For over 40 years, Stephen King has been chronicling America’s fears and collective nightmares. In his new book, he is set to take on one of the most nightmarish incidents in 20th-century American history. According to King’s website, his new novel, 11/22/63, is about Jake Epping, an English teacher in Maine who gets a chance to travel back in time and perhaps prevent the assassination of JFK.
Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane “ and insanely possible “ mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life “ a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Alternative histories are nothing new: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America imagines a world in which Charles Lindbergh is elected president and embarks on a campaign of appeasement toward Hitler’s Nazi government, and Robert Harris’s Fatherland is a thriller set in the years after the Nazis won the Second World War. Still, the Kennedy assassination remains an open wound in the American psyche; King is either very brave to choose this as the focus of his new novel, or else very foolish.