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11-22-63: A Novel | [Stephen King]

11-22-63: A Novel

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 listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - 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 his critically-acclaimed epic, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it. Named Audible’s Best Book of 2011, 11-22-63 easily holds its own among King’s earlier classics, and Craig Wasson, handpicked by King to narrate, is nothing short of amazing: he has a fine actor's gift for performing the novel's wide range of characters, emotions, and action with great authenticity. — Chris

Publisher's Summary

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 listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a 35-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 50 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.

©2011 Stephen King. All Rights Reserved. (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc

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  •  
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, MO, United States 04-16-12
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, MO, United States 04-16-12

    I was born in a cold, gray mining town in northern Minnesota, and a lot has happened since....

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    "I Owe Stephen King An Apology"

    Stephen King On Writing is one of my favorite books, and I read it every couple of years. Half memoir, half writing “how to,” it is absorbing and delightful. I recommend it to my students and suggest that they read it every year.

    However, that is the only one of King’s books that I’ve been able to read. I’ve tried many times, but kept getting bogged down after 20 or 30 pages. The stories were okay, but couldn’t hold my interest because the writing seemed too heavy handed, brutish, like he was typing with his fists.

    So, after days of consideration, it was with great reluctance that I downloaded 11/22/63. The reviews were good, glowing, in fact, and I’ve learned to trust the opinions of Audible listeners. Plus, the book is more than 30 hours long, which the bargain hunter in me always finds attractive.

    I just finished it tonight. It is a wonderful and fascinating story, based loosely on an English teacher’s obsession with Lee Harvey Oswald and the possibility of going back in time to prevent the Kennedy killing. I also enjoyed the love story, which the author handles with charm, humor and honesty.

    The writing is wonderful, masterful, vivid, compelling. The characters are rich and deep, genuine, involved, and I find myself thinking about them and their lives often throughout the day. Life in small-town and big-town 1958 up to 1963 is mesmerizing, much as I remember it, with the constant but subtle hint of mysterious dangers to come.

    You’ll get no more details from me, only a hearty endorsement. Well worth every minute, made doubly valuable by the excellent and interesting reading by Craig Wasson. Totally believable, wonderfully surprising, and, well, I was going to say something about the ending, but you'll want to find that out for yourself.

    182 of 182 people found this review helpful
  •  
    History Princeton Junction, NJ, United States 11-11-11
    History Princeton Junction, NJ, United States 11-11-11
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    "Time Travel, History & Stephen King: Wow!!"

    This is a great book with a fantastic narrator. A compelling story that keeps you mesmerized from the first word and won't let you go. I love time travel and I love history. While I am not always a Stephen King fan, he is a great author and knows how to tell a story. And he really tells this one very very well ... and Craig Wasson, the narrator, is as good as they get.

    Time travel is not King's usual genre, but he has the skill to do a brilliant job in a form that is extremely demanding. Not only is the form demanding, but readers are demanding: science fiction aficionados are knowledgeable readers. We are a nit-picky audience. To my delight, I was thrilled with this book. King did his homework, both in the history and for the genre.

    If you are a fan of time travel fiction where the history is the focus and not the technology (a la Connie Willis), you will love this, If you are looking for a more typical Stephen King horror story, well, you do get a taste of Derry, Maine and there is a creep factor, but this is much more science fiction/ time travel/ history than classic King. If you're looking for horror, this isn't it.

    Above all, this is a brilliantly well written, carefully crafted, and well researched novel with excellent narration. Top grades all around.

    287 of 295 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D corona, ca United States 01-03-12
    D corona, ca United States 01-03-12 Member Since 2008

    I read, I write; I listen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "King of R/D"

