11/22/63 – Stephen King | The Multi-Genre Manual

To this date, this is the largest book I’ve ever read!!! (I’m really excited about it, if you can’t tell.)

I don’t know what it is about finishing a long-ass book — a good one, in this case — but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something great. As someone who reads slow as fuck and never finishes series, I’m super proud to have made it to page 842 (even if it did take me 4 months to do so).

I’m terrible at transitions and introductions, so let’s just get into the review!

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The Details

Stephen King’s 11/22/63 is a multi-genre — Sci Fi, Historical Fiction, Romance, and a splash of Dystopian — novel that follows Jake Epping, an English teacher turned time traveler.

After his friend, Al, discovers a “rabbit hole” in his diner that travels back to September 9, 1958, Jake is tasked to try and stop the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. Once Al is diagnosed with cancer, he provides Jake with all of his notes and sends him into the past with hopeful ideas of a better future — specifically one without the death of Kennedy.

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The Review

Why wouldn’t my first Stephen King read also be my longest read? It feels like it’s meant to be.

My first King book ended up being a 4/5, so that must mean I started with a good book. I’ve always heard very controversial opinions about Stephen King, whether it’s his endings or long descriptions, and I was a little skeptical picking this up.

Thankfully, 11/22/63 was the perfect first King read because it had all of the elements I love: marvelous writing, captivating characters, a unique plot, and an alluring, complicated romance. However, I do want to include a TW for male gaze because it made me pretty uncomfortable throughout the narrative, which is the main reason why this novel didn’t get a 5/5 rating (you can only hear so many descriptions of a woman’s breasts).

I now understand the hype surrounding Stephen King’s ability to craft complex characters where you genuinely feel like you know them. Other than Jake’s slight sexism, he has been one of the most 3-dimensional and interesting characters that I’ve ever read. The way he spoke of Sadie was both admiring, yet a little creepy, but I think that harmony is what makes King’s characters so great. He seems, at least in 11/22/63, to be very talented with implementing equally positive and negative elements within his novels. A ying-yang, if you will. As a libra, that is much appreciated.

Speaking of characters, I was shocked and surprised that King had me feeling sorry for Lee Harvey Oswald, the president murderer. This definitely doesn’t help the fact that my family and past coworkers label me as a “communist”, but seeing Lee as a “family man” — I use the term lightly — reminded me that Lee was still a human. Killing someone because they don’t share your opinion is messed up regardless, but I love an unlikeable character, and King portrays him in a light that made me feel bad for the poor guy. King probably made most of it up — he even put a disclosure stating that he’s not trying to explain what happened. Either way, I admire King’s ability to transform a hated man into a, somewhat, sympathetic family man.

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Another aspect that I loved about 11/22/63 is how Stephen King includes multiple genres, like historical fiction, sci-fi, etc. It could’ve been the size of the book, but I feel like I read 5 different types of stories in one. With all the different plots, I feel like I lived a lifetime alongside Jake Epping, and I can truly say that I’ve never felt that way with any book or series. Maybe it’s the amount of description and details or my own personal reading experience, but I care a lot about this story regardless.

To be honest, I put this book down for about 2 months in between reading it — life was busy, as always –, but I didn’t have any problems picking it back up. It did take me a minute to remember the first half of the book, but King was wonderful at keeping me up to pace. Of course, I had moments of “wtf is happening? who is that?” but I usually found/remembered the answer within a few paragraphs.

Let’s conclude with the ending, shall we? No spoilers, of course.

The ending of 11/22/63 upset me so much, but in the best way possible. Now, I know King’s ending are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I admire his ability to catch his readers off guard. It’s something I keep thinking about, and those, to me, are the best types of endings; whether you like them or not.

The way things ended with Sadie and Jake broke my fucking heart, to say the least. I was more invested in their relationship than the main JFK plot, and the way things concluded for them hurt me wayyy more than the state of the world with an almost-assassinated Kennedy. Sadly, the dystopian world was very underwhelming, but I was on the edge of my seat (or bed) to see what happened to Sadie and Jake. Honestly, if Stephen King completely erased the JFK plot, I would probably like the book even more. Then again, it wouldn’t be a King novel without multiple story lines that may not even have any purpose at all? Of course not.

