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11/22/63 by Stephen King
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11/22/63 (edition 2011)

by Stephen King

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5,705411746 (4.2)1 / 515
Member:ablachly
Title:11/22/63
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Scribner (2011), Edition: First Edition/First Printing, Hardcover, 849 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

11/22/63 by Stephen King

  1. 152
    It by Stephen King (watertiger, sturlington)
    watertiger: The characters from IT are referenced in 11/22/63
    sturlington: A section of 11/22/63 is set in Derry and features characters from It.
  2. 80
    The Dead Zone by Stephen King (StarryNightElf)
  3. 70
    Time and again by Jack Finney (zwelbast, bookworm12)
  4. 60
    Replay by Ken Grimwood (SJaneDoe, dltj)
    dltj: Shares a similar plot line that covers part of the same time period, and "Replay" even includes a story fragment about November 22, 1963.
  5. 20
    Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson (stevetempo)
    stevetempo: No change in history here...but a cross time romance is featured...if you saw and enjoyed the movie...read the book.
  6. 32
    American Tabloid by James Ellroy (glwebb)
    glwebb: If you liked 11/22/63 then American Tabloid should be right up your street. A very snappy, complicated, twisted look at the Kennedy Presidency and assassination. Ellroy dishes up a counterfactual history that seems almost too real to be anything other than the secret truth.… (more)
  7. 22
    American Gods - The Tenth Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: Both novels are epic. They both have elements of time travel and a sense that minor actions can lead to major unintended consequences.
  8. 00
    Time and Time Again by Ben Elton (aliklein)
  9. 02
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (mene)
    mene: Both books are about time travel through a kind of portal. In both books, the time traveller finds love on the other side, but the effects of the time travel and the way it works are different. In King's book, the time traveller also actively tries to change history, while in Gabaldon's book, the time traveller uses her knowledge of future events a lot less actively.… (more)
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A few years back, my image of Stephen King was entirely made up of killer clowns and rabid dogs and possessed cars (there’s a thought: Christine as a killer clown car…), the grandpappy of a genre I had absolutely no interest in. I’d read a whole two King novels, one of them because I was forced, and never felt the need to explore further.

Idiot.

I still haven’t read much of his (all those books full of treasure – what a wonderful thought!), but what I have read has made me into a still-astonished fangirl. I mean, I never would have believed that Stephen King could make me cry at work – not “Oh God there’s something under my desk I think it’s a clown” crying but genuinely moved tears. But there I was, surreptitiously wiping my eyes as I listened via Audible. More than once.

He does beautiful, surprising things with words.

“My honors kids were juniors… but they wrote like little old men and little old ladies, all pursey-mouthed and ‘Oo! Don’t slip on that icy patch, Mildred!’”

“…Chased my headlights down Highway 77…”

“No wonder she looked like you could staple a string to the back of her dress and fly her like a kite.”

And:

It’s all of a piece, I thought. It’s an echo so close to perfect you can’t tell which one is the living voice and which is the ghost voice returning. For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dream clock chiming beneath a mystery glass we call life. Behind it, below it, and around it: chaos. Storms. Men with hammers, men with knives. Men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss – surrounding a single lighted stage, where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.

This is writing I want to wrap myself up in forever.

(I made a note of one exquisite line, and I still have to follow up on it: “Scaring people is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.” And I commented that that should be on the King family arms. And then I started wanting very badly to design the King coat of arms. When I find my pencils…)

I feel a bit ashamed of the fact that I’m so surprised at the warm loveliness of some of this. “Of course it went splendidly, as cream pie fights always do.” My God, that whole chapter was a joy that left me a little giddy as a reader and a little awed as a writer.

I love “The Land of Ago”. I adore “Little by slowly”, and am incorporating it into my vocabulary.

And this made, makes me very happy:
“What might that be, Miss Caltrop?” I asked. “Because I’ve got ice cream in here and I’d like to get home before it melts.”
She gave me a chilly smile that could have kept my French vanilla firm for hours.

“That probably should have told me something, but I had too much on my mind. His story was not the least of it. That’s the curse of the reading class: we can be seduced by a good story, even at the least opportune moments.” He is of my people.

“I know life is hard, I think everyone knows that in their hearts, but why does it have to be cruel as well? Why does it have to bite?”

It’s beautiful – and it’s terrifying. There’s no killer clown here, no dog foaming at the mouth, no vampires. Instead there’s something called the Jimla, which in its mystery and in its explanation is deeply unsettling. And there’s a broom, which isn’t what you expect, but which is at least as awful. The writing can have a rather pure simplicity to it – and it just goes to show that you don’t need all that much to create terror if you do it right. “Something was moving around upstairs.” *shudder*

And it’s not just a masterful way with words: his plotting is equally beautiful. The long long buildup makes actually finally getting to 11/22/63 rather like the first day of summer vacation after a long, long school year. It’s not often that the main event of a book is so very far into a long book, and yet suspense is maintained throughout. “Get rid of one wretched waif, buddy, and you could save millions of lives,” said Al Templeton, and it actually gave me chills. Because, come on: this is a cause worthy of Don Quixote. Whatever negatives can be brought against Kennedy, there’s such an aura of mythical unfulfilled promise about him that the whole premise of the book is irresistible, to Jake as well as the reader. Who knows? If Kennedy had lived, we might not have become tangled in Vietnam. We might have had a fuller, longer space program. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. might not have been assassinated. Race relations might have improved faster, more thoroughly. Who knows? He was young, smart … promising. Who knows…

