Stephen King’s 11/22/63

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King | LibraryThing

King, S. (2011). 11/22/63: A novel. New York: Scribner. 9781451627282

Reasons for Reading : I read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone a few years ago after reading King’s memoir On Writing. In The Dead Zone, teacher and coma survivor John Smith asks “If you could kill Hitler, would you?” When I saw 11/22/63 on the NYT Bestsellers List, I realized King took this same question in a different direction. I added my name to the waiting list for a copy from HCPL. Later, I purchased a copy from the Friends of Freeman Library Bookstore.

Summary: Jake Epping teaches English at Lisbon Falls High in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He also earns
extra money by taking on GED courses. Reading janitor Harry Dunning’s essay about the horrific night when Harry lost his family and gained a limp fifty years prior moves the normally dry-eyed Jake to tears.

Soon after Harry earns his GED, diner owner Al shares a secret with Jake; there’s a portal outside his supply room which leads to September 1958. Thus, Al enlists Jake on a mission to save JFK from assassination.

What I Liked : I appreciated the short segments which allowed me to read a little bit at a time. I also enjoyed the whole “What if?” aspect. I liked how King limited some of the possibilities by creating a 1958 portal instead of putting Jake into a time machine that could go anywhere or anytime.

What I Disliked : As a Texan (a Houstonian), my familiarity with state geography is above average 🙂 . I wouldn’t describe Dallas and Killeen as being all that close. Also, Killeen has two “L’s” unlike how it’s spelled throughout the book. Then, there’s the whole saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That’s because the state itself is the second biggest in the USA. Having gone to college in Waco which is in Central Texas, I can attest to the fact that I could not smell the oil fumes from Midland and Odessa. Lastly, I didn’t think this book should’ve been over 800 pages!

 Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: In the Mood by Glenn Miller – YouTube

Setting : Maine, Florida, Texas

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Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch: The redemption of Christopher Columbus

Pastwatch: The redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Card, O. S. (1996). Pastwatch: The redemption of Christopher Columbus. New York: TOR. 9780312850586

One of the programs offered at the library takes place every August. This is the AP Book Discussion sessions. One of the books some of the kids in Clear Creek I.S.D. read was Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch: The redemption of Christopher Columbus. As I’m not the biggest Sci-Fi fan, I had never read Card but the time travel motif appealed to me. So, I picked up this book in February.

Initially, we have two storylines. The first one reads like a biography of Christopher Columbus (taking place in the late 1400s.)  The other line introduces people living in the twenty-third century. They are living in a depleted planet and a group called Pastwatch studies human history.

Columbus struggles to make his way to the Far East. Tagiri, generations into the future, observes the past with her TempoView in Juba, Sudan. Tagiri studies her genealogy, finding a boy stolen into slavery. She leads a group to find that all the woes of the world were begotten by slavery. Additionally, she sees that the one who brought it to the Western Hemisphere was no other than Columbus. When Tagiri and Pastwatcher Hassan realize Haitians in the 1400s can Tagiri and Hassan, they study the chances of changing the past to preserve a future. Tagiri and Hassan marry, have two children. Their daughter, Diko, joins their effort. Also, the great Kemel and the “underachiever” Hunaphu get on board.

These concepts of alternate history, time travel, and undoing slavery still fascinate me. Also, I was quite impressed with a historical figure that I took for granted. Card presents many questions; “If I could undo a wrong, would I?,” “Was Columbus the vector of slavery?,” and “Why did Columbus go West?”

While the plot intrigues, the characters and the dialogue was hard for me to buy. A five year old Diko asked her mother if she were cute at two. That’s unrealistic! Furthermore, I’m not sure I buy Tagiri being a compassionate woman. I found the guys – Kemel, Hunaphu, and Columbus – much more believable.

Here’s my last question: Where are the other Pastwatch books?

Three Out of Five Pearls

Places: Juba, Sudan; Genova, Italy; Lagos, Portugal; Spain; Hispaniola, Mexico

Word Bank: Caravel,

For more on Card’s Pastwatch: The redemption of Christopher Columbus, please check out the following links: