Each year, The Typical Book Group picks a BFB (Big Fat Book) to read over the summer. This year, we chose 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Although I liked Stephen King as a teenager when it was fun to read scary stories, I drifted away from him when I actually became old enough to see R rated movies, and didn't need to read the book anymore. The last King book that I read was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, which I read in one day, while my husband and I motored our boat from Mackinac Island to Port Huron with another couple. I was pregnant with my 12 year old then, so you could say it's been a while since I spent time with King.
I was intrigued by what I had read about 11/22/63 before I started it. It seemed like it was something different from the type of book that I think of King writing, and I was impressed that it had made the NYT Notable Books list for 2011. Instead of being a horror film waiting to be be produced, 11/22/63 was said to have an interesting plot. It is the story of a man who travels back in time in an attempt to stop the Kennedy assassination. The time traveler wants to save Kennedy, but more than that, he wants to find out what would have happened if Kennedy had lived. Would we have gone to Vietnam? Would the 60's race riots have happened? Would we all be living in Camelot?
Right now I am half way through this BFB, and I'm finding it hard to put down. I keep telling myself "just one more chapter" and then reading two or three or ten. My guess is that although the first half of the book took me almost two weeks to get through, the next 450 pages are going to fly by. What has really surprised me is how good King's writing is. I know, I know - he's a best selling author. But he's a best selling author whose books one can buy at a drug store or an airport. He's not exactly known for being high brow. I have really taken to his voice, and reading 11/22/63 is making me feel like I've gotten back in touch with an old friend.
I'm also about half way through the book I'm listening to on CD, My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. There's something about Pamuk's writing that has me hooked. It's strange, but good. In the first book that I read by him, The Museum of Innocence, there was almost no action, but the story moved along at a controlled pace, and kept my interest. In the end, the action found the story in a way that both defied and affirmed the obvious foreshadowing. In My Name is Red, there is actually quite a lot of activity, but it still feels like the story is moving at the same calm pace as that in Museum. Pamuk seems to have found a way to control the reader's emotions, and somehow use them to shape the interpretation of his story.
I'll tell you more about these soon. 11/22/63 is calling to me, and I want to go read!