In the long, slow, gorgeous buildup of the book, Stephen King demonstrates that not only is he quite the expert on torturing his characters … he is also very good at torturing his readers. I don’t know when I’ve seen quite so much foreshadowing and “had I but known”: “Things between us might have progressed faster than they did, except for what happened during that halftime.” He uses this device a lot – but he’s so damned good at it, at making the outcome nothing you ever expected no matter how many hints he gave and how much you thought he was telegraphing, that what might elsewhere be an aggravation is, here, just another way of keeping up the suspense.

Al, who went first through time and taught Jake the little he has to work with, explained to him that time is obdurate. (That not-so-common word gets a workout in this book – it’s great.) The timeline as we know it fights any attempts to make changes. But, I thought, maybe all of the delays were to put Al just where he needed to be, not to try to stop him. I sigh for my innocence…

One thing I do wonder a bit is why Jake’s full concentration was on getting rid of Lee Harvey Oswald, the wretched waif, via the one method. He never seems to have considered other possibilities, which might have been a bit simpler and perhaps more foolproof. He also never seems to consider that if he had taken out Oswald earlier it would have prevented the second daughter’s conception. See “butterflies’ wings”, below.

One fun thing about listening to this while at work was that with the computer right in front of me the whole time I could jump online and look things up right away. (During one such search I came upon a website purporting to show John Connally shooting Kennedy from the middle seat. I … no.) And looking into a certain boxing match, I found this quote: ”Tiger was not the kind of guy to get zonked by an opponent who was way past his prime. Certainly not in 1963.”. And I can only say … that’s kind of the point.

And of course being online anyway meant that whenever the characters were listening to it I could queue up “In the Mood” too. I started it up while listening to George and Sadie’s first dance – and it was one of the best listening experiences I’ve ever had. There are times, like being forced to listen to some of the rancid expulsions from the work radio station, that I would give up environmental advances, women’s lib, and medical achievements for this alone: In the Mood

The flapping of butterflies’ wings, that time-honored trope of time travel fiction, is here in full force. Jake avers that he does his best to avoid any extra flapping – but, in what may be the only real flaw I can think of, what Jake doesn’t seem to think of immediately is that his taking this apartment and that, this job and that, even this car and that, kept others from taking them. That’s a pretty significant flap. This doesn’t do to dwell on… In fact, this is the tale of an intelligent man – book smart, street stupid – who goes back in time with next to no preparation and doesn’t do too badly – until he really, really does. At one point I became so irritated with Jake’s ineptitude and what happened to him because of it that images of a scathing review and greyed-out stars in the rating area danced in my mind – and then it hit me. Of course he’s inept. Exactly how ept would anyone, any English teacher from 2011, from Maine or anywhere else, with exactly no time to prepare and no history of any of the kind of behavior George Amberson is forced into – how “ept” could anyone like that be in an alien time and – eventually – place? Of course Jake is inept. That’s kind of the point.

I’m so glad I opted for the Audible edition of this. The narrator, Craig Wasson, often sounds like Jimmy Stewart, which somehow was utterly perfect. Also, there are a lot of creepy things in the world, and one of them is a voice like Jimmy Stewart’s voicing Stephen Kingisms. The janitor’s father – Dunning – sounds like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. (I’m sure I’m missing a connection there.) And there were some pretty darn good Kennedy and Cronkite impersonations, as needed. Also? Chaz is awesome, cuz.

I seem to say this a lot lately, but – I learned a bit from 11/22/63. (For one thing, the mental lapse I’ve always suffered in trying to remember that date is now conquered, with the added bonus that I will always now know the birthday of the cousin who was born the day Kennedy was shot.) I didn’t expect the anti-Kennedy faction to be also anti-racist (in a paternalistic, no-really-segregation-is-better-for-everyone sort of way). I didn’t anticipate the inevitability of the fact that there were over 200 death threats against Kennedy on that Texas trip – a very relevant fact. I trust King’s portraits of the historical figures – and his sympathetic portrait of Marina takes away some of my usual unease at real people appearing as characters in novels (especially those still living, or with direct relatives still living). I couldn’t possibly have cared less how King portrayed the “waif” – and the almost reluctant (and very limited) sympathy which he also received, and which King forced me to also feel, caught me off guard.

In the end, the main thing I take away from this sprawling saga of time travel and love and fear is a deep affection for King’s characters. Harry Dunning. Al Templeton. Sadie Dunhill. George Amberson/Jake Epping. "Deke" Simmons, Ellen Dockerty, the kids. Even the Oswalds. I won’t forget them in a hurry. Ever. I’m probably going to apologize to Stephen King in every review I write of his books, because I was an ignorant twit when I dismissed his writing for all those years. Mea culpa.

