Stephen King //
Not yet now, not now, but within fifty years the world will look upon Stephen King as one of the greatest writers in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.
The problem with Stephen King is his urge to produce. The man delivers so much pages, there is hardly time left for the readers to digest. But in time we will remember the unbelievable number of stories he wrote, if we don’t already: The Shining, Misery, Shawshank Redemption; The Green Mile, Christine, Cujo, to name a few. You might have read the book or seen the movie. Here at Booktunes, we are focusing on his latest novel 11-22-1963.
It is about a guy – a teacher from Maine, you know the drill – who accidentally discovers a rabbit hole that enables him to travel back in time, back to September 1958, to be exact. He decides to change the world and tries to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Then maybe the Vietnam War will not happen, the race riots will not happen, Richard Nixon will not happen, and it will turn out to be a better world for all of us.
Writer Stephen King is a notorious lefty, a born ’n raised democrat, so it is understandable that he keeps dreaming of better worlds, better futures and better outcomes. If only the people from 1963 would have known what he knows now, in the year 2012. Time traveling is a difficult issue in literature. Many have tried and many have failed to raise the issue in a credible way. But Stephen King has done it. After reading 11-22-1963, you will be looking for rabbit holes, as well.
How did he do that, the time traveling thing and making it credible?
First of all King went back to his own youth – he is 65 now – and he managed to reproduce the colors, the odors and the music of his younger days. Enter the smell of gasoline, non-fucked-with-milkshakes, fruit shops along the underdeveloped high ways, and enter the sounds of Duane Eddy, Glenn Miller, Billy Vaughn and Buddy Holly.
Secondly: research. Research is often undervalued in literature. A nice sentence, you alliterate a little and we’re okay. Not with Stephen King. This guy knows his onions and he works hard to prove so.
It is 1958 and the English literature teacher has to wait five years before he can prevent Harvey Lee Oswald from killing JFK. He works his way through the late fifties, falls in love and dances to Chubby Checker, Lee Dorsey and the Dovells. Sometimes, when he forgets that he is living in the 50/60ties, he hums a Stones or Beatles-intro. His girlfriend thinks he is weird when he hums those tunes. It is with those fragments that King wins your hearta. The 35-year-old teacher/hero from Maine is one of us. His president is Barack Obama, his wars are fought in Afghanistan and Iraq - with this mindset King takes us back to the early sixties, where Afro-Americans were housecleaners and drivers and America’s welfare felt threatened by dark and unknown South-East Asian Countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, not to mention a nowadays holiday island Cuba.
It is his writing, his imagination, his love for music, his talent and sense for detail that makes this Stephen King novel unputdownable. He makes you want to live in those naive and happy days, fifty years ago. Then again, does it make sense to change history? What are the effects? Maybe our past doesn’t want to be changed...
Reading 11-22-1963 – a truly wonderful book – only one thing is certain: what amazing tunes they had in those days.
text by Ap van der Meulen / photo by Alice Blue Blaze