One thing I actually loved about the ending of 11/22/63 was the explanation of the Green/Yellow/Black Card Man. I never really knew what the man represented (I had my guesses, of course), and King impressed the hell out of me with his take on dimensions and time travel. His intelligence definitely shines through his writing and creativity.

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The Show

I watched the Hulu adaptation of 11/22/63 because JaMeS FrAnCo, and I enjoyed it at the time. However, after reading the book, I’m disappointed in the adaptation.

It’s been a while since I watched the show, so I definitely need a refresher to write a thorough review. The one thing that bothers me is the fact that they gave Jake a helper, Bill. Bill’s brought up in the very beginning of the book for a few pages, but they attached him to Jake’s hip throughout the show. He didn’t even need him! I understand that it creates more dialogue since no one probably wants to follow one single guy just waiting for one single day to come up, but I think James Franco could have pulled it off and made it just as good.

I’ll have to rewatch the show to have a concrete review of it, but I don’t even know when I’ll get to it. Maybe one day!

The End

Even though I know King’s 11/22/63 won’t be for everyone — that’s King for ya –, I would 100% recommend it to anyone and everyone. I have always been terrified of larger books, but this book has me goggling at IT for Halloween time. It definitely has some faults and is a little dated, but the characters and writing are enchanting and phenomenal. A super enjoyable read!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | A Poser No More

I’m 22-years-old and I’ve never read the Harry Potter series.

It’s funny how I already know I’m going to get so much shit for this, but alas, we will prevail. At least I’m getting to it now, right?

I’ve watched all of the movies and visited the theme park in Orlando, FL — I even bought an interactive wand — but I’ve never read the books! I might have started out as a possible Harry Potter poser, but I will finish as a true fan.

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Author Disclaimer

With all of the controversy surrounding the author of the Harry Potter series (I refuse to acknowledge her name because she’s vile), I thought I would include a disclaimer in this post.

First off, fuck that bitch. I don’t agree with her views and morals AT ALL. Her transphobic and anti-LGBTQ+ tweets and opinions make me nauseous and enfuriated.

Even though I adore the Harry Potter movies and amusement parks, I wrestled with whether I should start the series at all. I don’t want to support the author at all; however, the Harry Potter world as it’s own entity is loveable, incredible, and heart-warming. So, what do we do about this?

In the end, I decided I would go ahead and start reading and reviewing the series simply for the love of the magical world and story. However, I don’t plan on putting the author’s name anywhere — of course, the book cover has it on the front, but that’s besides the point — and if I start collecting other editions of the series, I plan to only buy used/secondhand books. No royalities for her.

If you’re also boycotting the author, let me know what your plans are and any tips/advice you have!

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The Details

If you happen to live under a rock and don’t know anything about the wonderful world of magic, this series follows Harry Potter, an 11-year-old orphan boy living under the stairs with his horrendous relatives, The Dursley’s.

Harry’s life has always been lifeless and dull; that is, until he receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. After discovering an unknown world, Harry embarks on a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and a lot of magic.

The REview

Of course, I gave Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a 5/5 — is anyone even surprised? I doubt it.

I love the magic, the world, and, most importantly, the characters. Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s friendship is so adorable — trauma seems to lead to incredible frienships — and I can’t wait to watch it unfold throughout the series.

The magic system and world-building is impeccable, obviously, and each addition, whether it be the name of a store or a type of spell, just makes the world even better. Perhaps my favorite detail is the types of candies introduced; like, they really thought of everything, huh?

Even though I, and many others, absolutely love this book, I’m having a hard time discussing it for some reason. I guess it’s just one of those books that you have to read to experience fully.

I say that as if you, the reader, haven’t read this yet, but I’m assuming everyone and their mom has read this series front to back. Then again, you might be someone like me who lives almost 23 years without reading it; in this case, READ IT!

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The Leftovers

Please feel free to bash me in the comments for not having read the Harry Potter series yet.

My plan, as if I ever stick to them, is to finish the entire series by Christmas, but I’m also not trying to binge each book and make it a chore, so we’ll see how it goes.

Check out my Goodreads to follow my journey in real-time through this magical series.

The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson | A Glass Of Rum With A Side Of Suckfish

First and foremost, what a guy!

I’ve seen countless interviews of Hunter S. Thompson, as well as the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp, but not once have I read any of his works. (Well, not until a few days ago, that is.) I was once a poser fan, but no longer!

