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We Must Begin to View Stephen King Differently
on November 20, 2011
All of King's books carry high expectations given his prolific record of entertainment. Personally, I could not wait for 11/22/63. The premise of time travel and the incredible event the author chooses to explore make for an engaging premise. Mix in the fact that King first envisioned this book in 1971 and one can not help but be intrigued. However, I found enjoyment less in the time travel, Presidential assassination, and conspiracy aspects than I did in his descriptions, tone and atmosphere of the period he captures and the characters he builds and so effortlessly makes to interact in authentic and believable ways.
Having read King's reviews and views in Entertainment Weekly, I know he and I share an admiration of author Richard Russo. The characters Russo brings to life could easily be people we know or bump into in our daily interactions. And I believe that King has comparable skills in this area but is often not recognized as we all debate his horror plots more than we credit his admirable writing skills. He is extremely self-deprecating in this regard having been quoted as saying, "I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries."
The metaphysical time travel aspects of the book may slightly disappoint. The JFK assassination will always fascinate even though King is clear on his view of a broader conspiracy. So those two aspects are worthy reasons alone to read this book, however, the value and entertainment are found in King's exploration of human motivations, frailties, and relationships. His true skills are often over shadowed given his subject matter of vampires, haunted hotels, alien encounters, malevolent evil, and other dimensions. I am hopeful that when his career is viewed in the aggregate, it will be debated and discussed for its true contribution in exploring the balance of good and evil and how that conflict roars in each and every individual.