New Delhi: The man known for his thrillers and spine-chillers takes a road he has not oft taken for 11.22.63. What comes out of this detour is a 734 page novel that is interesting, but has nothing new to offer.
The novel is King’s mash up of time travel and the ‘butterfly effect’. An intensely researched book, 11.22.63 – is about a chance to stop President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. The defining moment the shots rang out and Jacky Kennedy’s pink suit was splattered with blood – changed the face of America. If you had the chance to change history – would you?
A question that rings clear through the novel – for every incident in history alters the face of the world – through what is best explained as the ‘butterfly effect’ . An incident as small as the death of a high school librarian in 1963 and the murder of an alcoholic deranged man who beats half his family to death in Derry, Maine in 1958 – has the capacity to alter world history. Unbelievable? But King makes it true.
The novel is King\'s mash up of time travel, the chance to change history and the \'butterfly effect\'.
As the story goes – Jacob Epping, better known as Jake, is a retired English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. In a normal turn of events he is brought face to face with a ‘rabbit hole’ in the ‘space-time’ matrix that can transport anyone to Lisbon Falls as it existed on September 9, 1958, at 11:58 am. Jake takes the slip and goes from 2011 to 1958 in a few easy steps. The man who lead him to the time portal – Al Templeton, is a local diner owner whose diner’s pantry has the portal. The rabbit hole is guarded on the other side of history by the ‘Yellow Card Man’ – a disheveled drunk – a literary cliché figure of a Shakespearean fool/mad-man who knows too much and at one point kills himself with a broken bottle shard and on the other awaits insanity to settle in permanently.
Al dumps a very heavy load on Jake’s shoulder – Jake must stop the bullet that kills Kennedy. For apparently – as every true hearted American believes – his death changed the world –not only America.
Jake is not too sure of his capacity to change the past – so he starts with Frank Dunning, the father of Jake’s high school janitor Harry who had smashed half his family dead with a sledgehammer on Halloween in 1958. But with one change in the matrix of events – Jake returns to 2011 to find some results that he would rather not have. Every re-entry in to the ‘rabbit hole’ resets all events just as they are to occur. So Jake, armed with notes form Al steps in to 1958 to make sure Kennedy lives and Lee Harvey Oswald – the man who supposedly killed the President – fails.
Read the 734 page historical tome to find out. The past is obdurate – Jake keeps saying through out the novel – the past does not want to change. The book demands a completion with full attention once you pick it up – but don’t expect any ground breaking philosophy that might change your world. The novel could make a decent movie – hope the producers are reading.
The ‘butterfly effect’ is nothing new – enough movies and books have been around for a while on it. But at the end of the day and the novel it seems that personal history trumps world history. Always has and always will. Sad but true.
If you had the chance to change history – would you?