|(Take me away, I don't mind, just promise|
me we'll be back in time.)
So what is it about this book that redeemed my love for King?
I would argue that it is a combination of things. It's believable, deep and suspenseful. A good recipe of a story that leaves you wanting more but satisfied by its drive and momentum.
Quite a while back, in a previous blog post, my wife and I were discussing the idea of time travel; what works and what doesn't. Can there be time viewing? Can you change the past? Are you able to bring something back? Will this cause a rip in the fabric and create a time paradox? These are the routine things we grapple with on every time travel tale.
But what if something new were added to the mix? You get something more unpredictable.
From what I understand, more time travel stories are throwing out the old rules and starting fresh. This is a complete rewrite to what we've already puzzled over. A step in a new direction and I welcome that.
Though I haven't seen films like Looper or Primer, I am told that they turn the genre on its head, offering new and exciting possibilities.
Change the rules: simple as that.
In King's book, an English teacher(who else?) is coming to grips from a fresh split from his wife who is an alcoholic. As he is coping he confides in his friend, Al Templeton, who owns the local diner not too far away. Al is increasingly looking older as the days pass. Al finally lets the cat out of the bag. He has found a wormhole that leads to the year 1958. The usual, believable skepticism ensues until our hero, Jake Epping, finally decides to take the plunge.
It's obvious that king has done a lot of research for this book. Everything from the racial divide to how much a man could live on in those days is covered. It feels like you are transported to that era. Reading IS time travel, any way you slice it.
Al eventually convinces Jake to change the course of history by saying he should go back and stop the assassination of JFK. A noble cause but not without its strife's.
Turns out that the past itself is its own character in this novel. It is a stubborn, angry, bullying think which does not want to be changed. Sometimes it is referred to as a "machine with jagged teeth." Frequently it throws unfortunate coincidences in front of our hero. A tree blocking the road, a debilitating sickness, a car that threw a rod or a traffic accident, just to name a few. It's reach knows no bounds. This is a really compelling element to consequential time travel.
The characters are likable, the plot is fluid and its considerably shorter than Under The Dome. King held my attention to the very end. The novel is one I intend to re-read whenever I wish to travel back through time and catch up with Jake. And what's great is, I can go there again and again without fearing the consequences.
P.s. I liked the fact that his son, Joe Hill, helped him out with this one.