William Winkle's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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May 29, 12

Read from April 28 to May 29, 2012

There's not much to say here that hasn't been said already by hundreds of others. I've read most of King's work over the years. I was a fanatical follower in my teens (the '80s), but I thought King took a weird turn into left field starting with "Dolores Claiborne." From there, things became more hit and miss. Now in my 40s, I have a better feel for why this change might have happened. People change, and while readers might keep clamoring for more of the same, the writer needs to breathe, to strike out and explore. That is, if the writer is someone of King's caliber. Some explorations lead you off the edge of the world into nothing. Some lead to gold in uncharted lands.

"11/22/63" is one of the latter. It is the El Dorado of King's last two decades. I listened to the 30-disc audio version -- and the narration is EXTREMELY good on this one -- and, except for discs 15 through 18, where the tale bogs down in Lee Harvey Oswald's back story, the book speeds past with heartbreaking rapidity. You simply don't want it to end. This was, for me, one of the most emotionally engaging novels I've ever read.

If you've never sampled King before because of all that "spooky horror" business, start here. "11/22/63" is not spooky or scary in the conventional Hollywood or pulp senses. It is gripping and intense, tender and nostalgic, a testament to a writer who has fought hard for his talent and now brings all of his ample skills into focus on a canvas made from age and experience. This book should not be missed.

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