Stephen King 2011
The Book Jacket Blurb:
It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away -- a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer.
Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life -- like Harry's, like America's in 1963 -- turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession -- to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
So begins Jake's life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there's Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore.
Time travel has never been so believable . Or so terrifying.
What Hooked Me:
I just realized that I have only read a handful of books about time travel. And judging from how much I love this one, I should probably read more on the subject. I should also read more novels by Stephen King, that is, if I can find the right mix just like this one: not too gory nor terrifying, suspenseful and convoluted, but also sweet and sentimental. Masterfully written, this book is dazzling and so totally engrossing, you will hardly notice that it is almost 900 pages. During the weekend that I read this book, I was totally back in the 60's and just like Jack Epping a.k.a. George Amberson, a good part of me wanted to stay.
'I have never been what you'd call a crying man.
My ex-wife said that my "nonexistent emotional gradient" was the main reason she was leaving me (as if the guy she met in her AA meetings was beside the point).'(opening lines)
'I had not yet entered the fog of unreality that would soon swallow me, but the first tendrils were seeping around me, and I felt them. It wasn't a summer cold that had caused the hoarseness I'd heard in Al's voice, nor the croaking cough. Not the flu, either. Judging by the sign, it was something more serious.'(15)
'You know how, on a bright day, you can close your eyes and see an afterimage of whatever you were just looking at? It was like that. When I looked at my foot, I saw it on the floor. But when I blinked -- either a millisecond before or a millisecond after my eyes closed, I couldn't tell which -- I caught a glimpse of my foot on a step. And it wasn't in the dim light of a sixty-watt bulb, either. It was in bright sunshine.'(27)
"Two minutes. I told you, it's always two minutes. No matter how long you stay. He coughed, a spat into a fresh wad of napkins, and folded them away in his pocket. "And when you go down the steps, it's always 11:58 A.M. on the morning of September ninth, 1958. Every trip is the first trip."(45)
"And every person you meet is meeting you for the first time, no matter how many times you've met before."(45)
'Life turns on a dime, and when it does, it turns fast.'(212)
"The past is obdurate, Al. It doesn't want to be changed. ... But what I think now is that the resistance to change is proportional to how much the future might be altered by any given act."(232)
'The Book Depository wasn't a ruin, but it conveyed the same sense of sentient menace. I remembered coming on that submerged, soot-blackened smokestack, lying in the weeds like a giant prehistoric snake dozing in the sun. I remembered looking into its dark bore, so large I could have walked into it. And I remembered feeling that something was in there. Something alive. Something that wanted me to walk into it. So I could visit. Maybe for a long, long time.'(293)
'...life's simplest answers are often the easiest to overlook.'(303)
'Want to know the best thing about teaching? Seeing that moment when a kid discovers his or her gift. There's no feeling like on earth like it.'(322)
'Artistic talent is far more common than the talent to nurture artistic talent. Any parent with a hard hand can crush it, but to nurture it is much more difficult.'(330)
'Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.'(399)
'Sometimes a man and a woman reach a crossroads and linger there, reluctant to take either way, knowing the wrong choice will mean the end .. and knowing there's so much worth saving.'(411)
"Excellent, dude,' that's what you said. I think maybe you better tell where you heard that. And kick out the jams. And boogie shoes. And shake your bootie. Chill and freaking out. I want to know where you heard those, too. Why you say them and no one else does. I want to know why you were scared of that stupid Jimla chant that you talked about in your sleep. I want to know where Derry is and why it's like Dallas. I want to know when you were married, and to who, and for how long. I want to know where you were before you were in Florida, because Ellie Dougherty says she doesn't know, that some of your references are fake. 'Appear to be fanciful' is how she put it."(427)
'I know life is hard, I think everyone knows that in their hearts, but why does it have to be cruel, as well? Why does it have to bite?'(581)
'For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.'(615-616)
'It's because the brain can't help to reconcile all those thin overlays of reality. The strings create multiple images of the future. Some are clear, most are hazy.'(797)
'The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle's shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless.
And something else. The multiple choices and possibilities of daily life are the music we dance to. They are like strings on a guitar. Strum them and you create a passing sound. A harmonic. But then start adding strings. Ten strings, a hundred strings, a thousand, a million. Because they multiply! Harry didn't know what that watery ripping sound was, but I'm pretty sure I do; that's the sound of too much harmony created by too many strings.'(827)
First Shribner hardcover edition
Personal Note: My URL has changed to athousandbookswith quotes.com.