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11/22/63: A Novel Hardcover – November 8, 2011
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The reader feels the benefit of 40 years of narrative craftsmanship and reflection on his nation's history. Going backwards proves to be another step forward for the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature. Mark Lawson, Guardian The pages of 11.22.63 fly by, filled with immediacy, pathos and suspense. It takes great brazenness to go anywhere near this subject matter. But it takes great skill to make this story even remotely credible. Mr. King makes it all look easy, which is surely his book's fanciest trick. New York Times Stephen King at his epic, pedal-to-metal best Alison Flood, Sunday Times not just an accomplished time-travel yarn but an action-heavy meditation on chance, choice and fate. Independent Books of the Year The details of Fifties America, the cars, the clothes, the food, the televisions with wonky horizontal hold, are so vivid that you begin to wonder whether the author himself hasn't had access to a time machine. ...But as you worry at the paradoxes and the brilliantly explained pseudo science there is no denying that this monster yearn is blindingly impressive. Manly writers run out of steam as they get older. King, though, writes books that are ever longer and more demanding. I can't wait to see what he will tackle next. Daily Express Stephen King's new novel, 11.22.63, combines a variety of genres, being a JFK assassination, a story of time travel, a variation on the grail quest, a novel of voyeurism, a love story, a historical novel, a counter-factual historical novel and the chilling tale of a sinister animate universe, a form which can be traced back to the ghost stories of MR James. London Review of Books The master of the pen has written yet another extraordinary novel. Independent A wonderful book: page-turningly exciting, witty, wise, melancholic. But also utterly human, profoundly decent Ashley Pharoah, co-writer and co-creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes Take King's hand and allow him to lead you into a past so vibrant and complete that you can almost taste it. But hold on tight, the Master of Horror has now become the Master of Time ... Utterly enthralling, emotional and magical Matthew Graham, co-writer and co-creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes Fine stories to take with us into the night. Neil Gaiman in the Guardian America's greatest living novelist. Lee Child King's gift of storytelling is unrivalled. His ferocious imagination is unlimited. George Pelecanos 'King's most purely entertaining novel in years ... utterly compelling.' John Connolly on UNDER THE DOME 'Staggeringly addictive.' USA Today on UNDER THE DOME 'Tight and energetic from start to finish.' New York Times on UNDER THE DOME 'The pedal is indeed to the metal.' Guardian on UNDER THE DOME Delivers a lot of praise and enjoy. The story comes off the blocks with almost alarming speed ... he tells a story like a pro ... 11.22.63 kept me up all night. Daily Telegraph Stephen King at his epic, pedal-to-metal best Alison Flood Sunday Times, Culture,i> Perhaps only seasoned storyteller Stephen King could accomplish changing the course of history in his vast time-travelling masterpiece whilst effortlessly weaving political and social details with abundant humour. King's intriguing new story structure will surely catapult the author to another best-seller. The Australian Women's Weekly These early sections of the novel are almost irresistible entertaining, enlivened not just by King's supreme control of the form but by his sardonic wit and usual generosity of spirit and expansiveness. Yet as Jack/George moves closer to his goal, other, darker notes intrude, as time itself begins to resist his attempts to change its course, and as he begins to identify with his quarry... Beneath the reassuring glow of King's portrait of an earlier, simpler time moves a darker and less comfortable vision, a glimpse of the terrifying machinery that moves below the surface of human history, and which stands as a stark, chilling rejoinder to the fantasies of escape embodied in so many time travel stories. The Weekend Australia Mammoth but entertaining, this is part sci-fi, part suspense and part travelogue of a long-ago America. Who Weekly Stephen King is a remarkable and wonderful storyteller who never loosens his grip on the reader throughout the 750-page book. Woman's Day The novel is big, ambitious and haunting. King has probably absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation as thoroughly and imaginatively as any other writer. Mildura Midweek King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense. Daily Liberal A fascinating journey. Armidale Express Extra A delightful blend of history and fantasy by a man who has always had a soft spot for an America where men wore fedoras, drove big Fords and could do the foxtrot. A thriller by a genius writer. The Courier Mail People often complain there are no writers of the stature of Dickens anymore. I think that for pure energy and invention missed with compassion, King stands in that writer's direct line. Dickens' heir is alive and well and living in Maine. Eureka Street This is Stephen King in top and chilling form. Take 5 You have to take a leap of faith with time-travel novels, but if there's one writer who can pull it off, it's Stephen King. ... Captivating, surprisingly pacy and free from sci-fi cliche, it's no wonder the film version is already being planned. Shortlist The most remarkable story-teller in modern American literature. Mark Lawson, Guardian a powerful love story Mirror One of the strengths of the book is King's at once nostalgic and honest view of the end of the Eisenhower era. King manages to avoid both sentimentalizing the past and treating it with massive condescension; his role as the poet of American brand-names serves him well here. Independent King swiftly moves beyond vintage Americana to unfold a stunningly panoramic portrait of the era. His [King's] fascination with evil...arranges characters among clear mortal frontiers that fell meaningful rather than simplistic. King commands an inordinately fat space on the bookshelf with 11.22.63 but it's hard to begrudge when his vast imagination is working across such an epic canvas. Seven, The Sunday Telegraph 11.22.63 marks a definite maturing of literary command and ambition. The key to any novel set in an alternate reality is credible world building, the steady accumulation of detail - preferably lightly distributed - that brings the story alive. King succeeds in this, partly drawing from his own memories. Adam LeBor,FT Weekend ...This is the American of Stephen King's childhood and it's one that he re-creates in vivid and loving detail... This is a truly compulsive, addictive novel not just about time-travel or the Kennedy assassination but about recent American history and its might-have-beens, about love, and about how life 'turns on a dime'. It's a thunking 700-pager which left me only wanting more. The master storyteller in truly masterful form. Daily Mail