6. 11/22/63

11/22/63I deliberately avoided 11/22/63 for several months. All sites that I read about it said it is about the Kennedy assassination. Boring, I’m not passionate about JFK never … so I took time with other books. Until a few days before i had to visit a friend from another country, I had to fill my Kindle with something. Given that I had read everything at home and The Dome a few years ago … why not? It was a very good idea. (Just a little bad for interpersonal relationships – I spent a few hours hidden in a room reading.)

First, to clarify things: Kennedy’s appears on less than half a page in the whole book. On the phone. The novel (with one of the most uninspired name King ever made up, you write only for Americans, and the world has no idea what date in question is!) Is actually the story of Jake Epping ( or rather George Amberson) who discovers that the shed of an restaurant actually leads to the year 1958.

His friend Jake, the initial discoverer of the “tunnel” through time, is convinced that if they would have prevented the JFK assassination, America’s future would be better. From here, the action is obvious: Jake starts in 1958 (under the alias George Amberson) in order to learn more about Lee Harvey Oswald and to prevent him from shooting Kennedy in 1963.

Not even this summary would have convinced me to read the book. But … King is King, thankfully.  “George” has integrated in the society of a small town in the 50s and 60s, returns to his job from 2011 (teacher), falls in love, little by little changes the future …. and (yet?) he leads a parallel life on Lee Harvey Oswald‘s footsteps, who just returned to the US with his wife and their child.

No matter how little I would be interested in conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination, at the end I still got search on Wikipedia how much of what King wrote is fiction and how much is based on facts. Probably we will never know the truth, but King went on the most popular theory, according to which the Oswald acted alone and was not about a group of conspirators.

11/22/63Renting apartments in areas where he knew that Oswald dwells, George follows the family and through his eyes we see an abusive man without his wife, a young Russian girl lost in a country whose language she does not speak. Historical characters come to life, no matter how cliseistic it sounds.

Little by little, we come to November 22, 1963 … but the future does not want to change – and even if you succeed, you do not know what the effects would be. If a butterfly can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world, what happens after preventing one of the greatest tragedies in American history? It takes about 1,000 pages to find out (by the way, I highly recommend the electronic version, the paperback may be successfully used to block the door lock if you run out of bricks …).

In conclusion King did not disappoint this time either. I could say 11/22/63 is approaching his best novels, but a book that certainly worth a few (more …) hour of your life. With one note: As others have noted, already King’s books have become too intertwined to be readable in any order. Although it is not necessary to have previously read other novels without, but with It and Dark Tower I think this book loses much of its charm. If you want to start reading King for the first time, take it in chronological order.

5. Misery

MiseryWhat happens when fanaticism and the reason to live revolves around a fictional character whose adventures are pursued while the reader is breathless? But when the book series finds its end more or less steep and the number 1 fan of the writer decides to force the creative muse and force him to revive the character that provokes disgust and nausea, considering it ground hissing in the literary critics circles?

They are the basis for departing Stephen King’s Misery novel appeared in 1987 and awarded the Bram Stoker prize for outstanding achievements in the field of horror and dark fantasy writing.

The Story

MiseryPaul Sheldon is a writer famous for his novels mostly placed in the Victorian era centered on our heroine Misery Chastain. A car accident that would have been fatal puts him face to face with of his biggest fans, Annie Wilkes, former nurse who carries him to her house and deals his wounds and multiple fractures until they heal.

But the original plans take a horror turn the moment she discovers that the recently appeared book is the final one in the series because Sheldon killed the main character. The aid provided turns suddenly into a captivity where physical torture is intertwined with the psychological and the author’s desire to live was constantly challenged in moments where Annie’s reasoning becomes dark manic-depressive and the idea that she knows better how Paul should behave and how he should write his novel, a new one just for her, the Misery comes back from the dead.

The plot is set in motion more precisely by this oscillation constant between fighting for its life and resignation in the face of death of the main character, who is put in the way various obstacles, more or less difficult, even in the moment you as a reader thinking that he escaped from the hell in which he is.

King’s Perfomance

Stephen King sharpens his brush again until it becomes an evil blade that pushes his characters mercilessly in life, like a butcher cutting chunks of pain and suffering.

Like other novels as The Shinning or Salem’s Lot, where he used his situation or fragments of actual experiences, Misery is based on the reaction of the fans on the novel The Eyes of the Dragon which was rejected by readers that did not belong to the horror genre, King’s experience that created the feeling of being trapped in a genre that made him famous. At the same time the drugs and alcohol addiction and struggle to stop using them have served as inspiration for some scenes in the novel.

Compared to other books that I’ve read by the same author, psychological torture is more palpable in Misery due, in part, to the small decor, because all the action of the novel takes place in the house of Annie Wilkes, where Paul’s activities are limited and the predictable bouts of madness beyond the owners who exercise power with random amputation of fingers, hand or foot.

The enclosure which serves as stage and also provides fascinating element of the novel – the characters who become more clear-cut and which they feel fear or shortness of breath in tense moments.

