11/22/63

11/22/63

A Novel

Book - 2011
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Stephen King's #1 bestselling time-travel novel--now a limited series on Hulu starring James Franco!

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King--who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer--takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away--a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life--like Harry's, like America's in 1963--turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession--to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there's Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Scribner, 2011
ISBN: 9781451627282
1451627289
Branch Call Number: FIC King 3558ad 1

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RyMac92
Feb 14, 2018

One of King's better books in recent years. Has all the good and bad qualities of a Stephen King story: Captivating concept, tons of well-realized characters, needlessly long, and an ending that completely comes undone and makes the first 900 pages of the book nearly mute.

He does an impressive job transporting the reader back in time as well as capturing a beautiful love story in the process.

m
MaxCW26
Feb 12, 2018

Great book. Really outstanding time travel tale that left me wanting more.

s
StarGladiator
Oct 04, 2017

// On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas . . .\\
WRONG! ! ! King has done a pathetic lack of research on a most important and epochal subject [the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr., completely altered the progressive arc this country was on] and it blatantly shows throughout this poorly written fiction based upon fiction.
21 days . . . After October 11, 1963, when President Kennedy signed NSAM 263, allowing for the withdrawal of US military advisors from Vietnam, President Diem of Vietnam would be overthrown in a military coup and he and his brother would be most horrifically murdered [too gruesome for the details here] - - 21 days after that, President Kennedy would be killed in Dallas, TX, in another staged coup. And 21 days prior, during that coup in Saigon, fired CIA director, Allen Dulles, and CIA station chief in Italy, William Harvey, would meet in Dallas, TX, to set the stage for 21 days later on Nov. 22, 1963.
If only King could have written a fictionalized account based upon the truth . . .
[And for the record, far more than three shots rang out, but since those 3 or 4 Mannlicher-Carcano rifles were fired almost simultaneously, witnesses correctly identified 3 different points of origin, depending upon where they were situated, and the Secret Service agents correctly described a crossfire that day.]

w
WhidbeyIslander
Aug 23, 2017

Well written and interesting although if you think about it too closely it all falls apart. Plus, as usual, King pads the story with tons of extraneous crap that doesn't move the story along. Probably more interesting if you are old enough to have experienced 11/22/63 itself.

i
iancmac
Aug 09, 2017

This is not simply a great time-traveler's story, it is a great book and I highly recommend it. The story was extremely engaging, as was the unexpected comfort I found in Stephen King's vision of the past, and the town of Jodie in particular. I will miss spending my time with Jake, Sadie, Deke, and Miz Mimi.

d
dionyzus
Jun 26, 2017

Fantastic book! The premise pulls you right in.. what if an ordinary man could change history through time travel? And once the premise is set, King displays his gift for developing a rich cast of characters. You feel for the protagonist and also feel like you're part of the action, like watching a movie. (Speaking of which, the Hulu miniseries done in 2016 is very good too!) And as it turns out, you'll find that King has done his homework on the Kennedy assassination, and gets a lot of details right on the actual events as they happened leading up to the fateful day in 1963. This novel, which stands on its own outside of his legendary body of work, just confirms that King is one of the great storytellers of our time.

s
sandra80
Jun 08, 2017

Next to The Stand, my favorite King novel. Unlike many of Mr. King's books, this one had a great ending. Loved it start to finish.

m
magyarian94
Jun 07, 2017

Very rich in worldbuilding and a great mix of both speculative and historical fiction. There's even a return to Derry! If there's one knock it's that it drags on too long in the middle.

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loudem
Feb 06, 2017

Not much to say about this very long book. One thing's for sure, King is one hell of a story teller. Did it need to have so many pages to get his message through? Were all the descriptions and situations essential? I'm not sure, maybe. Is the fact that it's long makes it better, or clearer? I'm not convinced. But this is Stephen King, the unstoppable scribbler. And we love him just the way he is. It's just that sometime when he finishes another epic, the size of it is somewhat daunting to face. Also it's pretty heavy inside my backpack.

DBRL_KrisA Dec 19, 2016

This is my first ever read of anything by Stephen King. The premise here is that the narrator has access to a "rabbit hole", a gateway to the past. The rabbit hole always takes him back to the same day in 1958. He is convinced by a friend to go back in time and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy; since he can only go back to 1958, he has to live through the intervening five years while he waits for Oswald to arrive in Dallas, and these five years are the meat of the story.
One of the most common less-than-positive comments I've heard about this book is that it's so immense, and I do feel that there are parts of the story that were not crucial to the plot that could have been trimmed down or removed altogether. The narrator performs two "trial-runs" to see what effect his actions in the past will have on the future. While reading these parts of the book, I couldn't help feeling that, while they were interesting, they were mostly just keeping us from getting to the heart of the story.
I have a couple other issues with King's handling of certain characters - specifically, Jake's ex-wife, who is an alcoholic, and Sadie's ex-husband, who is mentally ill. But in the narrator's eyes, these aren't bad people who also happen to have these other flaws; Jake's ex-wife is a bad person because she's an alcoholic. John Clayton is a bad person because he is mentally ill. Ergo, all alcoholic women are conniving b*tches and all mentally ill persons are deranged stalker-killers.
After going to so much trouble to explore some of the characters, I was disappointed that King's portrayal of Oswald was so one-dimensional. There was no attempt to explain the reasoning Oswald employed for killing Kennedy; Oswald is just portrayed as a sociopath bent on getting the attention he felt society owed him.
I did like two concepts related to time travel that King uses well - the idea of the "obdurate past", which is the idea that the past resists being changed; the greater the change, the stronger the resistance. Coupled with that is the concept that changes to the past will have repercussions beyond the specific changed event: the "butterfly effect". While Jake thinks some of his actions are small and inconsequential, he comes to realize that, just by even being in the past, he's creating ripples of change in the future.

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