When I tell people I’m reading a Stephen King novel, many are surprised.
Really? Isn’t he all horror? The skeptics ask.
Not all his books. And over the years, I’ve managed to read quite a few that capture the imagination, ok maybe with a bit of fantasy and horror, like few other writers do. King, whose combination of 54 books have sold 350 million copies, have been made into movies and television series, whose written short stories and non-fiction, continues to produce at a prodigious rate.
His time travel tome, (the paperback clocks in at 842 pages), 11/22/63, was recommended to me by a local bookstore employee on a visit to Connecticut a few months ago. I needed something for a long plane ride and even though I have an e-reader, I still prefer the real thing.
The story begins in Maine and moves to Dallas as the main character, Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, assumes a new identity and resolves to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He travels from 2011 to 1960 through a “rabbit hole” discovered by the owner of a diner, who passes the mission onto Epping when he becomes too ill to continue.
The book barrels along at a fast pace. There’s danger and romance, cultural references and social commentary, and of course time travel. You have to suspend belief to enjoy the story and I found myself admiring how King crafted the time travel conceit, making it so credulous as well as frightening. There are plenty of events to convince the reader that the past really needs to remain the past.
So when I heard the novel had been made into a television series, I was curious. Starring James Franco as Epping, and Chris Cooper as the diner owner, the television show seems so far mostly true to the book. Yet I do find myself getting annoyed at plot and character changes and am not sure I want to finish watching the series.
Here are some other King titles I’ve enjoyed: Hearts in Atlantis, Bag of Bones, and Different Seasons, a quartet of novellas that include “The Body,” the basis for the movie Stand By Me and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” which became The Shawshank Redemption, and Apt Pupil, which became a movie of the same name.
When I taught middle school, a favorite unit was “You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Read the Book.” Students enjoyed exploring books that their favorite movies were based on and writing comparison/contrast essays.
What are your favorite books that have been made into movies?