Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 20: Stephen King Rewrites History

Welcome to Day 20 in our 24 Days of Books. So much good fiction has been published this year that it’s hard to pick just one or even five favorites, and I won’t try to do that here. I tend to agree with Neil Gaiman, who said "Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you'd most like not to lose." Besides, who has the time to read every single one? There are novelists who write faster than I can read (I’m lookin’ at you, Joyce Carol Oates). I’m exhausted just looking at the array of choices on our “new fiction” table.

And now I will risk my literary street cred by asking everyone to take an unbiased look at Stephen King. We’ll just yadda yadda our way through the arguments – pro and con – concerning this author and his books, and jump right into his latest novel, 11/22/63, which currently sits on top of the bestseller lists, and for good reason.

This reimagining of the events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is an engrossing read. Stephen King is, in the opinion of many, the author who has “absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer” and as such is supremely equipped to tackle this subject. In almost 850 pages, he gives us an incredible (yet totally believable) journey back in time and the possibility of altering world history.

The protagonist of King’s story is Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher who is given an extraordinary opportunity by his friend Al, who reveals to Jake that the storeroom in his diner is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. Al invites Jake to take over the mission of time traveling back to 1958 and preventing one of this generation’s most famous and devastating crimes.

And so begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a world of Ike and JFK and big American cars and Elvis. His travels lead him from Derry, Maine to Dallas, Texas, where he is the one man who knows what will happen and is rushing headlong into the past in order to change the future.

Stephen King is one of the most entertaining writers working today. This book captures the baby boomer’s generational zeitgeist like no other has. If you are looking for a big, fat page-turner that will completely absorb you for a large chunk of time, look no further.

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