Final comment: There’s a film adaptation coming! A series on Hulu – and filming started on June 9, 2015. Dang. Guess I’ll need to subscribe to Hulu. ( )
  Stewartry | Aug 20, 2015 |
Wow. It's been a long time since I read something that was so thoroughly engrossing, that I really didn't want to put down, that I just had to READ. Almost from the first word to the last word. I did skim over a bit of the lead-up to the climax, but mostly out of impatience. I haven't read a Stephen King novel in a long time, mostly because I really don't like scary things, and he mostly writes scary things. But also because I sort of perceive him as a pulp writer, because he is so prolific. Surely a person who churns out what, half a dozen novels per year? can't be writing quality stuff, right? Well. I have to say, it's too bad he mostly writes scary stuff, because the man can really spin a yarn. While this novel has some currents of menace running through it that are even more wince-inducing than anything truly horrific in, say "Carrie" or "The Shining," the subject matter was compelling to me so I really wanted to read it. And, ultimately, it has more of the tone of his story "The Body," which was turned into the movie "Stand By Me." I can't remember if I've read the story, but I saw the movie, and it's more of a psychological drama, which has you shifting in your seat at times, but doesn't really frighten you. This novel is like that. And I'm an innocent enough reader that, while there were a couple things in the narrative that seemed foregone conclusions, whose resolution I kind of saw coming a mile away, I never guessed at the ultimate ending of the story (and neither will you, from this review! No spoilers here!). Anyway, I'm glad I had the time to finish reading this monster tome this weekend, I think it gave me carpal tunnel just keeping it aloft while trying to get through it. But I really just wanted to get through it. Which sounds kind of bad, I realize, but I don't mean it that way. It was ultimately satisfying, and, like I said, I really never sensed the ending at all. King really develops the story well enough that you (well, I) never guessed what would happen in the end. And, while I would have been happy with a number of different scenarios, he wrapped it up well. And, in the acknowledgements, he notes that his son (also a writer, whose stuff I've never read) gave him the idea for the ending. So, well done, son! ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
Time travel has always fascinated me and to have a storyteller of the caliber of Stephen King employ this device makes it all the better! As the title implies, it is the story of an attempt to re-write history and do away with Lee Harvey Oswald before he can assassinate JFK in 1963. Stephen King tells a suspenseful story from beginning to end. But as we all remember from the Back to the Future movies, time travel is risky. As the main character, Jake (George) learns, history does not want to be changed, and when even small things are changed, it can have drastic unintended consequences. Since this was Stephen King, I kept waiting for some hugely bizarre event to occur but that never happened. There was just the right touch of bizarre to keep it interesting. Since I remember the assassination and its aftermath and lived in the culture of that time, I particularly enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to others. Be warned – it is 850 pages of reading, but well worth the effort! ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
I couldn't decide if I should give this 3 or 4 stars. I really liked the first two thirds of the book, before it got into the Kennedy assassination plot line. I was hooked at the beginning, but once it got into what seemed to be the main plot of the book, it seemed to drag on a bit too much. But I still enjoyed it and it was a quick read for how long it is. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
I listened to the 30 hours of this audiobook over a 3 month period and was fascinated - had never been interested in reading a Stephen King book before, but so many "lt"ers loved it that I was convinced to try -

The story is about a man who travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK, but it is even more about life in the late 1950s, early 1960s in small town and bigger town America - It brought back many memories for me - and was a reminder of a very different world.

The story was creative, unique, and charming in many ways - the characters were really "characters" - many were odd and delightful and I cared about them. King's ending was very fulfilling and quite different from what I had expected. ( )
  njinthesun | Aug 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
...ingen van läsare av science fiction kommer att bli överraskad.

 
It all adds up to one of the best time-travel stories since H. G. Wells. King has captured something wonderful. Could it be the bottomlessness of reality? The closer you get to history, the more mysterious it becomes. He has written a deeply romantic and pessimistic book. It’s romantic about the real possibility of love, and pessimistic about everything else.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bonomelli, RexCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cassel, BooTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gassie, NadineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, ErichDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasson, CraigReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It is virtually not assimilable to our reason that a small lonely man felled a giant in the midst of his limousines, his legions, his throng, and his security. If such a nonentity destroyed the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, then a world of disproportion engulfs us, and we live in a universe that is absurd.

- Norman Mailer
If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples.

- Japanese proverb
Dancing is life.
Dedication
For Zelda
Hey, honey, welcome to the party
First words
I have never been what you call a crying man.
Quotations
But stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect.  The other is missed chances.
Although emotionally delicate and eminently bruisable, teenagers are short on empathy.  That comes later in life, if at all.
Life turns on a dime.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas,
President Kennedy died, and the world changed.

If you had the chance to change history, would you?
Would the consequences be worth it?

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Haiku summary
Can we change the past?
Not if it erases life.
Better just to dance. (enemyanniemae)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? The author's new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. In this novel that is a tribute to a simpler era, he sweeps readers back in time to another moment, a real life moment, when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students, a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake's friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane, and insanely possible, mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life, a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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