This Blog is Dedicated to our dear friend Karen.
When she left this life she left a hole in our hearts as well as several to be read books.
We, her friends, will read these books for her.
This blog will be a sort of book club for us to post our thoughts and feelings about the stories and feelings we have of Karen while we read.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
11/22/63 by Stephen King "Currently Reading"
As I've mentioned before, this is my first ever read of anything by Stephen King. My sister passed recently, and a group of us are reading her to-read list as a tribute to her. Her list had lots of Beverly Lewis and Jodi Picoult, a couple pages of James Patterson, and a few gems - mostly things I'd recommended to her. ;) Everyone else in the group either had read this already, or was put off by the sheer size of the book, so I was nominated to read it. Ironically, since I'm a huge fan of historical and speculative fiction, this was right up my alley.
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 and 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.