Stephen King is a master storyteller. We all know this. So I should not have been surprised to have been swept away from the get go and taken to the Land of Ago, but I was. I was! I walked with Jake Epping through the 50s and 60s and into my own past.
11/22/63 as the title implies is a story centered on one, of the far too many, watershed moments of our lives: the assassination of John F Kennedy. Jake Epping, a middle aged high school teacher reads a story by one of his adult students, a gruesome, heart wrenching, true story, that brings him to tears, not a common response; no wait an extremely rare, response from Jake. Shortly thereafter Jake receives a call from a local diner owner, who has a portal to the past to show him and a story to tell. He also has cancer and is enlisting Jake to act on his behalf, go back in time and save John F. Kennedy. But this is King, so there are rules, and Jake now has his own little bit of history that he would like to see changed.
I was taken on a journey by the King’s own hand, held captive from cover to cover. And beyond! I’m not going to go in to this story. If you want a fantastic experience read it for yourselves, because it is King’s story that you need to hear. Let me just say that in his masterful hands you are transported in time to the late 50’s, early 60’s and that he is spot on! Everything is slower, simpler, a time of Glenn Miller and swing, with 59 Chevy’s and fins that went on forever! Cleaner air, unpreserved, delicious home cooking, friendly, trusting people, no cell phones, pre –Vietnam America! Camelot! Of course there is the other side of this era, from which King does not shy away: racism, domestic violence, cold wars and every ounce of oxygen polluted with first and second hand smoke. The Land of Ago born again: festering wounds and scabs intact.
What if you could go back in time and change the course of history, prevent one of those watershed moments of your own from ever happening? Would you? And if you did, what new history would take its place? As King shows us the past is obdurate, it does not want to change.
For me, this is that watershed moment. I remember everything about the day that JFK was assassinated; where I was, what I was doing, wearing, eating and thinking throughout the course of this historic day, even though I was still but a mere child. Ever since then I have wondered, on and off, many times, over the years, what life would be like if JKF had survived.
11/22/63 has now become my new all time favourite Stephen King book! It has reawakened in me everything that I have always loved about King’s stories. I need more, no doubt about that. So I have physically cleared a spot for 11/22/63 on my top shelf. No doubt it will dwell there for a long, long time.
In the end all you really need to know is: Read It! Read It! Read It!!