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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…
As regular readers will have gathered I actaully like the craft of writing, In this craft, like all forms of creative writing, you learn what works to get your message across and you learn that by having a direct interaction with your readers, rather than having what you write filtered through an editor or a publisher. You see what I am circling around is the issue of “literary awards” and their role in the writing landscape. I have been inclined to think about this because Campbell Newman has just announce that he is scrapping the Queensland Premiers awards with an annual saving to the budget of nearly a quarter of a million bucks. Of course the response to this from the literati has been to denounce this as the act of a philistine:
Personally I think that poetry per se is very over rated and that apart from aspiring members of the literati nobody reads poetry at all these days. The exception is of course the poetry of songs and songwriters. I bet that if you ask “Jane Bloggs” on the street to recite a poem from memory you will draw a blank but you ask her to tell you the lyric to a popular song and she will be close to word perfect. Of course the cultural elites look down their noses at mere popular music yet that would have to be the only form of poetry that makes any kind of an impression on the people or makes quid these days. So perhaps we should acknowledge that Campbell Newman is doing we Queenslanders a favour by scrapping the awards and allowing a rather useless forms of literary expression slide into the obscurity that it so richly deserves