The Past Is A Sentient Being

Although a fan of Stephen King, I stayed away from this for a while with the thought “Not another Kennedy book!!”. Needing another King fix, I came back to this one on the “to read” shelf and found, of course, that it is not another Kennedy book. It is more about the sentient, vengeful, “obdurate” nature of time. To pick another slogan from that time, “Don’t mess with mother nature.”

Jake goes back and forth in time changing realities in both directions each time; each time he leaves a slightly different residual, or ripple, effect. Time is not a passive actor, however. Time defends its earlier programmed (by whom?) destinies. Mortal Jake has to overcome Time’s refusals to conform and Time has many vehicles to use. Natural disasters, bad luck, unfortunate coincidences, and (worst of all) love are all instruments used to divert Jake’s attention from his desired goal. As Jake proceeds on his journey in quest of change, he has time to reflect with nostalgia on how much better the “good old days” were. King presents the reader with great music examples, linguistic expressions, behavioral mores, and even food recipes (in an appendix) from the past.

Political correctness police were not yet entrenched in the 50s and 60s, so the enlightened modern reader might require a micro-aggression shield.

Although many readers are aware of the general outcome of historical events in the book; several surprises remain as well as opportunities for “spoilers”. The story moved at a fast, self-sustaining pace that did not allow me to think of possible alternative endings while I was reading. I was surprised that with a subject such as this there were still surprises.

I was a senior in HS in 1963. Coming home from school, I heard the news (much in the way Stephen King describes). I listened to the music King describes, talked the cool talk, and tried to act cool and indifferent. It was easy to get lost in the nostalgia throughout this story. I am still fond of pound cake. (What does that last have to do with anything? Read the book.)

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