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Review of Stephen King’s 11.22.63

Mark Lawson reviews Stephen King’s latest book in The Guardian. Sadly, it has a rubbish title that’s right up with It in terms of naming nonsense. 11.22.63 is King’s take on the assassination of US president John F Kennedy.

People are commonly said to remember their location when told of President John F Kennedy’s assassination, but many must also wish the place they had been on 22 November 1963 was Dallas, where they might somehow have diverted the motorcade or prevented Lee Harvey Oswald from entering the Texas School Book Depository. The possibility of such an intervention must number, along with its darker twin of going back and killing Hitler, among the principal fantasies of time travel, and is explored in the 54th work of fiction by Stephen King.

The blurb about the book goes something like this….Jake Epping is a 35-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students – a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. (We have one of those in the AbeBooks storage room where we keep old bookmarks and the Santa costume.)

He enlists Jake on an insane – and insanely possible – mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

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