Despite being a avid reader, I’d made it a rule to avoid Stephen King for some reason. I mistakenly believed I should have been reading King when I was in my teens and missed him. Now, in my late 20′s, he didn’t really speak to someone with the intellectual tastes that I fancied as my own.
When I did get around to reading his stuff, I started with the first book of the Dark Tower series, which holds the distinction of the only book I’ve quit in the last several years. After reading King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman for a book club, I was certain I was done with King for all intents and purposes.
Yet, as someone who is interested in the JFK assassination, King’s latest offering, 11/22/63: A Novel, caught my eye.
11/22/63 is the story of Jake Epping, who is able to travel back in time to right the wrongs of that terrible day in November. The wormhole he has located takes him back to 1958. He must live in the past until ’63, where he intends to stop JFK’s assassination.
Epping runs into some of the trappings you would expect due to time travel, but the book also works as a meditation on fate, love and the nature of redemption.
Epping quickly learns that the past is harmonious and does not want to be changed. His quest is harder than he or the reader ever would imagine. 11/22/63 both glorifies the past and questions it, resulting in a terrific book.
King’s voluminous tome contains the things I expected from one of his novels, time-travel, mysterious strangers and incalculable mysteries. It also included things I hadn’t expected from my previous forays into his work, mainly a heartfelt, moving story, fully realized characters and thought-provoking subject matter.
I guess I missed the boat on King’s best stuff, but 11/22/63 gives me ample reason to dig back into his catalog.
There is something so comforting about getting 100 pages into a long book and realizing I love it. Something warm about knowing the main character’s quest is just beginning and they’ll be with me for a while. At over 850-pages, that feeling came early, and I am truly grateful this book found its way into my hands.