It’s been a long time since I read a Stephen King novel. But when my mother brought 11/22/63 along on a recent road trip and kept stealing moments to read a few more pages, I was intrigued enough to ask what it was about, and then hooked enough by her description to read it when she was done.
I’m not usually a time-traveler fan. Nor am I that interested in JFK’s assassination, since I wasn’t even born when it happened. Still, I found King’s storyline interesting: his protagonist wanted to travel back in time to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting Kennedy. I immediately wondered why King chose this event as the most pivotal in history to change. I decided it was worth a read.
Again, I don’t read many books that include time-travel. It’s too much for me to figure out. Even as King started to explain the rules in his time-travel scheme, I was immediately besieged by questions: But what about…? and was thrilled that as soon as my doubting-Thomas skepticism flitted to the surface, King answered my question. Then another question would arise and I thought, But what about…? again, and King answered my unasked question again. I started to trust him and decided to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Stephen King answered every question I thought of. I started to think he could answer anything, and so my friends and I started posing the same question to each other any time we had a quandary. It became our tag line at work: WWSKD?
Little did I know that one author had basically asked just that. After I finished 11/22/63 (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I picked up another book to read: The Speed Queen by one of my favorite authors, Stewart O’Nan. It was totally coincidental that I opened it up and saw that he’d dedicated the book to Stephen King. The reason why immediately became clear.
O’Nan’s main character, Marjorie, was a convicted murderer sitting on Death Row, telling her story to Stephen King because he’d bought the rights to her life story. She had a list of questions she was required to answer as part of the deal, and she did — along with several writing tips and suggestions for King on how he should write her book. I thought that was so clever of O’Nan. It was a bit of humor in an otherwise dark novel. Marjorie had all sorts of writing advice for Stephen King.
As I wandered around Dealey Plaza in Dallas, I started to wonder what the conspiracy theorists who’d set up shop there would say to Stephen King. There were two of them there that day. Two people who feel compelled to share their own theories on something that happened 50 years ago. This was the second time I’ve been to Dallas, but there were conspiracy theorists there both times, ready to share “the truth” about what really happened on 11/22/63.
I tried to get up my nerve to go ask them what they’d advise Stephen King to write instead, but couldn’t bring myself to subject myself to that. Instead, I hung on the edge of the crowds of other people they talked to, hearing things like “the government had given clearance before…” and “how could a bullet travel through the tree and hit Kennedy?” It sounded like they had a lot of ideas; none of which I wanted to be trapped into hearing.
So I thought to myself — WWSKD? And I knew the answer. He’d do his research and decide what he thought for himself. Then he’d turn it into a novel, exactly like he did.
Would you be curious enough to stop and listen to these conspiracy theorists?
Interesting and well written.
Thanks, Naomi. 🙂
I am typically not a time-travel book fan, but I have heard so much about 11/22/63 that it may be my next read! I am going to have to start getting book reading tips from you.
I was very pleasantly surprised. Stephen King took it in a direction that I personally wouldn’t have, but it made me remember what a great storyteller he is. I think if you’re going to successfully write about time-travel, you have to be. He really delivered.
We ran into a conspiracy theorist while we were in Dallas too. He was so persuasive! We may never know what really happened, but it makes for a great story.
Perhaps if I hadn’t been alone, I would have taken the time to listen to one of them. But I didn’t want to get trapped by someone who could be a lunatic without having someone else there to rescue me. If I ever go back with my husband, I know he’ll want to see what they have to say.
I might be tempted to listen, but I would not be swayed without doing my own research. Nice post, Juliann. Very interesting.
I feel like the fact is that we’ll never really know. What astounds me is that there are people there, almost every day, who are still consumed with this topic.
I agree. It does consume them.
Great.. THANKS!!! Geeeezzz !!!!!! Man… one more book is now on my list of books to read when I’m done with language.. thanks for sharing.. nicely written..
Certainly my pleasure. I hope you like the book(s) as much as I liked your compliments about the post. 🙂
I am so surprised Stephen King is still writing!! I thought he was retired. Sounds interesting.
How lovely to have a mother coming to visit – that sounds so lovely.
Our best trips are the ones that my mother comes along on, too.
Oh I’d probably have been suckered into buying the conspiracy theorists books. And Roswell, Princess Diana etc. My current favourite is why the world’s governments don’t allow the manufacture and retail to the public of jet packs 🙂
Roy, believe me. I’m surprised I didn’t. I don’t think I could resist Roswell books, though. 😉
WWSKD? He would make everyone DIE, that’s what he would do.
Sorry, I’m still a little bitter about the ending of the last book of his I read. 😛
I think going to listen to the conspiracy people would be pretty entertaining, but they’d probably annoy me if I was there for sober historical reflection.
LOL. The book you’re referring to could be so many of his. Though if I had to pick my favorite “they all die at the end,” it would be Carrie.
That’s freaky how they actually marked the spot in the road!
And maybe even a little freakier that people want to stand there and take pictures of themselves on the spot.
Haven’t read Stephen King in ages either, and you make this sound like the perfect one to return to. Always love a conspiracy theory 🙂 Great title and well crafted post Juliann.
Thanks so much, Madhu!
This is coming from someone who lived through the unspeakable horror of an assasinated president: We ALL knew who did it — LBJ, so that he could assume the role of president! I’m not sure that has ever been disproven either!
Very interesting. I should have picked up one of the books the conspiracy theorists were selling there to see if that was their conclusion, too.