5 Reasons to Love 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Joshua Minton and Stephen King at the Sarasota Book Signing for 11/22/63. November 2011. [CLICK for larger image]

Stephen King has nothing to prove--he's done it all but he keeps delivering these knockout blows that really just add new peaks to the mountaintop of literary accomplishments. But this book, above all the others, will ensure his name is known as one of the greatest authors America ever produced. So enough kissing his ass already; here are five reasons you should read this book.

5. METICULOUS RESEARCH, EXPERTLY CONVEYED: King did serious homework for this book which included travel and electronic back and forth with experts. He read dozens of books and the details pour off the page in a narrative that never slows down despite truckloads of information and logistics. Just astoundingly impressive!

4. GREAT AMERICAN THEMES: King is tapping into the best literature in the history of human art here. 

  • LOVE CONQUERS ALL? Check 
  • YOU'RE BETTER OFF WHERE YOU STARTED? Check
  • INDIVIDUALS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION? Check
  • HEROES CAN BE GEEKY DUDES WHO NOBODY REALLY LOVES? Check

3. DARK TOWER TIE-IN?: This is kind of a given because all of King's stories, whather subtle or overt, have a tie in to the Dark Tower; it's the will of KA after all. But 11/22/63 introduces an interesting character in the [INSERT COLOR] Card Man who stand watch over these time portals, harrassing time travellers. They are logisticians of a sort who must keep the separate strands of time in focus or bad (very bad) things can happen. In the Dark Tower series, the Crimson King employs Breakers whose job is to focus psychic energy to break the beams of the Dark Tower and destroy all of existence. The Color Card Men seem to be night watchmen, charged with preventing misdemeanor tampering of the strands of existence. Sound far out? Keep in mind, Stephen King is the author who wrote himself into his own book during the Dark Tower series and he didn't wuss out and pull the Kilgore Trout stuff that Vonnegut did--he was straight up Stephen King. Also, King originally conceived the concept for this book in 1972 which means it's almost as old as the Dark Tower and Roland's quest.

2. AMAZING PLOT: This book is the story of a man who finds a singularity in 2011 that allows him to travel back in time to 1958 and spend as much time as he can only to return 2 minutes later with each trip. Long story short, the main character embarks on a crusade to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting JFK on 11/22/63. This means the man must live 5 years in the past, that his body ages and he must find a way to survive and prepare until that date. Add in the not so small complication that history protects itself by blocking those who want to change it, sometimes murderously and the bigger the change, the harder it fights. Oh also, the main character falls hopelessly in love which gives history a pretty big crowbar to hit him over the head with along the way--and how does he bring that love back with him to 2011? You get the idea. This is one of hte greatest story lines every devised and King over delivers on the promise of the concept. 

1. PAYOFF!: I'm talking big time payoff here. Several times during the first 300 pages, I thought to myself how easy it would be to cheap shot the reader (e.g. the protagonist gets to the sixth floor at 12:28 and no one is there,etc.) but King drives a big machine right into your brain and out the other side. I haven't read a novel with this great of a payoff in a very long time.

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It's hard to commit to an 850 page book, I know. But if my word means anything, I highly recommend the experience. People will be talking about this book in reference to the Kennedy assassination hundreds of years from now so make sure you don't miss out.