This just in… Stephen King still a great storyteller


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In 11 /22 /63 (Gallery, 849 pages, $25), by Maine's Stephen King, high school teacher Jake Epping learns that his friend, Al, has been acting as a sort of guardian to a portal in time. It sounds silly when you say it like that, but in King's hands the idea is anything but.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/09/2012 (3929 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In 11 /22 /63 (Gallery, 849 pages, $25), by Maine’s Stephen King, high school teacher Jake Epping learns that his friend, Al, has been acting as a sort of guardian to a portal in time. It sounds silly when you say it like that, but in King’s hands the idea is anything but.

Al asks Jake to do him a favour: to go back in time and stop the murder of John F. Kennedy. It’s definitely not your simplest of undertakings, but here’s the really clever thing: the assassination of JFK is a subplot.

The main story involves Jack meeting a woman, falling in love, trying to rescue her from her desperate life… but, as Jake learns, the future, once written, is damned near impossible to change. Suspenseful and moving, the novel is further proof — not that you need any — that King is a masterful storyteller.

— — —

Them or Us (Thomas Dunne, 354 pages, $17) concludes English author David Moody’s harrowing Hater trilogy, in which the human race is torn apart and humanity itself has changed.

Millions of men, women, and children have turned into creatures of violence — still human, but a manifestation of the darker, murderous side of the species. They’re called, by the ever-decreasing numbers of unchanged survivors, Haters.

Danny McCoyne was a regular guy, a family man, until he changed, became a Hater. Now, having lost his family — having lost, you might say, virtually everything that made him human — Danny, a fighter who’s too tired to fight anymore, watches as the human race nears the edge of extinction.

And the thing is, he’s not sure he cares anymore. Moody has a knack for showing us the most violent, awful things we can imagine, and making us want to keep reading — because underneath the violence and darkness, there’s a glimmer of hope, a small sign that humanity might not be dead after all.

— — —

Tootsie, the 1982 movie starring Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey, an out-of-work actor who dresses as a woman (“Dorothy Michaels”) and becomes an accidental superstar, is considered a classic comedy. After nearly 30 years, American author and playwright Susan Dworkin’s 1983 book, Making Tootsie (Newmarket Press, 120 pages, $19), has finally been reprinted. And, if you’re a fan of books about movie-making, you should consider it a must-read.

Not only does Dworkin chronicle the surprisingly difficult production of the film, she also gives us a rare behind-the-scenes portrait of Hoffman himself, at the time fresh off his Academy Award for Kramer vs. Kramer and still finding his way as a movie star. We see him struggling to find his character — two of them actually — and struggling with his director, Sydney Pollack, to find the best way to tell what was, for its time, a tricky and potentially explosive story.

— — —

Gideon’s Corpse (Grand Central, 449 pages, $9), by the American writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, is the slicker followup to Gideon’s Sword, which introduced the character of Gideon Crew, a former art thief recruited by a shadowy agency to become a secret agent.

He has a rather complicated backstory, which bogged down the first thriller, but now that it’s out of the way the authors can kick the story into high gear.

Here, Gideon races against the clock to defuse a terrorist plot to take down an American city. It’s a fast-moving story, not as compelling as the authors’ rather more elegant Special Agent Pendergast series, but Gideon, after a rocky start in his debut novel, proves to be a smart and likable hero, a guy we wouldn’t mind seeing another time or two.


Halifax writer David Pitt’s column appears on the first weekend of the month.

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