Stephen King is up there with the best. It's a thriller, a meditation on late Fifties and early Sixties America and a love story. It creates a world you can lose yourself in. Peter Robinson in the Sunday Express He writes incomparably good stories ... King's mastery of plot and his ability to create characters and situations both homespun and far-fetched means that this is the book you dream of getting stuck on the train home with. Independent on Sunday The story moves seamlessly from detailed reality to elaborate fantasy and back again through a meticulously researched backdrop of late 1950s events, fashion and sentimentality. It is a story of temptation, sacrifice, politics, love and self-interest. It was enthralling and I loved it. Townsville Bulletin (Australia) The fictional offering that engaged me most urgently ... an extraordinarily ambitious tale. Canberra City News A suspenseful drama. New Idea (Australia Time travel and an incredible talent for storytelling combine to produce a unique tour de force. Sun A book of the year. Sun Cleverly evokes the moral dilemmas of time travel and whether a time traveller could or should prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy on 11.22.63. King also beautifully and nostalgically evokes the minutiae of American suburban life in the late 1950's. Canberra Times A fondly-felt, wryly funny, subplots-and-tangents-aplenty character study. Rip it Up (Australia) A real page-turner. Woman's Day (Australia) A fascinating read that's like an episode of Dr Who, the book leaves you with more questions than answers. Sunday Telegraph (Australia) Delivers as an affecting, suspenseful page-turner. Irish Times King has form in rendering plausible the fantastic ... 11.22.63 stakes another claim for its author to be classified as sui generis. Times Literary Supplement King's first effort at melding fact with fiction is as successful as his previous books, and perhaps even more intriguing considering the subject matter: time travel and the implications of change. A contemplative and thoughtful book as filled with heart as it is with intrigue, courtesy of one of our most gifted living writers. Australian Penthouse Legendary writer King has written another magical tome. People (Australia) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy—Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel), Finders Keepers, and End of Watch; the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams; Revival; Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination were obviously very well-researched, clear from the details in the text even before one gets to the afterword that describes some of the sources and methods used. The lead-up to the day of the assassination is described in great detail, along with Oswald's relationship to his family and associates, all matters of historical record (at least according to the sources cited by SK, with which most of the readers who did not like the novel disagreed emphatically). But I should point out that the facts concerning the Kennedy assassination are actually not the main focus of the novel.
The world of 1958-1963 is described in wonderful detail, through the eyes of Jake as he gradually sheds his early 21st century armored shell and falls in love with a small Texas town and Sadie, its new young librarian. Their love story is the centerpiece of the novel and is told with great depth, sensitivity and believability. I'm old enough to have experienced lots of the stuff that Jake encounters in 1958 (albeit as a child) and it jives with and jogs my recollections and induces a feeling of longing for older, simpler times. For King''s "Constant Readers", there are easter egg cameos from "It" and "The Langoliers" that I recognized. Knowing SK, there may well be others.
The ending is not predictable (if you say you saw it all coming you are either lying or should be a best-selling novelist) and is surprisingly satisfying. To those who say King doesn't know how to end his novels, I say, read this one.
Very Highly Recommended for all (even those who think they know but don't "like" Stephen King).
King brought all these memories to life for me in 11/22/63, the story of a man from 2011 that goes back to 1958 to try to stop the Kennedy assasination in 1963. I am a King fan and this will not take the place of my number one novel, The Stand, but it comes close. Sometimes I couldn't put it down and sometimes I couldn't go on reading because of all the memories.
Everything is in this story: romance, suspense, history, science fiction, not to mention what makes King excel over other popular writers of the day. That, in my opinion, is his ability to weave themes into a story that re-occur and tie the story together emotionally. One example from this book, "the past harmonizes." There is nothing of the supernatural here yet the function of the supernatural is replaced by the weird and intriguing idea that the past does not want to change.
Another example is the dancing theme. Dancing occurs at several points in the story and forms the thread for Sadie's words in the end, "How we danced." Even as I write this, those words cause my chest to grip.
Some say that King's biggest strength is his story telling. I disagree. King is a great story teller. Yet, his biggest strength is his ability to make us care about the characters. Even Marina Oswald, whose name is all but lost in history, comes alive to us as she struggles with being an outsider trapped in a marriage to an abusive lunatic.
Ultimately this story is a romance. Didn't someone once say that "it is always about the girl?" Jake and Sadie had me smiling and tearing up and thinking about the romances in my life, good and not so good (is romance ever really bad?). I am not a fast reader or a "long session reader". An hour at a time is my usual. But the last 200 pages or so kept me reading for most of one evening and I then stopped with 20 pages to go because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Jake and Sadie. I woke up at 4:00 AM the next morning and read the last 20 pages as well as the end material. Then my eyes water up. Sorry, I am a 61 year old guy and, unlike Jake, I do cry.
So, thanks again, Stephen for your dedication to your readers, your hard research and your imagination. I was swept away by this story.
Besides a well-developed storyline, this novel creates characters that the reader truly comes to care about. If I had to pick one outstanding aspect of this novel it would be the complex characterizations.
My review policy is to eschew spoilers, but essentially the theme of this novel is that the protagonist stumbles upon a time portal, which is a door between 2015 and 1960. He determines that the future can be improved by preventing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. How the protagonist goes about this, and the problems it entails, are one of the main themes of the story. King has researched Lee Harvey Oswald and his odd past and personality, and I can attest, having read fairly widely on the subject, that King definitely did his homework.
In my opinion this one is Stephen King's best novel to date. Highly recommended. RJB.