One of the many things I’ve sacrificed on the altar of having more time to write has been the time I use to spend reading. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself “literary” by any stretch. I wasn’t reading many of the Great Books or even much fiction at all. Far more often it was history, biography, social science – books that taught me things about the world. I’d occasionally venture out into fiction. When I did, it was normally of the pulp variety (not that there’s anything wrong with that). My fiction reading also had a heavy dose of Tom Clancy, James Michener, and Herman Wouk. I liked the books that landed on the coffee table with a satisfying thud. I still like books like that, though the thud is far harder to get with a Kindle than a 1000 page paperback.
As usual, none of that is my point. What I want to turn you on to tonight is a Steven King. Some of you might be familiar with his work. I read a few of his better selling books years ago, but I’m the first to admit horror isn’t my thing regardless of whether it’s in print, movies, or television. Even with that disclaimer, it’s impossible not to recognize Steven King’s absolutely monumental abilities as a writer. The guy is just a force of nature when it comes to using the written word to draw a response out of the reader.
Not long ago, Amazon offered up a screaming deal on one of his books that I’d never heard of before. Since before Christmas I’ve been toting the electrons of 11/22/63: A Novel around without bothering to really give it a look. Until this past weekend. Since then, I’ve been off to the races and using every scrap of free time to get through just another few paragraphs. I tend to find King’s books a little too ghoulish and grisly for my taste, but this one… this one is just different.
Without giving anything away, he pulls you in with a story of time travel, righting past injustice, decisions, consequences, and then paints in a truly unsettling dark streak that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s just a magnificent piece of work. If you like Steven King, or historical fiction, or just have an itch for a good (if unconventional) goosebumping, 11/22/63 has the jeffreytharp.com seal of approval.