When I heard about the new novel from from Stephen King I hoped that it might be a good read but I was also far from excited having been out of the habit of reading his books for many years. However when I discovered that it was to be a novel in my favourite Science fiction genre of time travel I was intrigued enough to mention my interest to my beautiful wife who took the hint and gave me the book for Christmas.
Now that I have finished the book well I have that “Gee that was good” feeling along with the unpleasant reality that a grand literary adventure is over the book mostly reminds me of Jack Finney’s also excellent time travel Tale “time and again” not the least because like Finney King does a masterful job of blending his fictional narrative into the fabric of historical events.Also like Finny’s book this novel is essentially a love story and a romance .
Its also a romance of sorts with the notion that Kennedy’s assassination was the sort of event that that political tragics think so important that they would undo it in a heartbeat with the expectation of nothing but wonderful consequences. Of course King would not allow such sentimentality and wishful thinking to spoil a good yarn so he instead peppers the whole narratives with the sort of unintended consequences that ensue from changing any event in the past.
The one thing that I do have issue with though is King’s contention that changing some things in the past could be more damaging than others. This is of course a very anthropomorphic view of history and I think that if time travel were possible that all changes to the events of the past would be of equal significance. Even so this is a work of fantasy and it was easy to suspend belief and just go along with the flow of the narrative and the rules of Kings universe.
For long term King fans there are even the occasional allusions to his back catalogue these little bon motts were nice and would probably go right past those who are reading 11.22.63 without any previous experience of this author. Pleasant to was the tightness of the narrative, he seems to have managed to reign in his tendency in some of his longer books to ramble and digress from the strongest stream of his imagination.
If you get the impression that I liked the book you would be absolutely correct and to be honest I look forward to the time when my memory of its narrative has faded enough that I can read it again and enjoy it anew.
Cue a TV miniseries of this book in the not to distant future…