Stephen King takes us back to ’11/22/63′

I love it when good news seems to come out of nowhere.

The Internet is a great thing, but it means surprises from the entertainment industry are few and far between. Just yesterday I was able to read about a new Quentin Tarantino script that he hasn’t even delivered to a studio yet. Pre-Internet, you usually didn’t know about something coming from a favorite filmmaker or author until it was completed and the publicity machines were gearing up. I have to admit, while I enjoy being able to track and anticipate new works from my favorites from their earliest periods of development, I do sometimes miss the element of surprise. But, you can’t go back in time….

…, unless, perhaps, you’re in a Stephen King story.

I’m sure if I had been looking, I’d have noticed a mention of King’s just-announced new novel, 11/22/63, somewhere on the Internet before today. But I haven’t, and so it was a pleasant surprise to see it pop up big on the radar with an announcement at King’s own site as well as announcements from Simon & Schuster and Hodder. Here’s the synopsis that’s making the rounds:

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.

I think a theme that often runs through King’s work is “Be careful what you wish for,” and this is setting up as the ultimate examination of that theme. King’s also written strong material about the turmoil of the ’60s before, and I think he’s been on a roll lately – recent novels Lisey’s Story, Duma Key and Under the Dome are each excellent in their own way, and Full Dark, No Stars made a lot of people happy. King’s had his ups-and-downs, but I think we’re in the midst of one of his strongest periods yet, and I’m excited to see what his characters do with the chance to change the world.

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One thought on “Stephen King takes us back to ’11/22/63′

  1. I am really excited to see what King does with this concept. Even though it has a SF idea at the core (time travel and changing history), it actually made me think of the novella Hearts in Atlantis (from the linked story collection of the same name). I think King has A LOT more to say about that era, and this is the book where he’s going to do it!

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