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11-22-63: A Novel Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

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 listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a 35-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 50 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.

©2011 Stephen King. All Rights Reserved. (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc

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1,007 of 1,046 people found the following review helpful By James Tepper VINE VOICE on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"11/22/63", Stephen King's latest, might just be his greatest. Seriously. At least as far as "mainstream" fiction or "literature" goes. Yes, it is built around a well-used SF trope, time travel, but really, the portal to the past that Jake Epping is shown in the back of an aluminum diner is only the launch mechanism for this fantastic journey. There are no monsters here, at least none that aren't human, and little or no horror in the supernatural sense that King's constant readers have come to know, love and expect. Even SK's other "straight" fiction, "Misery", "Dolores Claiborne" and "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" come to mind, had elements of the supernatural and/or flat-out horror. Not this time.

But that doesn't mean that 11/22/63 is boring. Quite the contrary. Although it might seem that it would be tough to build suspense around a conclusion that seems to be inevitable, this turns out not to be the case. Big time. I just finished playing hooky from work for a day when I read the last 400 pages non-stop (except for a couple of bathroom breaks), because I just couldn't stop. I just kept pressing the advance button on my Kindle.

The adjective that first comes to mind in describing 11/22/63 among SK's oeuvre is, oddly enough, "mature". I have read every novel and anthology that King has published, plus a large number of single short stories, starting with "Carrie" in a borrowed paperback back in the late 1970s. I have never before thought of describing his work in any of them, many good, some great and a few clunkers (some of which I have reviewed as such), as mature. But that is the first, best word that comes to mind in describing 11/22/63. There were others too; exciting, romantic, bittersweet and, as with all SK's stuff, well-written.
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1,613 of 1,731 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Stephen King started publishing books around roughly the same time I started reading them. It was the mid 70s, and I was a precocious young thing. I was fearless, and man I loved what he was writing! I haven't read nearly all of his novels in the decades since, but enough to have a pretty good familiarity with the universe that his works share. Now entering my more fearful middle age, I can tell you there is, oddly, something deeply comforting about submerging myself again in his rich, folksy world where heroes ARE heroic, all stories come full circle, and pretty much all nagging questions are eventually put to rest.

The hero of 11/22/63 is Jake Epping, and early on in this novel he is presented with something inconceivable, a sort of wormhole in time. It leads from 2011 Maine to September 9, 1958. You can visit the past for as long as you like--years even--but when you return to the present it's always exactly two minutes later. Every subsequent visit is a "reset." You can change the past (and consequently the present), but as Jake learns, "the past is obdurate." It resists.

There's more to the set-up, of course, but that's all you really need to know. Because with this portal to the past, Jake is set on a mission that would probably be the goal of most every person of a certain age--to stop the Kennedy assassination. I don't think it resonates quite so strongly with those of us who weren't around to remember Camelot, but, sure, 11/22/63 was one of the most pivotal days in this nation's history. It's a day that surely scarred the psyche of every American who remembers it.

For long-time readers like myself, there are some wonderful Easter eggs to be found in 11/22/63, tying back to past novels, and probably to future ones as well.
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763 of 828 people found the following review helpful By William E. Liberatore VINE VOICE on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read about this book a few months ago. While I am a fan of Stephen King, I'm not a huge fan. I don't typically buy his books the day they are released, but when I read the premise for this one I just thought that it was a really neat idea and I couldn't wait for it to be released so that I could read it. Then I got a little nervous about it. From the time I read the teaser I thought that there were so many interesting directions that someone could take this story, but what if it tanks? That's always the pitfall of a really neat idea... what if it fails to really bloom like you think it could? But this is Stephen King. For my review, I'd like to establish that I was born almost 7 years after JFK died. I am not a JFK scholar and I did not read this book trying to hyper-analyze the historical accuracy of the book. I took it as a fictional exploration of a historical event produced not to answer any historical questions but just to entertain and provoke thought. I feel it was very successful on both points. My fears that Stephen King was going to take a great idea and go nowhere with it were definitely unfounded. He also works in all his usual Stephen King "givens"... the story starts in Maine. We even get to "visit" a couple of characters from other Stephen King books and the town of Derry, though the majority of the book is set in Texas of course. On the whole I usually review books based on how well spent I feel my time was in reading it and I am in no way disappointed in this one. If you buy the book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and thank you for taking the time to read my review.
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