Even if my book club hadn’t chosen Stephen King’s mammoth time-travel saga 11/22/63 for today’s meeting, I probably would’ve read it, just to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the assassination.
Buy into the basic concept that English teacher Jake Epping can walk through a portal in the storage room of Al’s Diner and emerge in 1958, and you will be sucked into this book. Jake is an eminently likeable character, and the first-person narration gets us into his view of things.
Real life details like the taste of a root beer in 1958, or the way the clerk scrapes away excess foam with a wooden spatula before topping up the drink, give you the impression you’re right there. The roomy cars, the corny expressions, the neighborly countenances, the ridiculously low prices all make this era seem like a paradise to Jake.
Until the mission he is on starts to bite back. He starts small, changing bits of history that have a personal connection, then travels back to 2011 (the present) to evaluate the results. The book makes it clear that unintended consequences will flourish and multiply when folks like Jake go messing around in the past. Enough of the consequences appear to weigh out as positive to convince him to return through the portal once more for the big one.
Going into the past, you see, according to the rules of 11/22/63, cause a complete reset. Before Jake can tackle the big mission, he has to go back again and mess with the smaller personal events he’s already messed with once before.
Ultimately he arrives in the South with the objective of figuring out a way to undo Kennedy’s assassination. His travels take him through the Florida of 1958, New Orleans and into Texas. After spending time in Dallas and Fort Worth, he settles in a little town south of Dallas, where he takes a job as a high school teacher.
Zapped with a love-ray at a party, Jake falls in love with Sadie, a new arrival in the small town. Their quaint romance helps balance the more concept-heavy ruminations in the book.
Every chapter brings a new surprise, as the past fights against Jake’s attempts to change it. If you’ve only read Stephen King’s horror novels, you’re missing something. 11/22/63 has aspects of thriller, romance and fantasy all in one big book. I recommend the book.
Left alone, the assassination of JFK yielded the world we know now. What would our world look like today if he hadn’t been gunned down that November day? We’ll never know for sure, but Stephen King presents one scenario in 11/22/63 that you’ll definitely want to consider.
Zwei is the German word for two, and it takes 2 to tango, right?
Why are we talking about fighting?
I saw this blissful scene on the Rhine River yesterday. Two swans going about their business.
Even if you don’t like quaint and beautiful river scenes, the sight of two swans has a relaxing effect. Mating for life, and all that, right?
Bull Terrier, enter left. The dog went in the water up to his knees, barking. I could see how he wanted to sink his teeth into that swan’s long, slender neck.
Even though you can’t see it or hear it here, that swan hissed like a cat. If you’ve never heard a swan hissing, it sounded like that thhffffffft! when you open a new bottle of soda.
Like the never-ending flow of the river itself, the conflict ended in a mellow way. The dog was called off by its owner as the swans drifted further downriver.
Sunshine. The sun feels so good on my back, sitting on my balcony or walking.
Trips. I like to take trips in fall when the sights aren’t quite so crowded with tourists like me. Last fall I visited Eastern France and Istanbul. Not sure where my path will take me this fall!
All those Fall colors. Those symphonies of red and yellow and purple out over the hills look almost like painted scenery.
Random feelings of nostalgia. Fall makes me think of old times, the places of my childhood.
Kickoffs. When the Bears are on again, you might find me in front of the TV.
Escapes. I like to take walks, and the fall weather is perfect for a good walk.
Frost in the air. You know the heat and humidity of summer are finally banished.
Recipes. Baked lasagna or au gratin potatoes or stuffed baked acorn squash are back in style, after having kept the oven off all summer.
Autumn leaves. Raking leaves up into massive piles and then playing in them.
Understanding new beginnings. Maybe it goes back to when school started and I could see my friends again. Fall seems like a time of new beginnings.
Which season do you like best, and why?