Stephen King is not an author I would normally read. This copy of 11/22/63, a large brick based around the assassination of John Kennedy, had been on the shelf for a good few months. My sister-in-law had left strict instructions that I should read it. But she does live in the states, so her views about the Kennedy clan may not be too rational.
11/22/63 is an addictive read, as you would expect from King. It’s also 800 pages long, but luckily you don’t have to bother reading all of them. I’m usually a stickler for reading every page – absorbing the detail – but I was happy to skim pages at a time – rushing on to the next climax.
The narrator here is an English teacher. He spends time reading Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but you’d never know from the narrative voice. That voice is typically King – mostly monosyllabic and devoid of any kind of educated vocabulary or thoughtful reflection of the kind you’d expect from a highly literate character. Those reading choices are a bit cliched too – I mean what about Saul Bellow or Thomas Pynchon? They were there in the sixties too. If I’d travelled back in time I would have chosen a very different reading list.
It’s a hybrid genre – part science fiction – though barely – part horror – though not much – but pretty full of the sort of physically explicit violence that we might expect from the author of The Shining or Misery. Characters have occasional interest – the opening section is better in this regard than the rather tedious and cliche ridden love story: her long legs; he is just taller than her; the mentally unstable former husband. The main characters are both teachers too: of course the students love them, they offer wise advice, are charismatic and display the judgement of Solomon. What utter piffle!!
There you go then. Couldn’t put it down. Irresistible – but like all habit forming activities – best avoided.