11/22/63, Stephen King, Scribner, Nov 8 2011, $35.00, ISBN: 9781451627282, Harriet Klausner.
In Lisbon Falls, Maine, Al Templeton, owner of Al’s Diner, discovers a temporal portal that enables a traveler to go back fifty-three years to September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a.m. Each time a person enters the time hole, they go to that same moment, but no matter how long they remain in the past, they return to the present having lost only two minutes while history is altered.
High school English teacher Jake Epping tests Jake’s theory, but when he returns he finds his previously healthy friend dying from lung cancer and admitting he has gone back in time trying to prevent the JFK assassination. With no family to speak of, a lonely Jake agrees to complete Al’s mission though he assumes Oswald did not work alone. Jake tests the concept by intervening in the family of a night student of his who faced a tragedy back in 1958. He soon learns history prefers to return to the original reality though he tries to prevent 11/22/63 from happening.
This is an engaging time travel thriller in which Stephen King makes a strong case that Oswald worked alone, a key element in the plot for conspiracy believer Jake to accept. The story line is action-packed with the changes in history such as cigarette smoking attitudes cleverly devised. Part of the fun is debating the possibility of the changes being reasonable as Mr. King provides an entertaining tale.