11/22/63: A Novelby Stephen King
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Soon to be a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco
ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?
In this brilliantly conceived/b>/i>/i>
One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Soon to be a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco
ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?
In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
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Read an Excerpt
On Monday, March 25, Lee came walking up Neely Street carrying a long package wrapped in brown paper. Peering through a tiny crack in the curtains, I could see the words REGISTERED and INSURED stamped on it in big red letters. For the first time I thought he seemed furtive and nervous, actually looking around at his exterior surroundings instead of at the spooky furniture deep in his head. I knew what was in the package: a 6.5mm Carcano rifle—also known as a Mannlicher-Carcano—complete with scope, purchased from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago. Five minutes after he climbed the outside stairs to the second floor, the gun Lee would use to change history was in a closet above my head. Marina took the famous pictures of him holding it just outside my living room window six days later, but I didn’t see it. That was a Sunday, and I was in Jodie. As the tenth grew closer, those weekends with Sadie had become the most important, the dearest, things in my life.
I came awake with a jerk, hearing someone mutter “Still not too late” under his breath. I realized it was me and shut up.
Sadie murmured some thick protest and turned over in bed. The familiar squeak of the springs locked me in place and time: the Candlewood Bungalows, April 5, 1963. I fumbled my watch from the nightstand and peered at the luminous numbers. It was quarter past two in the morning, which meant it was actually the sixth of April.
Still not too late.
Not too late for what? To back off, to let well enough alone? Or bad enough, come to that? The idea of backing off was attractive, God knew. If I went ahead and things went wrong, this could be my last night with Sadie. Ever.
Even if you do have to kill him, you don’t have to do it right away.
True enough. Oswald was going to relocate to New Orleans for awhile after the attempt on the general’s life—another shitty apartment, one I’d already visited—but not for two weeks. That would give me plenty of time to stop his clock. But I sensed it would be a mistake to wait very long. I might find reasons to keep on waiting. The best one was beside me in this bed: long, lovely, and smoothly naked. Maybe she was just another trap laid by the obdurate past, but that didn’t matter, because I loved her. And I could envision a scenario—all too clearly—where I’d have to run after killing Oswald. Run where? Back to Maine, of course. Hoping I could stay ahead of the cops just long enough to get to the rabbit-hole and escape into a future where Sadie Dunhill would be . . . well . . . about eighty years old. If she were alive at all. Given her cigarette habit, that would be like rolling six the hard way.
I got up and went to the window. Only a few of the bungalows were occupied on this early-spring weekend. There was a mud- or manure-splattered pickup truck with a trailer full of what looked like farm implements behind it. An Indian motorcycle with a sidecar. A couple of station wagons. And a two-tone Plymouth Fury. The moon was sliding in and out of thin clouds and it wasn’t possible to make out the color of the car’s lower half by that stuttery light, but I was pretty sure I knew what it was, anyway.
I pulled on my pants, undershirt, and shoes. Then I slipped out of the cabin and walked across the courtyard. The chilly air bit at my bed-warm skin, but I barely felt it. Yes, the car was a Fury, and yes, it was white over red, but this one wasn’t from Maine or Arkansas; the plate was Oklahoma, and the decal in the rear window read GO, SOONERS. I peeked in and saw a scatter of textbooks. Some student, maybe headed south to visit his folks on spring break. Or a couple of horny teachers taking advantage of the Candlewood’s liberal guest policy.
Just another not-quite-on-key chime as the past harmonized with itself. I touched the trunk, as I had back in Lisbon Falls, then returned to the bungalow. Sadie had pushed the sheet down to her waist, and when I came in, the draft of cool air woke her up. She sat, holding the sheet over her breasts, then let it drop when she saw it was me.
“Can’t sleep, honey?”
“I had a bad dream and went out for some air.”
“What was it?”
I unbuttoned my jeans, kicked off my loafers. “Can’t remember.”
“Try. My mother always used to say if you tell your dreams, they won’t come true.”
I got into bed with her wearing nothing but my undershirt. “My mother used to say if you kiss your honey, they won’t come true.”
