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11.22.63
Stephen King
Hodder & Stoughton, 740 pages

Stephen King
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, in 1947. He attended the grammar school in Durham, Maine, and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach at the high school level. He met his wife, Tabitha, in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine of Orono, where they both worked as students. Unable to find a teaching job, the couple lived on his earnings as a labourer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines. In the fall of 1971, King began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted his novel Carrie for publication. A few months later, its paperback sale provided him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.

Stephen King Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Dark Half
SF Site Review: The Tommyknockers
SF Site Review: Christine
SF Site Column: Climbing the Tower
SF Site Review: LT's Theory of Pets
SF Site Review: Dreamcatcher
SF Site Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
SF Site Review: Hearts in Atlantis
SF Site Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
SF Site Review: Bag of Bones
SF Site Review: Storm of the Century

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

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11.22.63 The premise of this book is one that may have been on people's minds for a considerable while. If you could go back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, would you? As with anything to do with time travel, there is cause and effect, consequences of any actions done by one person, and this book is about just that. The 22nd of November 1963 is one of the most famous dates in modern history, and many have pondered what they did on that day, and this will have been on Stephen King's mind too.

King has two characters in the book that are ordinary types who accomplish unusual things. Harry Dunning, a not so bright guy who gets an A+ for a story he wrote and got his Diploma as a result of it, and Al Templeton, owner of Al's Diner who discovers he can travel back in time by going down a flight of stairs in the pantry of his diner. These are both unremarkable men who have made some kind of amazing progress without first realizing it.

The idea for it is reminiscent of a UK TV series called Goodnight Sweetheart which was broadcast form 1993 through 1999 where Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst) walks down an alleyway into the 40s wartime London where he meets Phoebe Bamford (Dervla Kirwan and later Elizabeth Carling) and has an affair with her even though he already has a wife in the present day. In 11.22.63, Jacob "Jake" Epping, Harry Dunning's teacher, leads a normal life, but like most characters in King's novels, the normalcy ends all too quickly when something strange is thrown into the mix. When at the request of a dying man, he has to put aside his old life, and go back to before Kennedy was assassinated. Jake isn't the sort of person to listen to one man's wild ramblings about time travel, but he seems a level-headed sort who doesn't do anything on impulse, yet the thought of delving into the past tempts him, and also the thought of doing some good in the world makes him feel he is fighting for a cause.

Al knows he won't be around for very much longer after being diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to go back himself and save Kennedy, but his disease prevented him from doing it, and he sees Jake as his saviour, the only man he can trust to do what he couldn't in his place. His problem is he can't go and save Kennedy yet without doing a few trial runs first, and if he can, go back in time and help others who had worse lives than him.

The 50s was a time of great unrest for ethnic minorities, yet it was a great time for fashion, movie stars and music. King perfectly recreates the time making the reader feel as thought they are right back in Al's old diner sipping a root beer and taking in the sounds, smells and atmosphere of the era. As far as the story is concerned, King draws it all out over 740 pages, and keeps the reader guessing, which they won't mind a bit as they know how reliable his work is.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes loves the current sunshine and cocktails weather while she writes reviews and articles for Love Romance Passion, The British Fantasy Society, Quail Bell Magazine and Active Anime.


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