Alfredo's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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M 50x66
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Dec 05, 2011

it was amazing
Read from December 05 to 24, 2011

Wow, where do I start?

This is the best Stephen King in a while. I went through the 900+ pages in less than a week and I have to say I was satisfied with the plot, the pace, and the cameos.

The plot is fairly well know: a teacher going back in time to try to save JFK from assassination. Fortunately this is only the maguffin for an adventure through the late 50s and early 60s America. King deftly shows us the mores, bigotry and foolishness of that period in Americana, but he also shows us the good things we've lost: The sense of community, the innocence and the optimism.

King's vision manages to be both nostalgic and brutally honest. Just on the social description and commentary this novel would have made it a great outing. However King ups the ante by taking us on a visit to some of our old friends in Derry right after the summer of IT, and later a couple of appearances by an old motorized friend. The only thing that would have made it even better would have been a side trip to the Marsten House in the town of Jerusalem's Lot!

I am amazed how Stephen King has managed to do sentimentality and romance so well. The Stephen King of "The Shining" or even "The Stand" was not as adept at showing the tenderness, pain, and longing that he has achieved in "Bag of Bones" or "Hearts in Atlantis", but that talent is in full display here.

The author has always been able to show us the placid surface of a town at the same time as he unmasks the dark undercurrent running through it. In this book he takes this national. Our main character Jake/George marvels at the natural flavors, but also at the stench of factories; he is moved by the sense of community, but also disgusted at bathrooms for "colored". Through his characters we are able to sense the underlying racial tension that must have permeated the early sixties and which would result in the Civil Rights movement and riots of the mid to late sixties. He shows how beneath a seeming acceptance of each race's place in life, a sense of unease and expectation lurked.

The book also touches upon how beneath a society that enforced sexual mores and conventions, those same upstanding citizens found ways to break the rules privately, and how beneath the semblance of Victorian puritanism, a streak of unacknowledged acceptance existed. America was the ultimate "Don't ask, don't tell" society.

A final comment is on the climax of the book. Many times I've read a story that was exceptional just to collapse in the last 100 pages, as if the author had run out of steam towards the end. This is not such a book. It kept the tension and the suspense right to the last page. I highly recommend this book to people that love good science fiction, alternate history, and romances.
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