I’ve decided that the definition of “unputdownable” in the OED should now be “11/22/63 by Stephen King.” I have lost sleep and work time racing through yet savoring every word of this masterfully written time-travel, what-if, alternate-reality tale of a man who travels back through a time-warp/rabbit hole in the back of a diner that lands him in 1958, where he must spend the next five years planning how to thwart the assassination of JFK. On the way, there is more of the past to tamper with, survive, and fall in love with–especially because it is where he meets his soulmate. But nothing is ever easy when it comes to changing the past, no sir. The past will do anything it can to stay put. “The obdurate past,” as King puts it. Indeed.
The past is also “harmonic,” according to 11/22/63. In fact, the act of reading 11/22/63 seems to generate its own harmonies, for as I entered the last third of the novel, an ad for the event series based on the work caught my eye on the Hulu home screen. Now I won’t have to feel as sad as I usually would do upon turning the last page of such an enthralling, mind-expanding read. I’ll have eight episodes to look forward to. Am hoping they do this brilliant work justice.
This luxurious new edition of EMMA features a series of pieces by Austen scholar and professor Juliette Wells, who informs us in her introduction that this is “a reader’s edition, not a scholarly one.” With the needs and wishes of her students in mind, Dr. Wells has included in this edition an abundance of extras that make EMMA’s world and its language as accessible as possible. There are tips for first-time readers of Austen, a series of short pieces that illuminate aspects of everyday life that Austen’s contemporaries would have taken for granted but which often elude today’s readers, a glossary of words that are now either obsolete or have evolved in meaning, plus maps, illustrations, and more.
EMMA is a novel that, like all of Jane Austen’s major works, I have read at least twenty times. A great part of Austen’s genius is that there is always something new to be discovered in her novels, no matter how many times one reads them. Now, thanks to this lovely new edition, there is even more. For there is enough substance in this annotated edition to enlighten and entertain not only novice readers, but Austen devotees.
As an object of beauty, this book deserves high marks as well, with its eye-catching graphics that express both contemporary relevance and period authenticity, its textured, matte apricot-colored background, and its deckle-edged pages that remind us of the days when books had uncut pages to be opened by their first readers.
A conversation with JULIETTE WELLS, Editor and Introducer of EMMA: 200th-Anniversary Annotated Edition
Having raced through Gayle Forman’s profoundly moving If I Stay, I immediately devoured the second book in the series, Where She Went. And that was it: I was hooked. My binge continued with Just One Day, Just One Year, and Just One Night, and finished (for now) with her courageous I Was Here.
There’s a lot that I love about these novels: They are packed with wisdom without a hint of preachiness. They are brimming with love without a drop of sentimentality. And they are refreshingly unpredictable. Instead of relying on those familiar devices one often sees in stories about love–the meet-cute, the hate-at-first-sight that turns into uncontrollable attraction, Forman gives us the messiness of real life, which rarely turns out the way we think it will. (more…)