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849 pages, Hardcover
First published November 8, 2011
(Since 'a picture is worth a thousand words', the above is a three-thousand-words summary of this book. Impressive, no? And also - “dancing is life”.)
“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?"As the title proceeds to shamelessly tells us, the book deals with the assassination of John F. Kennedy (and if the title fails to convey the message, then hopefully you - like yours truly - have Google-pedia'd it. Hey, don't judge, I was born in Eastern Europe). Anyway, it's another of Stephen King's 'what if?' situations. What if you could go through a 'rabbit-hole' to the past? Would you try to change history for the better, would you try to right the wrongs? Well, who wouldn't??? And so Jake Epping, an English teacher, sets out to spend half a decade in the past to prevent the assassination of JFK (and to figure out whether Lee Harvey Oswald was indeed the lone gunman that day, despite all the conspiracy theories).
He stared at me, baffled. "Why the fuck would you do that?”
"As I flipped to the back, I kept seeing that double take. And the grin. A sense of humor; a sense of the absurd. The man in the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository had neither. Oswald had proved it time and again, and such a man had no business changing history."The question is - what would have happened had JFK survived the assassination that day in Dallas? Would we still have Vietnam War, race riots, and Martin Luther King's death? Could the lives of many innocent people be spared? Could JFK lead the country into a better future? Jake believes so. But what if the past resists the change? What is the price of changing the past?
“Even people capable of living in the past don't really know what the future holds.”
"The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle’s shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless."This book again dispels the long-believed but mistaken axiom that Stephen King is "just a horror writer" - of a spook and startle variety. No, in the traditional sense he is not. He knows that the true monsters are those that live inside every one of us (and, ahem, occasionally in Derry, Maine). He has created his own brand of psychological suspense - with the brilliant and scary insight into the minds of average everyday people (who all have some darkness inside them and a skeleton or two in the closet - sometimes quite literally) superimposed onto the masterful description of small towns themselves (eerily resembling sentient living creatures, determined to hold on to their dark secrets). (*) And we get plenty of these in this book, as Jake's quest to prevent that fateful shot in November in Dallas takes him along the way to the small towns of Derry, Maine and Jodie, Texas.
* I have an irrational fear of living in a small town, thanks to Stephen King. What if it turns out to be another Derry or Castle Rock?! *shudder*
“On that gray street, with the smell of industrial smokes in the air and the afternoon bleeding away to evening, downtown Derry looked only marginally more charming than a dead hooker in a church pew.”Derry of 1958 (right after the terrifying events of IT) is particularly repulsive and sinister. It's a small wonder Jake is able to continue his quest after starting in such an ominous place. But even there King manages to include some unexpected beauty - just remember Richie and Bevvy dancing.
"Is there any phrase more ominous than you need to see exactly what you’ve done? I couldn’t think of one offhand."-----------------------------
"If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples."
I'll love your face no matter what it looks like. Because it's yours.