If you plan on reading this book, I hope you’re in the mood for a glass of rum on ice because it will definitely have you craving one.

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The Details

Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary is a piece of “gonzo journalism,” a type of journalism where the reporter is a part of the story and often told in a first-person narrative, making it very personal. Thompson lead the gonzo journalism movement in the 1970’s, making him the O.G. of the style.

The Rum Diary tells of “Paul Kemp,” a young journalist, and his time working at a drowning newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the late 1950’s. Once Kemp arrives in San Juan, he’s thrown into a whirlwind of drunken, sexual, and sometimes violent events with his friends and coworkers (while consuming a plethora of rum, of course).

Even though The Rum Diary was not published until 1998, Thompson first began writing this novel in 1959 when he was 22 years old, making The Rum Diary his first novel.

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The Review

I don’t know if it was just my reading experience (aka working a full-time job and moving), but this book was pretty forgettable to me. It could be because my mind was focused on more important things, but the first 2/3 of the book have completely left my mind. I can recount the somewhat big events that happen, but I definitely wouldn’t put money on my Rum Diary trivia, if you know what I mean.

Thompson’s simple and captivating writing style kept drawing me to pick up the novel whenever I had 20 minutes of free time. I suppose you could argue that I wanted to pick up the book because I wanted a distraction from my actual responsibilities, and you would probably be right (I can’t even begin to express the hatred I have for moving), but Thompson’s prose definitely gave me an excuse to keep reading.

Another thing I enjoyed about The Rum Diary was the characters. I’m not sure if they were people that Thompson actually met, or if they were dramatized in a certain way, but I absolutely loved that the characters were FLAWED (we love some good humanism) in more ways than one. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy loveable and pure characters every now and then, but let’s be real, they’re boring. Thompson seems to make it a point to show the faults and lows of characters rather than their highs and achievements, and I admire that more than words can express. I’m all for complex, loveable-but-broken characters, much like Alex from A Clockwork Orange (my fav <3), and it just makes the story that much more engaging.

Even though Hunter S. Thompson’s prose and characters were intriguing, I decided to rate the book 4/5 because it’s pretty forgettable. Again, like I previously mentioned, it’s probably because of my reading experience, but it is what it is. I am interested in picking this book up again some time in the future and see if I enjoy it more because there are SO many reviews praising this book.

Are we surprised that I tainted my own reading experience? Absolutely not. I seem to be the queen of self-sabotage.

Another problem I had with Thompson’s novel was the outdated language and concepts, so Trigger Warnings for racism and rape. They definitely are not at the forefront of the novel, but I did feel uneasy when one of Thompson’s characters use the n-word, as well as the same character trying to take advantage of a drunk woman. However, Thompson does kind of save himself by having Kemp speak up or change the subject whenever these events occur. But still made me uncomfortable, nonetheless.

Thompson’s The Rum Diary is an enjoyable read, minus the aforementioned uneasiness, and would be a perfect summer read for the right person. Perhaps with a side of rum.

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Extra Thoughts and Spoilers

I don’t really have a lot of extra thoughts on this novel because I, you guessed it, can’t remember enough to actually compare. Well, that and I don’t really have anything to compare it to, much like the unique and eccentric Hunter S. Thompson himself.

BUT I had to touch on perhaps my favorite quote of all time: “I’m tired of being a punk–a human suckfish.” Kemp then explains that he latches himself onto bad things, much like suckfish latch onto sharks.

As someone who also tends to be attracted to all things bad for me, this metaphor of the suckfish resonated with me in more ways than one. Rather than being the suckfish in my life, I’d prefer to swim in my own stream. I often have the energy sucked out of me (pun intended) when it comes to my job, family and friends, but it’s time for a change.

I think everyone can resonate with not wanting to be a suckfish, whether you apply it to your friends or work or anything. We all deserve to treat ourselves with kindness than letting some shitty shark determine our route.

Swim free my little fishies!

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The Golden Ass – Apuleius | The Story of an Ass of a Man

When Apuleius’ story of The Golden Ass popped up as I scrolled through the Book Outlet classics section, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I don’t know whether it was the title of the book, the classical antiquity cover art, or the overall curiosity of this unheard classic, but something was grabbing my attention and not letting me go.

