stephen king's 11.22.63. review
My wife and I will be all over that like flies at a picnic serving molasses pie. She's a huge King fan, our daughter went to college on his donated scholarship money, we listened to his 6-CD audiobook on the craft of writing on the way back from Florida, and, well, the topic... I won't take a position, except that of reader. But I'll chime in later.
Oh boy, was I right. I asked the wife, and discovered -- while gingerly back-tracking in my conversation -- that the wife has apparently already bought copy of it for me for Christmas. She didn't admit it... I have a habit of guessing gifts which is why Santa Claus doesn't let me participate much anymore... but there were enough clues.
What would you say to someone who said this?
"I wouldn't want to go back and change history back. Too iffy
in essence, too much good came after 11/23/63 to want to change it and we will never know if JFK would have.
But LBJ did.
Rather have done than play what if."
Well, I was right.. it was, indeed, one of the gifts under the tree. I haven't read it yet... not much interest, to be honest... it's a big thing, 1,245 pages -- we got the large print edition to grandma could read it too.. and I browsed briefly enough.
In the afterword to what he describes as a novel of time-travel, the author says:
"Early in the novel, Jake Epping's friend Al puts the probability that Oswald acted alone at 95% percent, After reading a stack of books on the subject almost as tall as I am, I'd put the probability at 98%, maybe even 99. Because all of the accounts, including those written by conspiracy theorists, tell the same simple American story: here was a dangerous little fame-junkie who found himself in just the right place to get lucky. Were the odds of it happening just the way it did long? Yes. So are the odds of winning the lottery, but someone wins one every day.
Probably the most useful source-materials I read in preparation for writing this novel were Case Closed, by Gerald Posner; Legend, by Edward Jay Epstein (nutty Robert Ludlum stuff, but fun); Oswald's Tale, by Norman Mailer; and Mrs. Payne's Garage, by Thomas Mallon. The latter offers a brilliant analysis of the conspiracy theorists and their need to find order in what was almost a random event. The Mailer is also remarkable. He says that he went into the project (which excludes extensive interviews with Russians who knew Lee and Marina in Minsk) believing that Oswald was the victim of a conspiracy, but in the end came to believe -- reluctantly -- that the stodgy ole Warren Commission was right: Oswald acted alone.
It is very, very difficult for a reasonable person to believe otherwise. Occam's Razor -- the simplest explanation is usually the right one.
I was also deeply impressed -- and moved, and shaken -- by my rereading of William Manchester's Death of a President. He's dead-wrong about some things, he's given to flights of purple prose (calling Marina Oswald "lynx-eyed", for instance), his analysis of Oswald's motives is both superficial and hostile, but this massive work, published only four years after that terrible lunch hour in Dallas, is closest in time of the assassination, written when most of the participants were still alive and their recollections were still vivid.... his narrative of 11/22's events is chilling and vivid, a Zapruder film in words.....
I hate to bore you with my Academy Awards speech -- I get very annoyed with writers who do that -- but I need to tip my cap to some other people, all the same. Big Number One is Gary Mack, curator of The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. ... Thanks are also due to Nicola Longford, the Executive Director of the Sixth Floor Museum, and Megan Bryant, Director of Collections and Intellectual Property...."
Next time I'm up in Orono, I think I have a delivery to make.
Good one Ed thanks, I too received it, first scan was it's scary iethrow:and anyone who uses Mrs Paine's junk garage as reference, well that ends it before it begins...i figure he's establishment, therefore i do believe his mind was kind of made up before he took pen or whatever in hand, it is another door stopper, come summer....imo...garbage in therefore garbage out..thanks b:wavey:btw happy new year, wishing you and yours the very best of health, wealth, and wisdom for the new year...b
King is a great writer, a thoughtful student of popular culture, a witty critic and a warm and engaging raconteur, but his lack of critical sophistication - a boon when it comes to the readability and narrative energy of his novels - lets him down here. Anyone noting Posner's CASE CLOSED as being a help to research frankly hasn't bothered to explore the alternatives. King is a perceptive student of common human nature, but the assassination wasn't carried out by normal people. I expect King has read his share of spy novels but has never paid much mind to how the intelligence agencies in his country really work. I'd be curious too how his 'research' covered the numerous witnesses that disagree with the official story. I expected little else from King, but what a waste.
The DPF crew can assemble a list of books that can at least reach to his knees which will offer a different perspective and, if we take up a collection and buy them used, they can be delivered to his wife Tabitha whom he states believes the opposite of what he does. Maybe she can convince him to read them in his retirement (or at least ask an occasional provocative question).
And best wishes to you and yours for the coming years... if they make it through the straits of Hormuz, Mayan predictions, and global warming.
King Has More Than One Agenda
King is promoting the lone gunman theory in this book, disregarding common sense and mountains of evidence to the contrary. He also has a larger theme about one random event or one person radically changing the future. This is also elaborated upon at the end of the book where he claims that Jack Ruby only shot Oswald because he happened to be in the right place at the right time by a series of chance occurrences involving one of Ruby's employees. He claims this employee is the reason for the proliferation of conspiracy theories, since her actions kept Oswald from going to trial (hogwash of course).
He claims to subscribe to the debunker's theory that so-called "conspiracy theorists" only engage in such speculation because they need to draw meaning from events and can't stand the fact that a "random person" like Oswald could have brought down a great man like JFK. The ongoing theme in this book is that "if only" this or that hadn't happened, JFK would have lived.
This is nonsense of course, when you know how many forces were at work in the case of JFK's death. If they hadn't succeeded for some reason on 11/22/63, they would have done it some other day. They had already had an earlier plan in Chicago.
This attempt to make life seem like a series of random occurrences is an obvious weak attempt to deflect blame away from the shadow government. It also serves to keep peons feeling like they have no control over the present or the future, since there are random nutcases hiding around every corner.
The redeeming factor in this book is that he admits his wife subscribes to JFK conspiracy theories, after saying that no reasonable person could possibly do so. The fact that he made this contradiction public gives me a little bit of hope.