11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

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11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Fievel on Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:06 am

I listened to this during my Michigan-to-Arizona road trip last week. I didn't finish it yet - still have about a third of the book to go, but wanted to post some thoughts.

This is Stephen King's latest novel. It's a story about an English teacher (in 2011) who is shown a doorway that leads back to the same geographical area (small town in Maine) but in 1958. When the person returns to 2011, only two minutes have passed in the present. If the person goes through the door again, they'll go back to the same spot in time, but anything they did to change the future will be undone - it acts as a "reset" of sorts. The man that shows him this door convinces him to go back to 1958, live in the past until 1963, and then prevent JFK from being assassinated.

So far I'm absolutely loving the book. I'm a Stephen King fan, so I'll easily admit some bias coming into it. But this book is really unlike anything I've read of his. The book caused me to scream out "NO!!!" as I was listening to it on the highway when it detailed the graphic murder of a child - no book/audiobook has ever prompted a reaction from me like that. And thankfully, King finds a way to make it worth the reader having to experience that. Now the book is in what some may consider a "lull" as the main character waits for time to pass, but I'm enjoying this part - he's watching Lee Harvey Oswald and his family. Having a person from our present go back and watch this family is absolutely fascinating to me. Events in history from the time weave their way into the story to add great detail (the Cuban Missile Crisis and its effect on people for instance).

I made really good time on my trip and was on the phone more than I should have been, thus causing me to not finish the book as I had intended. It may be a while before I finish it. Hopefully the ending is good.

Oh, and one final thought - I have no idea what genre this book would fall under. It's all over the place in that aspect, and I thoroughly enjoy that aspect as well.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:19 pm

just started reading this. man, this book is definitely a door-stopper. not quite as long as Under the Dome, but certainly more ammo for the "King needs an editor" critics. i just hope it's better than UtD was... that book really kinda stunk. i'm a bit wary of another long wade that ends up in disappointment, but i'm a sucker for these "travel back in time, try to change the future" types of stories. just a few pages in, also, the premise and the tone are reminding me a bit of one of my favorite King books, The Dead Zone... again, a schoolteacher who tries to change a future that somehow involves a politician.

between this and UtD, it's interesting how King's books seem to be leaning away from horror and more to sci-fi lately.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Fievel on Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:07 pm

One thing about King's writing that grates on my nerves is his lack of understanding of generations younger than him. Maybe it's a regional thing, but he has characters say things that people in real life don't say, and haven't said since the 50's. I'm thinking back to the skateboarders in Under the Dome for another recent example. The main character here in 11/22/63 is my age (either exactly or off by a year) and he gives this guy a bizarre appreciation of 50's rock & roll/rock-a-billy music that don't know anyone my age has. But on top of that, the things this guy says from time to time are just not of my generation, but rather King's. I just wish he'd talk to a couple people around the age of his characters (young and old) and have them either proofread the dialogue, or just ask them what they might say in a given situation.

TheBaxter wrote:between this and UtD, it's interesting how King's books seem to be leaning away from horror and more to sci-fi lately.


Yeah, I thought that too. Not really a complaint on my end, but rather an interesting observation.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Bloo on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:45 pm

I really enjoyed this. It grabbed my attention and I read it in about 2 days. I don't remember how old the teacher was, I just assumed he was "older then me" LOL (btw I'm 35)
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby TheBaxter on Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:54 pm

Fievel wrote:One thing about King's writing that grates on my nerves is his lack of understanding of generations younger than him. Maybe it's a regional thing, but he has characters say things that people in real life don't say, and haven't said since the 50's. I'm thinking back to the skateboarders in Under the Dome for another recent example. The main character here in 11/22/63 is my age (either exactly or off by a year) and he gives this guy a bizarre appreciation of 50's rock & roll/rock-a-billy music that don't know anyone my age has. But on top of that, the things this guy says from time to time are just not of my generation, but rather King's. I just wish he'd talk to a couple people around the age of his characters (young and old) and have them either proofread the dialogue, or just ask them what they might say in a given situation.


"Beep-beep, Richie."

King's dialogue has always been a little... off. he seems to think having a character repeat a line or catchphrase in a book is somehow a defining character trait. most of the time it's just grating, like that particular character from a book i really like but who's dumb dialogue i had forgotten about until reading this book.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Fievel on Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:06 am

TheBaxter wrote:"Beep-beep, Richie."

King's dialogue has always been a little... off. he seems to think having a character repeat a line or catchphrase in a book is somehow a defining character trait. most of the time it's just grating, like that particular character from a book i really like but who's dumb dialogue i had forgotten about until reading this book.


When the story went to Derry, I kind of smiled.... then the references to the dead children came.... and then he came upon those two practicing dancing*... I was like "ohmygosh! ohmygosh! It's them! It's them!"... and then I realized I said "it" twice and laughed... and then I realized I was talking out loud to myself and became embarrassed and wet myself. His connections to other stories are always interesting, and connecting to It connects to the Dark Tower series, which has a new chapter coming out next year... it's all cyclical.... like a wheel.... ka. Yes, I felt clever when I typed that last bit. Now? Not so much.

