Just finished 11-22-63, and I have to say that this is Stephen King's most grown-up book. Yes, ostensibly, it is about a man who goes back in time to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, but that is really just a McGuffin that sets a story about love, living, and choices. Jake Epping, a school teacher, gets a call from a casual acquaintance who asks him to come to the diner he owns. Al, from the day before, when Jake ate at the diner, to the day of the call, has lost 30-40 pounds, gone completely white, and aged significantly. He shows Jake a “rabbit hole,” a bubble in time, that allows one to travel back to a September day in 1958, and return to the present (2011). You can stay as long as you like, can change the flow of time (though, as we learn, the past resists change), and when you return to the present, exactly 2 minutes have passed. If you go again, everything that you did the time before resets and you come back 2 minutes later. Al, dying of lung cancer, tells Jake that on his last trip he had been trying to stop Oswald. If Kennedy survived his trip to Dallas, the years afterwards would obviously be completely different; Al theorizes that 50,000+ Americans and who knows how many Vietnamese would not have died, no Nixon., etc. But, Al got cancer in early 1963 and had to abandon his mission. Al explains that you can change things, but the past resists (it’s obdurate). The bigger the change, the more the resistance, hence Al’s cancer. The past also harmonizes. Jake, who is childless, divorced, and whose parents have died, has nothing tying him to the present, and agrees to take on Al’s mission, but only if he can convince himself that the past can be changed (a side trip to prevent a heinous crime) and that Oswald acted alone (his morals won’t allow him to kill a “patsy”, as Oswald described himself after the assassination). That is the setup, but as I said, it exists primarily to tell the story of Jake (who calls himself George in the 50’s and 60’s) coming to grips with living in that era, observing the wonderful (a glass of root beer) and the wretched (a gas station in the south with a men’s room, a ladies’ room, and a sign pointing to a plank across a stream for “coloreds”), and making a life for himself in an alien world (besides the time travel aspect, Jake, being a King character, is from Maine and has to settle in Texas). The rabbit hole dumps him in September, 1958; he has to live in the past for over 5 years before Kennedy’s Dallas trip. Jake makes a life for himself in the past, makes good friends, works as a teacher, and falls in love. Jodie, Texas, where Jake lives, looks very much to me like the town of Anarene from “The Last Picture Show” a movie a King character obsessed over in “Lisey’s Story.” Jake’s fictional friends, neighbors, co-workers, and loved one all have great depth and substance. I cared about them a great deal. Somewhere in the middle of the book, Jake (as George) directs a high school play of “Of Mice and Men” and King’s description of the high school kids acting out George (because the past harmonizes) and Lennie’s tragic final scene, followed by the death of one of Jake’s beloved friends (even though expected) were a one-two punch that left me with very moist eyes and a catch in my throat. To tell this story, given Jake’s reluctance to take on Oswald if he wasn’t acting alone, King has to come down on one side or another of the Warren Commission’s final verdict. Jake, when not living his life, occasionally stalks Oswald trying to find the smoking gun (pun sort of intended) that he acted alone. IMO, these scenes are the only parts of the book that drag slightly. But, honestly, the direct tale of Oswald and the assassination are probably less than 20% of the story. The past is obdurate and it harmonizes, and the roadblocks and harmonics that Jake observes are the larger story. Some complain that 11-22-63, at 800+ pages, is too long, a common complaint with King’s books. Those who live for his stuff love his writing (he has said the he writes like fat ladies diet) and hang on his every word. I was so disappointed when I finished it, saddened that I had to leave these characters behind. Last comment: With King, frequently it is the side details that flesh out the story and make it whole. In “Danse Macabre,” King categorizes the trail of bread crumbs in “Hansel and Gretel” as this kind of side detail. In 11-22-63, my favorite detail was about Al, the dinner owner who introduced Jake to the rabbit hole. Early in his exposition, he explains how he manages to both sell the cheapest but tastiest burgers in town (some townspeople wonder about the neighborhood cats and dogs, his prices are so cheap), and yet still lead a comfortable UMC life. As, Al explains it, he has taken himself out of the current economy. He regularly goes to 1958 and buys 10 pounds of ground chuck for $0.59 per pound and brings it to 2011 to make his burgers. Because of the reset every time he goes through the rabbit hole, he has been selling the exact same meat week after week.