“Did she actually say that?”
“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “it sounds possible. Let’s try it.”
We tried it.
One thing led to another.
Afterward, she lit a cigarette. I lay watching the smoke drift up and turn blue in the occasional moonlight coming through the half-drawn curtains. I’d never leave the curtains that way at Neely Street, I thought. At Neely Street, in my other life, I’m always alone but still careful to close them all the way. Except when I’m peeking, that is. Lurking.
Just then I didn’t like myself very much.
I sighed. “That’s not my name.”
I looked at her. She inhaled deeply, enjoying her cigarette guiltlessly, as people do in the Land of Ago. “I don’t have any inside information, if that’s what you’re thinking. But it stands to reason. The rest of your past is made up, after all. And I’m glad. I don’t like George all that much. It’s kind of . . . what’s that word you use sometimes? . . . kind of dorky.”
“How does Jake suit you?”
“As in Jacob?”
“I like it.” She turned to me. “In the Bible, Jacob wrestled an angel. And you’re wrestling, too. Aren’t you?”
“I suppose I am, but not with an angel.” Although Lee Oswald didn’t make much of a devil, either. I liked George de Mohren--schildt better for the devil role. In the Bible, Satan’s a tempter who makes the offer and then stands aside. I hoped de Mohrenschildt was like that.
Sadie snubbed her cigarette. Her voice was calm, but her eyes were dark. “Are you going to be hurt?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you going away? Because if you have to go away, I’m not sure I can stand it. I would have died before I said it when I was there, but Reno was a nightmare. Losing you for good . . .” She shook her head slowly. “No, I’m not sure I could stand that.”
“I want to marry you,” I said.
“My God,” she said softly. “Just when I’m ready to say it’ll never happen, Jake-alias-George says right now.”
“Not right now, but if the next week goes the way I hope it does . . . will you?”
“Of course. But I do have to ask one teensy question.”
“Am I single? Legally single? Is that what you want to know?”
“I am,” I said.
She let out a comic sigh and grinned like a kid. Then she sobered. “Can I help you? Let me help you.”
The thought turned me cold, and she must have seen it. Her lower lip crept into her mouth. She bit down on it with her teeth. “That bad, then,” she said musingly.
“Let’s put it this way: I’m currently close to a big machine full of sharp teeth, and it’s running full speed. I won’t allow you next to me while I’m monkeying with it.”
“When is it?” she asked. “Your . . . I don’t know . . . your date with destiny?”
“Still to be determined.” I had a feeling that I’d said too much already, but since I’d come this far, I decided to go a little farther. “Something’s going to happen this Wednesday night. Something I have to witness. Then I’ll decide.”
“Is there no way I can help you?”
“I don’t think so, honey.”
“If it turns out I can—”
“Thanks,” I said. “I appreciate that. And you really will marry me?”
“Now that I know your name is Jake? Of course.”
Meet the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy—Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel), Finders Keepers, and End of Watch; the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams; Revival; Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic series, The Dark Tower, is the basis for a major motion picture from Sony. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
- Bangor, Maine
- Date of Birth:
- September 21, 1947
- Place of Birth:
- Portland, Maine
- B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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As a 41 year old guy trying to fit in a little reading into his life, I must say it was tough when I saw the page count of this book, which in my opinion is nthing short of a masterpiece. I was always put off of Stephen King as a reader, mostly because of the creepy movies that came from his books, but this was different. This book was almost historical fiction with a time travel twist, and Stephen King makes every detail come alive, and I blew through it, crying like a schoolgirl as I read the last page. I couldn't recommend it more highly!
Stephen King is at the top of his game with 11/22/63! So many writers get stale but this is fresh and new and yet quintessentially King. His quirky humor abounds and his turn of phrase delights. He wrapped a love story around the bleakest day in American political history and created magic. His attention to detail regarding life in the 60's is amazing and brought back so many memories (and smells). Read this because you are a fan of romance. Read this because you are a fan of time travel novels. Read this because you are a fan of historical fiction. It has something for all of you.
