Friday, July 26, 2013

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

This is not my best entry...I am trying to pre-write this days ago (watching one of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Cause and Effect") and publishing it when I will be away.  Actually, as it publishes, I am teeing off at the Tommy Keane Invitational in Hanover, NH.  Past posts about the TKI can be found HERE.

I recently mentioned to Nan that I think reading Stephen King is a rite of passage for readers, especially for males who became readers during King's heyday in the mid to late 1980s.  I loved "The Talisman" and "Eyes of the Dragon" as well as the "horror" novels "Pet Sematary", "It", and "'Salems Lot".  Heck, I read "The Stand" in one "sitting" after getting out of the hospital (I was unable to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time and would be awake for what seemed like days).

I wandered away in college.  I really wanted to like "The Dark Tower" series but it didn't catch me and I stopped following it after the third book.  I think the last King novel I read was "Dolores Claiborne".

This month's entry for the Cephalopod Coffee House has actually received a sort of shout out from another member.  Last month, Tony mentioned he had read this book recently.

I really liked this book.  Time travel has dominated lots of my conversations recently.  As my son and I watch Star Trek episodes, his favorites are the time travel episodes.  The Armchair Squid and I have a common friend who recommended Ray Bradbury's exquisite time travel story "A Sound of Thunder" which gets name checked in this book.

This might not be a good choice as someone's first Stephen King novel.  It does have some neat callbacks to other King works but nothing that hinders the enjoyment of the novel.

King has done his research here.  One gets lost in the time period quite easily.  My only caveat is that it seemed that King actually got too in depth at times.  As the fateful day referenced in the title approaches, King actually has the narrator SPOILER ALERT HIGHLIGHT TO READ get beaten up to the point of near death and sort of fast forwards the story seven weeks. END SPOILER

Beyond that, if you like King, time travel, or mind bending works, this is for you.  While our Cephlapod Host is not a time travel fan, this one MIGHT be up his alley...the cosmic ramifications are spelled out explicitly and the ending is bittersweet and personal.

What's The Cephalopod Coffeehouse all about?  Let's ask The Squid himself!

"The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers."

Click a link below to check things out!

1.The Armchair Squid2.Counterintuitivity
3.Subliminal Coffee4.Scouring Monk
5.A ARTE DE NEWTON AVELINO6.The Random Book Review
7.StrangePegs -- The Ocean at The End of the Lane8.Ed & Reub
9.What's Up, MOCK?10.My Creatively Random Life
11.Jim Devitt12.Hungry Enough to Eat Six!
13.Bird's Nest14.Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood
15.Words Incorporated16.Spill Beans


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I found that recovery period to be terribly convenient, too, considering King had spent the rest of the book covering a lot of other things far more thoroughly.

  2. It's not that I don't like time travel. I'm just picky.

    Have I ever told you about my weird connection with the Zapruder film? So, Abraham Zapruder's grandchildren went to my high school in Bethesda. When his family gave up the rights to the film, it was under the condition that the school be allowed to screen it for students every year. As a result, my high school was, for many years, the only one in the country that was allowed to show it. By the time I got there, anyone could watch it but the screening still had a ceremonial feel the first time we saw it in 10th grade history.

    1. That's ridiculously awesome. In a very twisted sort of way.

  3. "especially for males who became readers during King's heyday in the mid to late 1980s."

    Not just males! I was obsessed with King during that time period, read everything he wrote, even the crap stuff. I also burned out on the Dark Tower (though earlier than you) and didn't read him much until this book. Reading King was definitely influential on me as a writer. Most of my stuff written in my teens and 20s is an homage to King, which is a nice way of saying a straight ripoff.

    I liked 11-22-63 as well; I did feel that he could have cut about 50,000 words from the story without losing any plot, character, or momentum, so I wonder if he doesn't believe his own dictum anymore about killing your darlings?

    Does reading this make you want to read Joyland?

  4. I liked this book although I felt, like Stephanie, that it could have had some of the fat cut out of it. It does leave one in a bittersweet melancholic mood.

  5. I have to admit that time travel, Stephen King, and mind-bending works are not my thing. I've seen various movies based on King's work, like Misery, Delores Claibourne, It, and the Tommyknockers, and I've never really been taken with what he writes. Misery is probably the best of what I've seen. I've tried a couple of times to read his novels, but the horror aspect just doesn't interest me all that much. I recently had a friend, who's a big fan of King's, tell me she was reading Under the Dome, and she's been very disappointed by the way his style seems to have suffered over the years. You're right. Reading an author's work in his/her heyday is probably the best time to read one of his/her books.

    1. Well, for one contrary example Melville's later writing is clearly superior to his earlier.

  6. Confession: I've never read a Stephen King novel. HOWEVER, I have watched several films based on his books. (I know, I have to read him!) I'm not too fond of his horror stories, but his drama and suspense films are amazing (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are the best prison films I've ever seen!) I also like Misery and Stand By Me quite a bit.

    Time travel is hard to write well, I think. I'm a big fan of the Back to the Future trilogy, but there are other time travel stories I have a hard time getting into. It's the traveling device that always ends up turning me off. That's why I could never finish The Outlander (Gabaldon fans around the world: please don't hate me!)

  7. I have been a Stephen King Fan all my life, that is until somewhere around Rose Madder which kind of put me off of reading him for a bit. I read a few things after that put was again a little put off with Duma Key. However, this sounds like something I want to pick up and read now. (and the list grows)

  8. I read this one a few months ago and LOVED it!

    And I recently began the task of reading the whole Dark Tower series non-stop-straight-through. I'm just starting part six now; two to go after that one. I'm loving it too, but I can't imagine reading it in parts and waiting years to read the next part. I like being able to read it all and not wait for a new chapter.

  9. I'm one of those who has read hardly any Stephen King, even though I am a fan of his genre and do love what I've read of his - thought the Dark Tower was brilliant if horrifying in how it ended ;) - but I do intend to read more of his stuff in future. MUCH more!

  10. I just want to add one last comment here. A lot of people say they hate being a label. Let it be known once and for all that as of this post and becoming a label, I don't think it's so bad.


Why, hello there!


My Favorites