11.22.63 – Through the ‘Rabbit Hole’ with Stephen King

    Stephen King's bestselling novel, 11.22.63, is available at Vryheid Library.

    “IF you had the chance to change history, would you?”

    Highly acclaimed novelist, Stephen King, invites readers on an utterly enthralling journey through time in his number one best-selling novel, 11.22.63, where one man is faced with this profound decision and is compelled to make a choice that will change not only his life, but could inevitably unravel the entire fabric of time.

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    Jake Epping is a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, earning extra money teaching a class of adults studying for their General Equivalency Diploma. His story begins as an encounter with a learning-impaired janitor named Harry Dunning, who submits an essay describing ‘The Day that Changed my Life’ in which he recalls the night that his alcoholic father murdered his entire family with a sledgehammer and left him brain damaged and with a permanent limp.

    “It wasn’t a day but a night. The night that change my life was the night my father murdirt my mother and two brothers and hurt me bad. He hurt my sister too, so bad she went into a comah. In three years she died without waking up. Her name was Ellen and I loved her very much…”

    The essay moves Epping, who describes himself as “emotionally blocked” to tears and Dunning gets an A+ for his horrifying tale of the bone-chilling gruesome multiple murder that transpired on Halloween night in 1958.

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    In 2011, two years after Harry’s graduation, Epping finds himself at a local diner, where the mortally ill owner of the eatery, Al Templeton, reveals the existence of a secret portal to 1958 hidden in the pantry. Templeton’s rapidly deteriorating health compels him to seek Jake Epping’s assistance on a mission to change the course of history by travelling through the “Rabbit Hole” to September 9, 1958, 11:58am, and preventing the assassination of John F Kennedy which took place five years later on November 22, 1963 – 11.22.63.

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    But Jake is hesitant and embarks on a trial mission to test Templeton’s theory on meddling with the past by paying a visit to the Dunning home on that fateful Halloween night in 1958.

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    What ensues is a thought-provoking adventure into the insane, as Epping ventures from the fast-paced and technology-driven lifestyle of modern times, through the “Rabbit Hole” into the era of “Elvis Presley, big American cars and Lindy Hopping” in search of Harry’s murderous father, Frank Dunning and JFK’s twisted assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

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    When even the slightest interference in the past can create a ripple effect through time, what tidal wave could be set in motion in the five years that Epping must wait before completing his mission to change history?

    Especially when history does not want to be changed…

    “The past is obdurate. The past harmonises.”

    11.22.63 is a thoroughly researched historical fiction novel, penned by one of the most celebrated writers of our time, Stephen King, who was incidentally 11-years-old when JFK was assassinated. King originally tried to write this book in 1972, but dropped the project due to the impracticality, at the time, of the daunting amount of research it would require.

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    Published in 2011 by Hodder and Stoughton, 11.22.63 quickly became a number-one bestseller, staying on The New York Times Best Seller list for 16 weeks. It won the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the 2012 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel, according to Wikipedia, and was nominated for the 2012 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, as well as the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. In 2016, the novel was adapted into an eight part miniseries, with James Franco playing the lead role.

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    Stephen King’s 11.22.63 is 740 pages of riveting reading (look out for references to Stephen King’s It within the story) that will captivate the ‘Constant Reader’ from the first line of the introduction to the very last full stop of the Author’s Afterword.

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    Watch the trailer for the mini-series below. Bear in mind, there are several differences between the book and the adaptation…

    Elaine Rodway

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