Yes, i red the book, just finished it and it was Great. Lots of factual history and research went into this novel. Kept me wanting to read more. This novel intertwines both fact and fiction as one begins to think about going back and change history. is it possible and if it were, what are the consequences. Great read.....
I was born in the wrong decade. I¿m certain. My Mom hates it when I say that. She says, ¿Sean, you were born when you were for a reason.¿ I think God made a huge mistake. Or maybe forgot me for twenty years. I should have been born in 1963. Mr. King took me there and now I know for sure. I opened this book and traveled back in time. Stephen King broke my heart. He picked up the pieces. And strategically scattered them throughout the pages of his new novel like breadcrumbs leading me home. I made it out alive. I learned something along the way. I was born when I was for a reason. There¿s no place like home. My advice? Pick up this book and allow Mr. King to teach you to dance.
Please, please give this book a read. It is thoughtful, wonderful, and not what people might remember from his early days. I am a constant reader of his. The way this book is written, i never once stopped because it was not believable. Stephen King has a way of making characters and their thoughts and dialog seem like it might be you or your neighbor. The narrative flows along, and you really feel what they are going through. I will not go over plot points n stuff, but i will say this. I felt gobsmacked, confused, horrified, fell in love, felt for them, and when i read the word shivers, i was already there, friends.
Finished this book late last night and wish I could go back in time and read it again!! Never a big Stephen King in the past, but the title grabbed me and, having grown up in the sixties and in Dallas, I couldn't seem to put it down. Finishing a 840 plus page book in a week is a first for me, but this was definitely worth the read. A great combination of both fact and fantasy!!!
I'll admit...I'm not done with the book yet, I'm only about half way through. From the very beginning Stephen King draws you in with an intriguing story that will make you never want to put it down. You soon fall in love with the characters and really learn to care about them and what will happen to them. For me this is one of the most important factors in a good book and also the hardest to find! Don't be fooled into thinking that you will be in a boring history class listening about the JFK story that you've heard a million times. Stephen King makes you feel like you are apart of the history. It's eerie and fantastic all at the same time. It really has all the elements of a Page Turner and a book that will keep you talking about it long after you finished it. You'll never want to put it down! The only thing I fear is that it's so good that it will be turned into a movie and people will not read it. You don't want to miss out on the amazing writing! This book is for all readers, it's Stephen King at his best, and it's perfect for those who love a good book discussion. I highly recommend getting this book ASAP.
Loved it but the video enhancements (that I paid extra for) do not work on my color nook. Don't spend the extra for them.
Stephen King is, first and foremost, an extraordinary storyteller. He casts his premise on the water like an expert fly-fisherman, stripping out line slowly, letting it drift. Before you know it you are hooked, and he keeps the line taut, deftly controlling where he wants you to go. The only stories I could not get into were his fantasy series, but that's just a matter of personal taste. As far as classic King goes, I would rank this book right up there with The Stand and the Shining. This is simply one of his best, and a must read for King fans, or soon-to-be King fans. This book is sure to be a huge hit.
Another one of a kind book from Stephen King, I might say one of a kind because of the way he wrote it and not because the topic is new. His aptness and dedication has always shown how he is such a wonderful author.
Not since "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" has King tempted me into reading one of his books, and it was a long time prior to that that I had more or less given up on him. However, this story grabbed me from the overleaf and, though a bit long, kept up the interest without the predictable and repetetive over indulgence in the gore and vulgarity that has marred King's more recent works.
We all know what an intelligent, terrific writer SK is so there's no need to even go there. But THIS novel...........wow. If I didn't have a life, I would have sat and read this book from cover to cover without a break. As it was, I had to force myself to slow down in order to more thoroughly enjoy the gorgeous writing and the incredibly researched storyline. It is a wondrous novel filled with awe. Read it; it is his best by far.
I AM A SLOW READER BUT I FOUND THIS ONE HARD TO PUT DOWN KING YOU HAVE DONE IT AGAIN!!
