11.22.63 by Stephen King
Time Out says
Rating: 3/5, RM110.75
Another month, another slick, silly, screen-adaptable supernatural potboiler from the undisputed master of the mass market. In ‘11.22.63’, King tackles time travel, but that’s only a rusty hook on which to hang the real meat of the story: an evocation of, and investigation into American culture and ideology around the time of the author’s youth, the years leading up to the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Our hero is Jake Epping, a schoolteacher who stumbles upon a time portal to 1958, and opts to go back, hang out and put the kibosh on Lee Harvey Oswald’s dastardly plans. Like most of King’s recent fiction, it’s a fun idea messily handled, taking in corny romantic interludes, dizzying tonal shifts, a seen-it-before timeparadox conundrum, an overload of unnecessary cultural detail and an entire section which will mean nothing to anyone unfamiliar with his time-hopping 1986 spooker ‘It’.
But there’s plenty to appreciate, too, notably a breakneck pace, some wonderfully idiosyncratic turns of phrase and an unexpectedly pragmatic view of American suburbia which undercuts any sense of this as a rose-tinted nostalgia-fest. Like death, taxes and Woody Allen, you can always count on King. Tom Huddleston