Wednesday, June 11, 2014

11-22-63 by Stephen King

Back in the day, I read a number of Stephen King's early horror novels, like Salem's Lot, Christine, The Shining, The Long Walk, Carrie, etc. By the time he wrote The Stand I had pretty much given up on horror, and when I tried to read the Gunslinger novels, I was unmoved. For some reason, when I saw that King was writing something new connected to the JFK assassination, I thought it might be interesting, so I put a hold on it at the library. It came in, however, while I was out of town on vacation, and they wouldn't hold it long enough for me to get back to town and pick it up, so it dropped off my radar again for a while. While preparing for my Memorial Day vacation, I saw a "books on tape" CD version of it at the library, and decided to pick it up to listen to on hour ten hour drive to the coast.

The story was interesting, though I knew very quickly that it had to contain some element of time travel, and from some foreshadowing that King did, guessed a great deal of the plot before it happened. It was holding my interest fairly well, except for a couple of things which had nothing to do with Mr. King's skills or the plot, namely the whole format of the thing. First, I read pretty quickly, and a book like this would probably take me three hours, give or take, to devour. We listened to it for at least ten hours in the car, and I suspect we are not even halfway through it. I suppose it is being read at normal read-aloud speed, but it darned near put me to sleep listening to it - not a good idea while driving long distances.

Second, I hated that the reader (who was probably some famous TV personality, if I followed such pop cultural things (update: Actor Craig Wasson from One Life to Live and Body Double) tried to use different voices for each and every character. I'm so used to getting my own idea of what each character sounds like in my head that it was distracting, and even worse when, at times, his characters voices began to slip, and blend. Ick. Just let me hear them in my head, ok?

So, I'm thinking that if I'm going to try the book on tape thing for another trip I'll need to buy something educational that actually requires a bit of thinking and digesting along the way, so I won't mind the slow pace and there will be no need to hear badly done voices.

I'm probably going to have to put the novel on hold at the library so I can finish it and let you know how I liked it. I can jump right in where the CD left off on our car ride (had to keep turning it off when it made me drowsy), and quickly get resolution. King was just beginning to introduce a bit of that dark horrific feeling that he cribbed from earlier writers like Ray Bradbury, filed off the serial numbers, and custom painted to drive like a bat out of hell...or Christine.


ProudHillbilly said...

While I still enjoy King as brain candy, what I've noticed about his recent novels is that there is too much in them. Detail is good, but he needs pared down a bit.

Jon said...

I stopped reading King when his paperback The Stand got too heavy to hold in one hand while reading, so I can relate to that, PH.