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Interesting,
Informative,
Dramatic

55 reviews

11/22/63: A Novel
by Stephen King

Published: 2012-07-24
Paperback : 880 pages
225 members reading this now
179 clubs reading this now
115 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 54 of 55 members
One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco


ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

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Introduction

One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco


ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

8

On Monday, March 25, Lee came walking up Neely Street carrying a long package wrapped in brown paper. Peering through a tiny crack in the curtains, I could see the words REGISTERED and INSURED stamped on it in big red letters. For the first time I thought he seemed furtive and nervous, actually looking around at his exterior surroundings instead of at the spooky furniture deep in his head. I knew what was in the package: a 6.5mm Carcano rifle—also known as a Mannlicher-Carcano—complete with scope, purchased from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago. Five minutes after he climbed the outside stairs to the second floor, the gun Lee would use to change history was in a closet above my head. Marina took the famous pictures of him holding it just outside my living room window six days later, but I didn’t see it. That was a Sunday, and I was in Jodie. As the tenth grew closer, those weekends with Sadie had become the most important, the dearest, things in my life. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. How would you describe Jake Epping—what kind of man is he? How does his ex-wife see him? How do others see him. How do you see him?

2. Why does Jake agree to go back in time—what are his reasons? At this stage in your own life, would you be willing to travel back to the past? What conditions would you require to do so?

2. Why does King inject the Derry, Maine, subplot into the main plot? Is the Dunning episode necessary to the story—or does it drag down the novel's pace?

3. Describe the world of 1958 in which 2011 Jake finds himself. What is appealing about the era...and what is unappealing?

4. Once in Texas, what does Jake, now George Amberson, come to learn about Lee Harvey Oswald? What kind of character is Oswald? When Oswald arrives on the scene, why doesn't Jake/George just take him out? Why does he delay?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: What makes Jake/George (and the author) conclude that Oswald acted alone? Do you think he did? Have you done any previous reading/research that suggests Oswald was not a lone gunman?

6. Jake/George has come to believe that life is not random:

Coincidences happen, but I’ve come to believe they are actually quite rare. Something is at work, O.K.? Somewhere in the universe (or behind it), a great machine is ticking and turning its fabulous gears.

What does Jake/George mean? Do you believe in a "great machine," an over-arching fate, or God who oversees and intervenes in our lives. Do "things happen for a reason"? What are your thoughts?

7. What is the nature of time as presented in 11/22/63? Consider the following:

• Time doesn't want to be changed: time is "obdurate." Why?
• Harmonies crop up, similarities in names and events. Why?
• The butterfly effect—what is it?
• The Yellow Card Man—is he a sentinel?
• Time is like a string; changing events tangles the strings.

8. Follow-up to Question 7: What does the novel, ultimately, seem to suggest about the human desire to alter the past?

9. Follow-up to Questions 7 & 8: How does the novel present the notion of history? Is history shaped by individuals whose actions, discoveries, and intentions alter the course of events? Or is history created by the interconnectedness of a multitude of events, generated by forces bigger than any single individual?

10. King has a talent for taking supernatural events and locating them in everyday, mundane settings. How does he do that in 11/22/63? Does he pull it off...or does he falter?

11. 14. Why does Sadie sense that there's something odd about Jake/George? What are some of the ways that George's knowledge of the future betray him? Why does he withhold the truth from Sadie for so long? How would you react if someone told you he/she came from the future?

12. How would you classify this book? Historical fiction? Science fiction? Alternate history? Romance? Thriller? Realism? Is it suspenseful—did you find yourself rushing to turn the page? Were you expecting George to succeed—or fail—in his mission?

13. SPOILER ALERT: Talk about Jake/George's decision to return to 2011. Why does he make the choice he does? Do you wish he had chosen differently?

14. SPOILER ALERT: Talk about the dystopian world Jake returns to in 2011. What were the series of events that led up to the conditions he finds?

15. If you've read other Stephen King books, or seen the movies, how does this book compare with his others? Has he jumped his usual genre...or expanded it? Does that fact that King's normal genre is fantasy-horror make him especially equipped as an author to write a book like 11/22/63?

Questions issued by LitLovers

Suggested by Members

Discuss the theme of “Life turns on a dime.” How does this theme play throughout the novel? How do you feel about this line? Have you experienced this in your own life?
In Chapter fifteen, Jake/George tells us why Jodie, TX is home: “Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.” What did you think of this? How does Jake come to think of the 1960’s and Jodie as home? What does that mean for him?
At the end of his story Jake says: “Philip Nolan was the Man Without a Country; I am the Man Without a Time Frame.” Discuss Jake’s new relationship with the past and present.
by RockinRenee (see profile) 02/10/14

What do you think would have happened if Kennedy had not been assasinated?
What do you think of the butterfly effect?
by blblanton (see profile) 04/08/13

If you could go back in time to one particular day in your life, what day would that be?
by JeanHerbranson (see profile) 08/30/12

If you could bring one thing back from 1963, what would it be?
by mcberstene (see profile) 05/22/12

If possible to go back for a day in time, what day would you choose? and why?
by alanna (see profile) 02/24/12

Similarities shared with The Dead Zone
by ToddRussell (see profile) 12/06/11

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Hanknlori (see profile) 12/01/19

 
  "Enjoyable read"by jcjwalbye (see profile) 06/26/18

Average rating by our book club = 8.08
Longer than our usual books but a quick read

 
by becelise (see profile) 04/08/18

 
by [email protected] (see profile) 12/07/17

Made me want to learn more about Lee Harvey Oswald; King really did his research!

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