Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story
And what a story this is. I'm not sure where Stephen King came up with the idea for this book, but it's a hell of a thing. Part time travel, part thriller, part love story. I enjoyed the slow build up, the reveal of how the time travel takes place, and the various peaks and troughs that take the main character to where he needs to be on that fateful day – this book is certainly worth a read.
The main character is your typical Stephen King main character, as sort of everyman searching for something
in his life. He's given the opportunity to go back in time and for some reason he and his co-conspirator decide the best use of this opportunity is to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Which seems somewhat simplistic to me, at best. I know this kind of plays out, in terms of the fact that it doesn't really improve anything in the future, but I'm just not certain where the fixation on that particular moment stems from in the first place. I don't get the sense of why they both believe it possible that preventing it would make everything better? However, I have to also accept that 1. I am not American, and 2. I was born 27 years after the Kennedy assassination. So perhaps the impact and magnitude of the event – which I know and feel to be great – is even in excess of that which I can imagine.
I enjoyed a lot of the dallying around that happens prior to get into the meat of the story. As is, I suspect, somewhat common with Stephen King books – though I don't have the grounding to back this up – there is a lot of filler in these 740 pages. For example, the two iterations of the murder of the Dunning father could have been done a lot more effectively. The part of the book with Epping as a high school teacher felt comparatively short, and I was enjoying that part so much that I really wanted to spend more time there. I found the parts where he was trailing Oswald intriguing at first, but they quickly became tiresome. They were repetitive and didn't really add much to the depth of Oswald as a “character”. The whole point from the beginning was that he was a repulsive piece of work, and the only question is whether he was a repulsive piece of work with the balls to do what he was accused of doing. So it's kind of tiresome to spend so much time proving over and over how odious his behaviour is when we already know that. Also, regarding the romance Epping is painted as not being totally convinced at the beginning that stopping the Kennedy murder will fix things. Given the apparent strength of his love for Sadie, I kind of felt like it was unrealistic for him to pursue Oswald with the zeal that he did, sacrificing the possibility of continuing their love. I don't know, I just feel more like he would have stayed with Sadie. It was a sweet love story though.
Overall, I really did enjoy this a lot. I just feel like maybe if it had been about 200 pages shorter, it would have been more special. I give 11/22/63 eight out of ten.