Tower. It’s not about the Dark Tower, it’s about the journey. He layers detail upon detail in a way that builds a tapestry you can believe in and learn to love. Then he yanks the rug out from under you, stand you back up, dusts you off, and does it again. Each time you curse what the characters are doing to each other and the lives they’re ruining even though this is only a book.
The end had me tear up a little I’m not ashamed to say. King has a way to get you to really care for the characters. He’s always done that, I’m sure he always will. But the ending of this book (as he mentioned in the afterward) was inspired by his son, Joe Hill, who recommended a different ending. It was a drawn out ending, but satisfying. A very enjoyable ending indeed.
As a writer: Mr. King, please stop feeling like you need to intermingle your works. Yes, you had nods to IT, Christine, and other works I’m sure I missed. Let a work stand on its own. This bothered me to no end as it only provided lines of thinking that lead no where and annoyed me to no end. As did the pie throwing scene. I read Mark Evanier’s blog and he went on and on about this. I wish Stephen King would have as it does relate to the era. One pie = funny, many pies does not equal funnier. Also, they’re not real pies. I refer you to http://www.newsfromme.com/2011/12/13/recipe-corner/ .
I really enjoy how Mr. King doesn’t just have someone go and buy a jacket or a hat, or a gun, but will take a small bit of time to explain what it is, why the character is buying it, introduce you to the person doing the selling, and spend a little time doing some things that might otherwise be considered mundane. He makes them interesting and fleshes out a story in a way that makes the world feel real. He doesn’t skimp. He doesn’t take shortcuts. He loves to drag you along before he slaps you with the reality he’s built in a real and brutal way.
Recommendations: Other than that, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Not that I was looking for things to complain about, mind you. This book was wonderful. If you read it, or listen to it as I did, you will enjoy it. Stephen King is a master at what he does. He doesn’t write horror or sci fi. Those are only trappings attached to his name. He writes stories about people. People you will like, some you will hate, some you will come to think of as real people. I’ve always liked that about his work and 11.22.63 did not disappoint. Well worthy of your time. Do pick up this book. I can’t wait to see what Mr. King has in store for us next.
Until Next Time!