Tag Archives: Stephen King

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

The Master of the Macabre continues his thrilling recent run of form with this supernatural mystery. Main protagonist Jake Epping is a frustrated small-town English teacher in Maine. One day he is handed an essay written by one of his adult students explaining in horrific detail how the man’s father butchered the rest of his family back in the 1950’s. The essay has a profound effect on Jake. Shortly thereafter he is introduced to a time portal by the owner of a local diner and decides to use time travel to alter the student’s fortunes and also prevent the assassination of JFK, the date of which provides the book’s title and today remains one of the blackest marks in American history. However, upon arrival Jake soon realises that changing the past can have untold consequences for the future…

11.22.63

Word has it that the Master of Horror first started writing this weighty tome as a young teacher way back 1973 (which makes you wonder how much is at least semi-autobiographical), but at the time didn’t feel confident enough in his own writing ability to be able to do it justice. For that reason, it took forty years or so to materialize in its current form. In a way, that is an exercise in time travel in itself!

The back-story suggests that King painstakingly researched and pieced together various aspects of American and world history in order to accurately portray the time period the lead character travels back to, and builds a life in. And he does a great job of it, too, giving the whole book an authentic retro feel as he constantly draws comparisons between modern America and that of the pre-JFK era. As always the characterization is top-notch, and there are even cameo appearances from several characters from his other popular works, most notably some of the teens from the modern masterpiece, IT. Now a little older and wiser than when we last met them.

Being a long-time fan I have devoured most of what King has written, and in my opinion this ranks as one of the best and most accomplished additions to his bulging library. Listed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times, 11/22/63 is now available as mass market paperback, the timing of which, I imagine, is partly to prime the market for the imminent release of Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to The Shining. For newbies and old fans alike, this supernatural thriller is not one to be missed.

This review first appeared in the FREE Morpheus Tales review supplement (issue 21).

Available here: http://morpheustales.wix.com/morpheustales#!supplement/c14cx

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The Worst Month Ever

“When is life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why God? Why me?”

And the thundering voice of God answered, “There’s just something about you that pisses me off…”

(From Storm of the Century, original screenplay by Stephen King)

I’m not one to complain. I am usually pretty successful at convincing myself that however bad things get, there’s always someone worse off. But honestly, July 2012 was a bitch. My family wasn’t killed and my farm wasn’t destroyed, but I definitely think I pissed God off.

My run of bad luck started back in China, where I work most of the year.

Firstly, after spending a sleepless night at Shanghai Hongqiao airport, at 6am the next morning I transferred to Pudong International airport on the other side of the city. On arrival I tried to check in for my 9am flight, only to be informed that the flight was overbooked and I had been shunted onto a later flight. I didn’t mind too much. I only had to wait another 3 hours and was paid compensation. Then, after a 10-hour flight I arrived at Heathrow airport and went to get a National Express coach to Cardiff. It was late. As were all the coaches. My 7pm coach finally arrived at around 8.30.

Again, not such a big deal. You expect these things when you travel regularly. But by now circumstances were beginning to mount up, and I began mentally checking my Karma account. Little did I know, things were about to slip into a higher gear…

I have had my Toshiba laptop for just over a year – long enough for the 12-month warranty to expire – and never had a problem with it. Until, of course, the warranty expired. Then I turned it on one morning to find that there was no file association. I had no idea what to do, so I took it to a repair shop where it was held captive for two days before the owner presented me with a large bill. Problem solved, or so I thought.

I live for my laptop. Don’t mess with my laptop. When I am away it is my TV, my stereo, my communication device, and my work station. At approximately the same time the warranty on my laptop expired, so did my virus protection. For a matter of hours, my baby had no protection and was open to attack.

Obviously, she was attacked.

Some cyber turd hacked into my hotmail and Microsoft responded by blocking my email account indefinitely. Cue several long-winded calls to the Customer Care department and another hefty bill, this time for a software engineer, before my computer was declared ‘safe.’

Next, I travelled to London to see Bruce Springsteen at Hard rock Calling. But the gig was cut short when over-zealous council jobsworths pulled out the power cord as punishment for exceeding a curfew by 15 minutes (see earlier post).

The following weekend, I was mugged by three teenagers who stole my phone and money and left me bleeding by the side of the road. I spent a night in casualty and the next several days giving witness statements to the police. The police took my favourite jeans, and my new trainers, for DNA testing. I still haven’t had my clothes back, nor the items that were stolen, and though the police have suspects they are yet to arrest anyone.

Finally, I recently posted a bad review of a book I purchased on Amazon I don’t usually write bad reviews, but this was a bad book!

Somebody (I suspect the author of the book I reviewed) responded to my criticism by writing shocking, fake, 1-star reviews of all my published work for the same site, under several aliases.

To their credit, Amazon investigated and removed the offending reviews for breaching user guidelines, but while they were investigating, the reviews were there for all to see for several days. I can only imagine how it impacted on sales.

They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, but after this soul-destroying run, I am left pondering… whatever next?


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