This is why I never trust book reviews.
I’m currently reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Though I’m mostly a King fan*, I put off reading this one for quite a while because I had heard, through various reviews, that it was about the Kennedy assassination. Interesting in a way, but the obsession with JFK and all his might-have-beens is one I’ve never really gotten.
But it’s not about Kennedy at all. Or, it is, but only as a historical example in a convenient period. It’s really a story about watershed moments: those tiny places in history, personal or global, that mark a turning point. The place where two paths diverge. Readers of Terry Pratchett will be more familiar with the idea as the Trousers of Time. A moment, and then two diverging histories. The narrator of the book, Jake Epping, is confronted with watershed moments over and over, most of them of the smaller, more personal variety. Which is far more interesting than the fate of the 35th President of our neighbour to the south.
Because changing the course of history is one thing, but what plagues us are the decisions we have made, and all our own might-have-beens.
Monday Challenge time, children: write me a might-have-been. What watershed moment could have gone differently for you or your characters? What leg of the Trousers of Time might you or they have hurtled down, if things had changed only a little?
Now, I haven’t finished the book yet**, so I don’t know if the ending will be good. But I got through 400 pages yesterday, so it’s fair to say it’s made an impression. And isn’t that what counts?
*With a couple of exceptions. Seriously, what the hell is up with Wizard and Glass?
**And anyone who offers spoilers will be eaten by carnivorous iguanas by night and by day.