This Novel by Maine’s Stephen King Wound Up Changing My Life
As a millennial raised during the boom of cable television, I was never a particularly big reader, unless there was a personal pan pizza waiting for me at Pizza Hut in Portsmouth. So, for a long time, I called myself a Stephen King fan simply because I liked movies based on his works.
When I read The Shining, however, things changed. I saw the big picture that was never fully realized in Stanley Kubrick’s Nyquil delusion, and decided that perhaps it was time to read a little bit.
The problem is, I already knew how everything ended (or some version thereof) from the films. So, I decided I’d think ahead and read a Stephen King novel that had not yet been adapted, impervious to spoilers.
Ironically, to get ahead…I had to go back.
DEADLINES AND TIMELINES
Saving JFK on November 22, 1963 is a solid premise. But as I noted the pure heft of the book – a tome that fell just between the Bible and a Cheesecake Factory menu – I wondered if the twist was that this was the rambling manifesto of Jack Torrance.
As I considered the prospect I would likely meet JFK myself before finishing “11/22/63,” I kept reading. And kept reading. And kept reading. I found myself setting goals for what I'd consume…and spent January of 2014 hooked on a book.
This novel became my life. I still went to work, and all seemed normal, but my mind was quite literally stuck in the early 1960s, growing restless all day until I could finally discover if Jake Epping and Sadie Dunhill had changed history.
In a way, I look back at reading “11/22/63” as my own time travel experience. It was a dimension where TV and Netflix no longer existed and everything I read was projected in my mind.
And when I finally finished, I teared up. Not just because of the ending, where I realized Mr. King had tricked me into caring about something completely different than rescuing President Kennedy; rather, because it felt like losing a friend. Or friends.
It led to a renewed interest in literature that sadly faded. I read dozens of books deemed “similar,” but none hit me the same. And so, I stopped. It was back to TV and Netflix, while reading was reserved for the most horrific story of them all: the news.
In an ironic twist, much of what I thought I learned from what may be Stephen King’s greatest novel was not adequately applied. I made many of the same mistakes Jake and Sadie made in love, health, and seeing the big picture.
So, I'm left to wonder, did this book really change my life the way I once believed? Perhaps not. Though it comes to mind often, when I plan my own real-life adventures with my daughter: Sadie.