Tuesday, November 29, 2011


You know how I can tell a book was good?  When I have to wait a few days after finishing it to begin a new one.  I finished this one Saturday night and couldn't even think about starting something new until Monday evening.

This is vintage Stephen King.  This is why I fell in love with his writing forty years ago.  This is falling into a book and letting it consume me.  This is talking about it to anyone who will listen.

I was in the ninth grade when Kennedy was shot so I remember it well.  This book took me right back to that era because King captures the culture so well. 

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine.  Al Templeton owns a diner built over an abandoned chemical plant.  In his back room is a portal to September 9, 1958.  Al tried staying in the past long enough to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy but he developed cancer and couldn't stay.  Now, he begs Jake to go through the portal to do it for him.

Besides the time travel aspect, there isn't much science fiction or scary, gory scenes.  This is just a good, old-fashioned story written by an expert craftsman.  It's a long book but I wanted it to be longer. 

Of course, we know going into it that Jake will not be successful.  So, it's fun to imagine how King will end the book.  And the ending is masterful! 


Darlene said...

I just bought this the other day. I think I'll read it over Christmas. I can't wait!

John Michael Cummings said...

re: book review request by award-winning author

Dear Linda,

I'm an award-winning author with a new book of fiction out this fall. Ugly To Start With is a series of thirteen interrelated stories about childhood published by West Virginia University Press.

Can I interest you in reviewing it?

If you write me back at johnmcummings@aol.com, I can email you a PDF of my book. If you require a bound copy, please ask, and I will forward your reply to my publisher. Or you can write directly to Abby Freeland at:


My publisher, I should add, can also offer your readers a free excerpt of my book through a link from your blog to my publisher's website:

Here’s what Jacob Appel, celebrated author of
Dyads and The Vermin Episode, says about my new collection: "In Ugly to Start With, set in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Cummings tackles the challenges of boyhood adventure and family conflict in a taut, crystalline style that captures the triumphs and tribulations of small-town life. He has a gift for transcending the particular experiences to his characters to capture the universal truths of human affection and suffering--emotional truths that the members of his audience will recognize from their own experiences of childhood and adolescence.”

My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY.

For more information about me, please visit:

Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


John Michael Cummings

Darlene said...

Just stopping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year Linda!

Sara said...

I totally agree with you - even to the point of not wanting to pick something else up for a few days!!! I absolutely love the book. I am always drawn to historical fiction, and also to Stephen King, and this book did not let me down - both aspects in one!

HerbieGrandma said...

I was in the 7th grade when Kennedy was killed. I have had this book on my reading stand for weeks. You have made me decide to read it next.

George Komiotis said...

Thanks for this!