It’s a novel that I recommend for enthusiasts of this genre because of King’s unmeasurable talent and his ability to weave tangled destinies in nightmares is surprising and interesting to follow the evolution of his writing from all points of view.

4. Salem’s Lot

Salem’s LotA novel absolutely recommended, full of stories and counsel, a classic in the true sense of the word

The second novel by Stephen King, after the phenomenal success of the Carrie, Salem’s Lot, appeared in 1975, became a classic horror instantly being considered at present, one of the most important novels having themed vampires and one of most fearful novels from the master Stephen King. World Fantasy Award nominee in 1976 his novel lost to Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time. The novel was also made into a movie twice, once in 1979 and once in 2004.

The Story

The story of Jerusalem’s Lot is abbreviated Salem’s Lot, a small town in the US state of Maine and its inhabitants must lead a fierce battle lost from the start against the forces of darkness. The main character is Ben Mears, a well known writer who lived in long ago in Salem’s Lot and was trying to get over a terrible drama: his wife’s death in a motorcycle accident, from which he escaped completely unharmed.

He returns to his hometown to write another novel about his Marsten’s House, a truly creepy place, that hides many secrets and memories which Ben himself is not very fond of. Ben acquainted with Susan Norton, a young woman who was reading a novel of his, and they both fall in love.

Susan’s mother, a character not pleasant and very authoritarian, who wanted to keep her Susan beside her and marry her to Floyd Tibbits, Susan’s lover at the moment  Ben appeared in the landscape, she does not see her daughter’s relationship with the new arrived writer in the city as a good relationship and she resolved to separate them. Ben staying at the Eve Miller’s guesthouse, a stately matron, widow and who leads with an iron fist her establishment that constitutes shelter for a lot of great lovers of Bacchus liquors.

Salem’s LotThe small town’s silence is disturbed by a very surprising renting of Marsten’s house, the house that hides a story absolutely macabre: Many years ago there lived a dealer in alcoholic beverages, Hubie Marsten, during the 30s, the years of Prohibition, with his wife; one day he went crazy and shot his wife and then hanged himself.

The house is now rented by R.T. Straker, a classic and expensive furniture trader, which Salem’s Lot residents say no one will buy them. Everyone is courteous to the manners conquered by the new tenant of the house of Marsten and all are curious how Straker’s business partner looks like, Mr. Barlow, who currently is missing, being gone in a business trip.

It begins with the disappearance of two brothers, Ralphie and Danny Glick: Danny is found at some time, but Ralphie remains unfound. Danny is hospitalized and shortly dies of what appears to be anemia, leaving parents devastated by grief.

The other main characters of the story are:

  • Dr. Jimmy Cody – who cares for Danny Glick and who will care for Ben when he is attacked by a Floyd Tibbits mad by the loss of his lover, Susan, for the newly arrived writer that will join the crusade of eliminating the vampire plague),
  • Mark Petrie – a slim boy, with an iron will and formidably cold-blooded that would make any adult envious, a great lover of horror stories and when visited by Danny Glick turned into a vampire, is the only one who knows what to do and manages to chase him with a cross),
  • Professor Matt Burke – the only one who likes Ben instantly and who first discovered the strange phenomena taking place in the small town seem to be the beginning of an invasion of vampires and who has a heart attack when he is visited by the vampire Mike Ryerson, the first man transformed into a vampire by newly made vampire Danny Glick) and
  • Father Callahan – a competent Irish priest, loved by everyone, great lover of strong drinks and he kind of lost his faith).

The Book it Self

Invasion is going by the book, with small steps, but rest assured: it starts with the killing of a black dog on the cemetery gate, then the killing a boy – in the person of Ralphie Glick, a kind of offering to the Grand Master.

Then everything goes from one thing to another: the first that becomes a vampire is Danny Glick, he transforms Mike Ryerson into a vampire, the gravedigger that just covered Danny’s dead coffin with earth, followed by Danny’s mother. Then … you will discover everything reading an absolutely formidable novel, a true classic of the genre, clearly inspired by another classic horror literature, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The Place

We are dealing with the story of a typical American town in the mid 70s. A town that is stagnant and struggling to keep its name on the map afloat, with people who are more or less unusual under the masks of characters that seem as normal as possible, that hide terrible secrets or stories which are not proud.

The beloved priest is a drunk that does not hide it very well – he buys things from the same place – Bonnie Sawyer is a wife that loves a certain young man. But one day gets caught by her husband in full act of adultery and punished properly. Someone locked the house and put up the shutters to admire his collection of ladies lingerie.

Someone else has a collection of porn magazines hidden behind a wardrobe and occasionally masturbates staring at them. Mabel Werts has binoculars spying on everyone and is thus the city’s procuress, a kind of radio-ditch for all rumors true or less true.

A young mother completely unprepared for this role abusing their baby whose only crime is to have a mother and a distorted drunken father, even Ben hides not one but two secrets. A novel absolutely recommended, full of stories and counsel, a classic in the true sense of the word, which I sincerely regret that I read not long ago, but I never late to read a good story.

Finally sit and ask yourself who the real monsters are? The vampires?

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