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The Details

Upon further investigating, (aka reading the description), I discovered this story follows a man named Lucius who is turned into an ass after meddling with uncertain witchcraft. As he awaits his final human transformation, Lucius the ass finds himself in the midst of chaotic events and comical misadventures.

The Golden Ass was written towards the end of the second century AD in Italy, and it is broken up into 11 Books (much like Milton’s Paradise Lost). The edition I acquired is published by Penguin Classics and translated by E. J. Kenny. Apuleius’ hilarious text is one of the only and funniest stories still left from classical antiquity.

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The Review

This book made me literally laugh out loud so many times, and do you realize how rare that is to come by for me?

Within the first Book, Lucius in his pre-ass form meets Socrates, who is later almost completely beheaded by a group of witches (I promise this is not a spoiler; it happens within the first 15 pages.), to which they then pop a squat over Lucius and take a piss.

May I remind you, this was all within the first 20 pages.

I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into by picking up this strange collection of stories from the perspective of an ass, but I truly enjoyed it and gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

I couldn’t let myself give Apuleius’ The Golden Ass 5 stars because it seemed like the pacing of the story started to slow down in the middle. I’m thinking my mood had a lot to do with losing interest in certain parts since I read most of it at work. Sometimes I would have to put the book down multiple times to help with customers and stocking, so I felt distanced and pulled a little from the story.

However, even with distractions and small reading slump moods, I couldn’t quit picking this up. Because of The Golden Ass, I now have formed the habit of getting to work early just to have time to read. I wasn’t able to find a lot of time to read at home with chores and other things to occupy my time, so I took it upon myself to make time to fit this book into my schedule.

With all of the chaos and gloomy moods from the COVID pandemic, I need some type of comedic relief. Thankfully, Apuleius had my back.

Along with Lucius’ metamorphis journey, Apuleius has also sprinkled little anecdotes and classic tales throughout The Golden Ass. My favorite story within the text had to be the tale of Cupid and Psyche, and it was quite a nice size chunk of the book (35 pages, to be exact). Because I was constantly having to stop in the midst of paragraphs while reading this, I feel like I only skimmed the surface of this engrossing narrative of the Cupid and Psyche’s stressful love story. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back soon and read it uninterrupted so I’m able to fully digest its themes and moral compass.

Fortune is also mentioned a lot throughout Lucius’ troubling metamorphis journey, seeing that Fortune isn’t exactly lending him a helping hand. Whenever Lucius seemed to be having a small string of good luck, Fortune made sure to put him back in his place. Rather than causing me a lot of stress, these little touches added a lot of humor to the writing.

In conclusion, this book had me hooked and snickering to myself in the back of a liquor store from the beginning. The small anecdotes and hilarious misfortunes happening to poor Lucius made it impossible not to put down, as well as keeping a straight face.

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Extra Thoughts and Comparisons

The Golden Ass reminded me some of Dante’s Inferno, where Dante the Pilgrim witnesses many unfortunate souls and events that eventually lead him to personal and spiritual development. However, rather than Dante’s serious approach to cruel Fortune’s powers, Apuleius takes a comical leap and 100% achieves just that. Could this heroic journey be a staple of classic Italian antiquity?

(Possible spoiler alerts ahead!)

Even though these two are very independent from one another and differ in their own unique ways, some traits, although differing content, resemble one another when comparing Dante and Apuleius’ character-driven stories.

After all of Lucius’ mishaps, he decides to dedicate his life to the goddess Isis, much like Dante worships Love and God at the end of Purgatorio. Both Dante and Lucius drastically flip their own selfish habits to actions of worship and love. For both characters to achieve these holy endeavors, they must undergo some form of change/initiations. Dante is shaped by his time in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, while Lucius’ goes through multiple initiations for Isis, as well as being admitted to office as an advocate by the main god Osiris.

While both Dante and Lucius are experiencing their own personal journeys, their spiritual journeys seem to run parallel to one another. On the bright side of this, if you don’t feel like committing a lot of time to complete Dante’s complex and dense Divine Comedy, it could be possible to get a similar story in a short 214 pages. Don’t get me wrong, Apuleius’ text is also pretty dense, but a 200 page book beats a trilogy, no?

Until Next Time…

Have you ever heard of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass? If so, what were your thoughts on it? I’d love to discuss this insane story with someone who’s read it, but it doesn’t seem like many people know the story of the man who once morphed into an ass and later found spiritual enlightenment.