I've lost my iPod and my listening has been indefinitely put on hold. :x I'm at the part where he's following Oswald prior to the anticipated attempt on the General's life.

*That happened the first time around, didn't it? What I'm getting at is that he didn't "reteach" them how to dance so instead they still sucked, right? :lol:
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Bloo on Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:10 am

LOL okay I'm glad I'm not the only one that "geeked" out a little when he went to Derry
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby TheBaxter on Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:16 am

i was wondering how far he'd go with that when he got to Derry. i was expecting maybe a couple casual references. i wasn't expecting to see Richie and Bev. it was pretty cool... though it got less cool as soon as Richie Tozier opened his mouth. damn King and his hokey dialogue.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:07 am

finished reading it this past weekend. it's definitely a big improvement over Under the Dome. turned out to be a pretty darn good book, though like most of King's recent novels, it could have benefitted from some trimming. it does remind me of the Dead Zone, not just the idea of a guy who knows the future and tries to change it, but the sense of impending tragedy throughout the book. towards the end it also started to remind me of Pet Sematary but then it pulls back and goes in a different direction and actually ends up being a bit uplifting at the end. those are two of my favorite King books, so that's pretty high praise from me, but again, the lack of editing, and the fact that those two books ended in a much darker, more tragic and downbeat manner, and this one went for a more life-affirming ending meant those two appealed to me more, but i appreciate King's efforts to try something a bit different. or maybe he's just going soft/Spielberg with age.

the reason i liked this so much better than the UtD, besides being a more satisfying story with a much better ending, was that the characters and the dialogue were not nearly as atrocious. it's almost hard to believe the same guy wrote both these books, though the excessive length would be a clue. UtD had a much larger cast of characters, whereas there are really just 2 main characters in this book, but the UtD characters, both major and minor, mostly seemed like a collection of quirks and cliches and stereotypes. the characters in 11/22/63, even the minor ones, felt much more fleshed out and real. and while there is some hokey dialogue in both books, it's far more in abundance in UtD. this book really reminded me of how much that book sucked, but i'm glad i gave it a chance, it's one of King's better books of recent years.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Fievel on Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:08 pm

Finally finished it (audiobook).

I thought it was a great story and a lot of fun to listen to. As much fun as it was having the Oswald/Kennedy events unfold, I was also very interested in hearing about the post-nuclear Lisbon Falls. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more in that "era," but I full realize that there didn't need to be any more. It was probably hard for King to NOT explore that era any further. As for the ending, I thought it was okay. It was far from the worst, but I think King could have ended it a little bit earlier.

The hardest part for me in the book was when Frank Dunning killed his son with the sledgehammer. It was horribly graphic. The audiobook's narrator does a great job with the story and during that scene he was crying as he read it - an extremely effective action on the narrator's part. So when Jake went back and killed Frank in the cemetery, I found that extremely satisfying as it gave some perspective as to how evil Frank's actions would be on that upcoming Halloween night.

So when Jake went back through again and reset the timeline at the end, I was disappointed because I knew what would happen to Harry and his family. Yes, the readers are made aware of what changes to the past cause to happen in the future, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Loved the subtle Dark Tower connections - Derry, the use of the number 19 in larger numbers whose components add up to 19 (impossible to hear a number in a King story now and NOT add the numbers). The concept of the different "worlds" being on strings seems very DT-ish.

Edit - forgot another Dark Tower link - when Jake goes to the "modern" Lisbon Falls where Kennedy lived, he spots a Takuro Spirit - a brand of car first mentioned in Wizard & Glass.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:42 am

so who will be going back to 1963 to save JFK in Hulu's (Hulu!?1?!? fuck shit. this better come to blu-ray soon after, cuz Hulu sucks) miniseries? here's a hint: i'd give my right arm to have a different actor cast in this role

this part also worries me:

It has not yet been determined whether or not the series will eventually continue beyond its first nine episodes.


uhh. this is not exactly a book that lends itself to a sequel/ongoing series. if they try to turn it into a Quantum Leap reboot, it will be ugly. don't Under the Dome this thing, you bastards. commit to a one season run and do it right.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Ribbons on Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:44 pm

Yeah, stretching a novel like this out can only lead to disaster. Then again, Under the Dome does well in the ratings, so maybe they want that.
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Re: 11/22/63 (Stephen King novel)

Postby Fievel on Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:24 am

I took the quoted line to mean that the writers of the article don't know if it's going to follow the same ongoing format that Under the Dome ultimately did - versus the 11/22/63 showrunners not knowing. Hopefully that's the case. I can't see Franco wanting to tie up so much time on an ongoing project, and I can't see how this story would serve once the events take place.

There was a severe dropoff in Under the Dome ratings for their second season, so if 11/22/63 is considering that format, hopefully the lesson will be learned.

Having said all that, I'm just happy to see the project come to light. I really enjoyed the book. The ending was far from the worst Stephen King ending, too (he didn't write it.... probably why). But Franco as the lead.... he's probably my 246th choice for the role, following Skeet Ulrich. I look forward to him proving me wrong, or making me wince in revulsion.
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