    What I like about a Stephen King book is he does his research, (as mentioned at the end of the book.) A story that centers on such a widely discussed, and written, event in history as the Kennedy assassination would have been boring had he not used many little known historical facts (little known except probably to those conspiracy theorists that are consumed by 11-22-63) and made a plausible story line in the midst of an impossible premise; in this case time travel.
    I feel I got to know Lee Harvey Oswald. I got to know his family and even though it was pure conjecture; I got to know the reason he pulled the trigger on that fateful day in November of ???63.
    The other part of the book centers on the premise of time travel. Can a man go back in time and change history and it he could how would that effect the future? This premise has also been discussed, and written about often but Mr. King uses, in my opinion a clever mechanism in which time is reset every time someone travels back through ???The rabbit hole??? again. In the beginning of his book the owner of a a local diner, Al Templeton, travels back to 1958 and purchases the same beef (at 1958 prices) over and over again which he sells to his customers in 2011.
    The part of the book I found somewhat nauseating was the relationship between the main character, Jake Epping, and a woman he meets when he travels back to the past. The use of ???Pound Cake??? to describe their desire for each other makes me not want to eat it ever again; although their relationship is an integral part of the story.
    The narrator, Craig Wasson, does an adequate job although at times he sounds like a bad Jimmie Stewart impression.
    I???ve read almost all of Stephen King???s books and I think this is one of his best.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 11-14-11
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 11-14-11 Member Since 2010

    I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.

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    "The Novel Stephen King Was Born To Write."

    Let me start with a quick public service announcement; if you have not read Stephen King's "IT", you may want to hold off on this book until you read that story. The first third of this book does deal with the town of Derry, and the history of evil within the town. Readers who have not yet read "IT" will still enjoy this book, and knowing the back story to Derry is not a prerequisite for following or enjoying this book; that said, readers that HAVE read "IT", (and, to a lesser extent, any of King's other books dealing with Derry), will have an enhanced enjoyment of these sections, along with the parallels drawn between Derry and other locations later in the story.

    As others have previously shared, this is not a horror novel. While the overall "big picture" of the plot hinges on a man's "Great Adventure", the vast majority of the telling is focused in on the individual trees, rather than the forest (if you will). Most of the text is a day to day recounting of a man's life, and the pacing is slow. Not bad slow - but slow, nonetheless. The book is broken into 4 files for download, and the slow pacing is especially true of the 2nd, 3rd, and the first half of the 4th file. The beginning is faster paced, as is the conclusion of the story. It's a subtle story of a man's intentions, and as a story of that, it is genuinely beautiful.

    There was a distinct danger of this book turning into a version of "Groundhog Day", and King dodges the possible pitfall artfully.

    The Narration, as performed by Craig Wasson, is a revelation. As shared in a previous review, he IS the character of Jake, sharing his story with you; with all the happiness, sorrow, humor, and doubt that comes with life. He did a spectacular job. There were a handful of places where it appeared another narrator had "pinch hit" on a phrase or sentence; I'm not sure what that was about, but they did a good job getting a very similar voice and it didn't happen often.

    To my recollection, I've never teared up while listening to an audiobook before; but this book brought me to tears 5 times; sometimes out of heart-wrenching tragedy, sometimes out of awe of the beauty and kindness of people.

    All in all, this is a book about kindness, and good intentions. From the first page to the stunning conclusion, it gave me a reminder of how truly good people can be, and for that, I want to thank Mr. King.

    I hope you enjoy it nearly as much as I did.

    219 of 231 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth San Rafael, CA, United States 12-16-11
    Elizabeth San Rafael, CA, United States 12-16-11 Member Since 2004

    I love books! They have always added so much to my world. Between being a busy mom, having a demanding career, and keeping my household running smoothly, I have zero free time to just sit and read a book. Audible allows me to keep up with my reading (or "reading") while I'm working or driving or cooking or cleaning the house. I enjoy that so much - I love Audible!

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    "Already one of my all-time favorite books!"
    What did you love best about 11-22-63?

    The protagonist, Jake, is wonderfully real, good hearted, and relatable. The world of 1958 & forward is so brilliantly detailed! I can't wait to re-read so that I can be there all over again! (Oh, except for maybe the Derry part which is SCARY!!) ;-)


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I love the character of Jake because the reader gets to experience this amazing world along with him. He feels like an old friend by the time his (and the reader's) journey is over. I also loved the characters of Sadie, Al, and Deke.


    What about Craig Wasson’s performance did you like?

    He does great voices for the marginal characters, but his portrayal of Jake helps a lot to make that character even more human and relateable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This story evoked both a lot of laughter and a lot of tears from me. I haven't loved a new book this much in a long long time!


    Any additional comments?

    This book is fascinating, beautiful, and heartbreaking. It's a masterpiece!

