Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On Authors I Said I'd Never Read

by Stephen King
New York: Scribner, 2011.

Once upon a time, I claimed that I would never read a book by Stephen King (except, maybe, his nonfiction). I have a strong aversion to having the pants scared off of me, and I have a weak enough stomach that I make my brother warn me when to avert my eyes for PG-13 movies. But one day I was minding my own business at work, reading reviews, and I happened to come along one for 11/22/63.

The premise intrigued me: Jake, a divorced guy with no kids, a high school teacher in 2011, gets a call from a buddy, who shows him a "rabbit hole" into September, 1958. His friend, who is dying and can't go back in time any longer, convinces Jake that he could change the past by preventing JFK's assassination.

Well, I thought. Time travel and history, that I can do. Then the book came in (much sooner than I expected) from the library, all 860+ pages of it. Which, of course, meant that I had to put everything aside and read it sooner rather than later, since - this being a Stephen King novel, after all - there are over 100 holds on the book in my library system. So, I jumped right in, and before I knew it I was absolutely lost in Jake's story and his trip into the past. I was more interested in some parts than others, which is only to be expected in a book this long.. The descriptions were evocative: I could really picture the dingy apartments where Jake stays, and the streets of Dallas and Derry. I can't say I always agreed with Jake's choices or point of view, but I really cared about him and other characters he meets. I didn't know much about Lee Harvey Oswald and John Kennedy's assassination, but I really want to learn more now.

My lesson is learned. I will "never say never again." I was really impressed with this story, my first foray into Stephen King's work, and (dare I say it?) not my last.

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