Jake Epping = Stephen King
I finished the new Stephen King novel-- all 849 pages-- in less than a week, and while at the start I thought it was going to be about how history would be different if JFK wasn't assassinated, it turns out that I was wrong-- the book is a love story!-- that's right, I read an 849 page love story, which is certainly a testament to the narrative ability of Stephen King, and not only is it a love story, but there's a lot of dancing as well . . . and anyone who has seen me dance knows that I find dancing far scarier than a killer car or a killer dog or a killer clown that lives in the sewers . . . so all I can say to the Master of Horror is job well done, because I couldn't put it down; this is the first King novel I've read since high school . . . I can clearly remember getting a hardcover copy of It for Christmas in 1986 and then wanting to hide from my family and read instead of participating in holiday togetherness . . . and I had the same feeling this Thanksgiving, though Catherine's brother was visiting and we had numerous social engagements, I did my best to keep my head buried in King's novel-- which is very appropriate because one of the novel's themes is that "the past is obdurate" and "the past harmonizes" and I certainly felt as if I was living in my own past, where I much preferred the company of a good Stephen King novel to the company of living breathing people . . . especially relatives . . . and not only that, like in the novel, I was in a race against time, but I didn't have the luxury of a time portal, and I had to have the book back to the library in three days time . . . but enough about that-- HERE COMES A SPOILER-- I've read a few reviews and most of them are very positive (except for some British lady who writes for the Star-Ledger and totally missed the point of the book . . . she thought King should have spent more time detailing the horrors of racism and segregation) but none of the reviews mentioned what I thought was pretty obvious: Jake Epping, the narrator, will become Stephen King once his adventures in time are concluded, as they are at the end of the novel-- like King, he almost ends up an English teacher, helping kids to love literature and learn to write, but, as King says, "life can turn on a dime" and Epping is torn from the past that might have been-- and I think it's Stephen King reminiscing about his love of the fifties-- and what he might have been had his life not "turned on a dime," had he not become the grisly horror writer we all know and love . . . Jake Epping finally returns to his own time-- realizing that you can't change the past, nor can you remain there forever-- but he also returns with half a novel about a small town, a string of serial murders, and the legend of a clown in the sewers . . . which, of course, meta-harmonizes very nicely with King's past and my own, so I think this will be the last thing I ever read by King, because-- as the novel clearly illustrates-- returning to the past is dangerous and can have unforeseen consequences . . . I lucked out this time, but next time things might turn horribly wrong.