    61 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Englewood, CO, United States 11-11-11
    J. Englewood, CO, United States 11-11-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Time travel from the mind of Stephen King"

    Let me preface this by saying I am not one who seeks out Stephen King books, nor am I one who reads or listens to much fiction, but this is the best audio adaptation I have heard in years from any genre. This novel expands on what I like about King's short stories and ties a modern vantage point to the late 50's early 60's experience. Craig Wasson is perfect for the narration as I never felt I was being "read" to. Listening to him reminded me that there is an art to both the writing and the telling of stories and this story drew me in quickly and kept me enthralled.

    133 of 142 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Saint Augustine, FL, United States 12-08-11
    Ed Saint Augustine, FL, United States 12-08-11 Member Since 2006

    Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 11-year-old daughter.

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    "A great ride"

    This was actually my first Stephen King novel. I've seen several of the movies based on his books but this was my first read/listen. The ending of this book was good, but the ride that took you there was even better. When you spend 30 hours listening to a book, it had better be good. This one was. Great characters, great dialogue and excellent narration by Craig Wasson. I felt like Jake was my friend by the time the book ended. I'd have more to say but it would involve spoilers. Need to make productive use of 30 hours? Download this book.

    51 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek B. A strange midwestern city, United States 11-16-11
    Derek B. A strange midwestern city, United States 11-16-11 Member Since 2007

    It's simple really, I am just a guy looking to enjoy the writing and reading talents of others while raising my family the best I can, just Like most everyone else!!!

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    "This book makes me wish I gave 5 stars less often"

    This book makes me wish I gave 5 stars less often, so my rating would truely show the beauty that has been created here! Where do I start? I will go with the reader. Craig Wasson reminds me of, previously thought unmatched, Frank Muller! I say this with great surprise as Mullers work is simply beautiful art that I have never heard matched. He had a way of bringing me along on each journey and making each word believable and each character real. To me Mr. Wasson is doing what only Muller has done for me in an audiobook. I feel the pain and the choices, heck, I found mysel emotionally tied to this new book after 20 minutes. I just don't ever do that. Anyway, I think you get the point. On to the Story: I will not spoil this wonderful/beautiful book here but will just say this book, in my opinion, would be loved by most any person that reads books for the characters in a story. The realism, the plot, the emotion and the fun of this book is, well, I wont say because I really don't want to become even more repetitive than I already have so you can take any of the above descriptions and add it here. If you love King, heck if you don't even like him I would still believe that this book has a really good chance of becoming a favorite of yours. I will say one thing that I do not like about King and that is the bad language. I do not curse and haven't in many years so I cringe every time but it is life it seems and compared to many others it still comes out mild in comparison.
    I wish you good reading, as I think most will love this one

    98 of 107 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marla Surrey, BC, Canada 11-12-11
    Marla Surrey, BC, Canada 11-12-11
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    "Lost in time"

    I feel like I've been away on a time-travelling holiday. The sheer volume (30 hours plus) means that the usual things you do within a three-four or five day time-span become pre-empted by a leap into the nostalgic. I really appreciate the minute details that King injects into the 1958 world of Winston cigarette smoke filled rooms, the social ramifications of spending too much time on a Friday night at someone's home, and the love /hate affair that one can really have with an big-old car.

    Time travel books can be confusing at times, but I think he's done a terrific job. The characters, as in almost every SK novel are either terrifying or very likeable, so there's a predictable comfort zone in reading any novel by this great novelist, but at the same time, I know I fell asleep listening to this book and ended up with a few unpredictable King-inspired nightmares that lingered throughout the day.... throughout the day .... throughout the.....

    53 of 59 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ms. Reevu United States 11-14-11
    Ms. Reevu United States 11-14-11 Member Since 2008

    Ms. Reevu

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    "A Layer-Cake of Thought-Provoking Notions!"

    Wow - this is one hell of a story! It's filled with moment's that make you pause and wonder, "What would I do if given that chance?"

    One again and as always, the characters are so alive, you would think you actually know them from somewhere; like an old friend. This story is about so much more than Kennedy. It's layer upon layer of the human condition, with rich turns and challenges most of us would never want to face. The end brought tears to my eyes, and left me with such mixed emotions and internal conversations, my brain will be busy for a long time trying to sort it all out.

    The narrator is phenomenal! One of the BEST I've ever heard! If there's an award, better give it to HIM! No one would deserve it more!

    60 of 68 people found this review helpful
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