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Is King Up to Time Travel Challenge?

©2011 Simon & Schuster.

Stephen King set his fandom abuzz earlier this month with the announcement that his new novel 11/22/63 will be released on November 8th. The plot of the 1,000 page epic follows Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, through a portal in his friend Al’s storeroom into the year 1958. Al sends Jake on a mission to change history by preventing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As he settles into a culture of sock hops and Elvis under the name George Amberson, he falls for Sadie Dunhill, a lovely librarian, and encounters disturbed loner Lee Harvey Oswald. The premise of time travel in a novel is not new, but some fans question whether or not King can approach this device in an interesting, yet believable, way. “Time travel, though – even when it’s done brilliantly by Kim Stanley Robinson in Galileo’s Dream, even when it’s done humorously by Tim Powers in The Anubis Gates – sends me a bit mad. It Just Doesn’t Add Up and it messes with my mind,” writes Alison Flood in a post for The Guardian‘s Blog.

“So I’m somewhat concerned to learn that Stephen King, up there as one of my favourite authors…is planning to tackle the subject in his forthcoming novel, 11/22/63…The plot sounds a little loopy, to be honest,” she continues.

Having voiced her concerns, Flood does go on to concede that “if anyone can pull it off, King can.” She also freely admits that her doubts about the plot will not deter her from reading the book. “Of course I’ll be reading it…I shall look forward to what I am sure will be an evocative picture of 1960s America – King is always excellent at the small details, the little things that bring everyday America to life.”

What say you, Constant Readers? Will 11/22/63 be another must read for you, or does the time travel plot make you want to skip it all together?

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  1. Russ I.
    November 4th, 2011 at 20:27 | #1

    I have never read any of Stephen King’s novels but this one seems fascinating. I am I intrigued by how he set the story up. I am also a history buff. I remember exactly the time (and where I was) when JFK was shot. It was a bleak moment. Many people were in shock and crying; it was as if the day stood still on that 22nd day of Nov. 1963. Many people are talking about the book right now because it is going to come out in a few days (as you have stated in your piece). I heard the book is around 700 pages. I’ll probably need to bring a dolly with me when I pick up the book at B&N!

    • November 7th, 2011 at 18:41 | #2

      Thank you for sharing your memories of one of our darkest days in American history. This may be a good intro to the work of Stephen King for anyone who may have been turned off by the supernatural gore in his earlier books. Aside from the time travel plot device, there are no fantastical elements like vampires, possessed cars or homicidal clowns. Early reviews have praised King for his detailed research of historical events and figures, and he even consulted Richard and Doris Kearns Goodwin on certain plot points. But this is Stephen King, so be prepared for a fair amount of violence and very liberal and creative uses of profanity. I am really looking forward to reading this book, but for those used to more urbane reading, you may want to peruse the first few pages before you buy, to make sure the narrative style is to your liking.

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