I have never been much of a Stephen King fan. I almost never read fictional books, especially those that have so many pages! Ironically enough this historical FICTION written by STEPHEN KING was really good. King does a great job of really taking the reader back to the 60's with sights, sounds, people and situations. I could not put the book down. I picked it up and knocked it out as often as I could, even sneaking a few chapters in while at work ; )
11/22/63 is a different kind of book for King and being a young boy when Kennedy was assassinated drove my interest in reading what may have been should Jake Epping aka George Amberson be successful in his time travel mission. The book was certainly not a page turner but it does capture your interest to stay with it as Jake charts his time from the fall of 1958 to that fateful day in November 1963. Once November 22, 1963, passes King closes out the book rather rapidly and, in my opinion, rather weakly from what I would have expected. Personally, I would have wished November 22, 1963, came earlier in the book and to have had a more in depth read/treatment of how history could have been.
This is an excellent "everyman" time-travel story told in first-person, reminiscent of Jack Finney's Time and Again classic. High school English teacher Jake Epping is maneuvered into traveling to 1958 via a strange portal in order to stop the JFK assassination, which of course is then still 5 years in the future, enough time for all sorts of complications. Part adventure, part dark thriller, and part love story, 11/22/63 succeeds on all levels and holds the reader's attention with its frequent plot twists. King's pacing and characterization are pitch perfect. Of course, some of this novel is autobiographical since King worked as an English teacher, and he lived through the 1958-1963 period as a pre-teen and teen (11 to 16 years old). This background, therefore, helps King provide the "feel" of that period quite faithfully. I'm a science fiction fan and writer, so horror and the supernatural are not generally to my taste, so even though I appreciate King's beautiful writing style, I usually avoid most of his work. Misery is one exception and 11/22/63 is another. King fans who are looking for flat-out horror (not just some threatening creepiness) will probably be disappointed with 11/22/63, but more mainstream readers and fans of time-travel stories will be very, very satisfied. Vincent Miskell is the author of Godspeed, Inc.: A Naomi Kinder Adventure (a free ebook for NOOK).
A lot of people think that Stephen Kings newest books aren't as good as his old ones. And in many cases they're right. But who can blame him for not writing as well as he used to, he's put out about fifty books if not more. But I think his newer books, though not as enjoyable, are still very very very good. And this is Evidence A. This book, 843 pages, blew me away. And it's amazing that such a long book can keep you captivivated for so long. That's the great thing about King, in his other long books, It and Under the Dome, he keeps the pace so well that you fly through them and in the end you say: "Jeez, that was quick." And this book is basically the same. The first 200/300 pages are some of the best work Stephen King is done, the middle 200 are pretty slow, but in the end you understand why they're slow. King wants to get you emotionally connected to characters, so when he kills, maims, or destroys them he can get an emotional response. That's talent. then the final 200/300 pages are also great, espacially the last 70 or 50. Now about the middle, yes it's slow, yes it's long, but power through! You will enjoy this book, especially if you're a history buff, or even if you're not (me) I could still have fun reading it. When I first heard the title, and the plot, in my head I said Uh-oh. I thought that at the time because running: a historical novel by Stephen King... throough my head didn't sound so appealing. But trust me, it's great. Thoough the books premise may not be new, the way King writes it makes it so much more than any other alternative history on kennedy movies, tv episodes, or books. 4.6/5
I really enjoyed this novel. Im not always a fan of Kings work, however this was not how he usually writes. Ihope he writes more books loke this, it was very entertaining. The charecters are very likeable, and you can really relate to them. The adventures are very good, and the era is also well put forth by the way it is described. All in all this was very good. There were a few times that I thought King went away from the main point, but the times were still entertaining and didnt distract to much from the plot. I stayed up hours later than I should have, and finished the book in less than a week, which should have taken over a week and a half. It is very engaging and hard to put down! If you are a fan of Kings, of the era, or of Science Fiction in general, then this is a must read, trust me you will not be disapointed! P.S. this was typed from my nook tablet, so yes I know there is errors in my typing, sorry if they are too distracting. Enjoy!
...STEPHEN KING NOVEL. I shy away from Mr. King's novels because I'm not a fan of creepy, scary, and horrifying works that might cause me nightmares. I have never been to a Stephen King-based film. But, if the Hollywood powers-that-be decide this one might make a 3 hour thriller, I'm all in. AND I'll buy the large popcorn and soda for an extra $15 on top of the $10 ticket! I enjoyed this book tremendously and was rooting for George/Jake to make it ALL right again, and still get the girl. I won't spoil the ending for those who might read this amateur review but the fact there is a last dance is pure genius. The description of life in the late 1950's and early 1960's matches all the other historical accounts I've read over the years. Some of the "simple life' fun described in the book almost makes me wish I was born in 1951 instead of 1961. Anyone who wants read a King thriller sans horror and cars that kill should spend an hour or so a day over the span of a few weeks or 6 hours a day on the beach on vacation...and spend that time with this book. You won't be sorry!
I really enjoyed reading the book. I found the plot very fascinating and worth my time. The Kennedy assassination is such a blemish to US history and it was caused by a normal simple individual. It's a long book (not different from other Stephen King books) but I felt included important elements within the plot to get where he wanted to go. And, I think King's book is long so that he builds the dimensions of reality to these characters. I am from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I took away a 1/2 star because there are details that are incorrect....things he should have checked about (like the existence of certain highways in 1963, how people say the radio call letters KLIF (it's cliff not k-life), or where a location is in the city (check google maps!). Also, I took away a half star for some of the added fluff in the story line that was a little excessive and the ending that, well, is just wierd. Personally, I wanted a little more action/intrigue and less love story. But I still thought the book was fun and enjoyable.
I just finished the book. It would not be possible for me to write a review on this book. I read it non-stop for the last three days and enjoyed every page. It is my favorite King novel, and quite possibly the best book I have read. I highly recommend it. All 850 pages.
A huge King fan, I felt he had lost his edge in the last few years. I read Under the Dome earlier this year and felt he was coming back. With THIS book I am convinced! Not really what I expected when I bought the book, but it was a book I couldn't put down. True King style.
The unexpected part is that only a small section towards the end of this page book is about 11/22/63 and the butterfly effect of preventing the JFK assassination. The book is about so much more: the concept of history as an organic entity that physically resists change; the ethical and moral dilemmas of acquiring power to alter life and death; the culture shock of a modern day Jake Epping traveling back to the 1950's where he becomes enraptured and wants to stay; Lee Harvey Oswald's personal hellish journey unfolding while being stalked by Jake. Even though I finished this book two weeks ago I am still haunted by Jake's time travel adventure and actually am left wanting more.
I was resistant to reading this book initially - prejudging it as overlong and implausible. Having just finished it, I am in awe that Stephen King was able to create characters and a story line so compelling that a plot to prevent a sentinel moment in American history feels to me just one of the many things that happen along with way in a journey I will never forget. If you are in any way tempted to write this off - book by it's cover - as an indulgent fantasy, please please please give it a second look.
11/22/63 is the 34th stand-alone novel by popular American author, Stephen King. This time, the master craftsman of storytelling turns his prodigious talents to time travel. In 2011, schoolteacher and budding novelist, Jake Epping is shown a portal into the past, into 1958, and convinced that he can change certain events: specifically, he is to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President John Kennedy on 11/22/63. But as Jake makes his way from 1958 towards his goal, he finds that the past resists change, that the past is obdurate, and that every change has consequences. Fans of King’s work will be pleased to pass through Derry, Maine just after the events of “It”, and encounter some of that novel’s protagonists. King’s extensive research into the time period and the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination is apparent in every paragraph: the feel of the late fifties and early sixties is very convincing. Once the reader suspends disbelief about time travel, the rest of the novel is utterly believable and, despite the volume, eminently readable. King paints for the reader a very plausible picture of a nascent assassin. This novel has romance, nostalgia, humour, sadness and an exciting climax. King’s main character is appealing and easy to identify with; the supporting characters, no less engaging. The plot is original and brilliantly executed. This is King at the top of his game: an excellent read.