Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Stephen King Adds Intellectual Depth to our Wonderful Holiday Party
The day of our holiday party was cold and grey day outside, close to freezing but warm enough to be misty and rainy instead of icy. Inside Lydia's home, it was bright and cheery, warm and friendly! Food and books go so well together! Our brunch was delicious and well-rounded, with some of everything and just enough of a variety of yummy desserts. It is always refreshing at our parties to have some extended time for talking and visiting with each other before focusing on our book. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful food, and thanks to Lydia for everything you did to make our party so comfortable and fun!
We did have an in-depth discussion of 11/22/63, by Stephen King. Pam "headed us off at the pass" to avoid the discussion turning into a litany of everyone saying they were at school when they heard about the Kennedy assassination. Instead of asking, "Where were you when you heard," she asked whether anyone was anywhere other than school. I thought that was astute and clever. Stephen King had heard about it while riding in a hearse that was used by a taxi driver to drive some high-school kids to school, back in the day. Seems very King-like. Could his riding to school in a hearse have had a butterfly effect on his future and the literary world? At the end of this post, there is a link with more about this.
Pam gave us a list of themes that she thought were important for the book: the "butterfly effect," the obdurate past, watershed moments, and the harmonizing of the past. This is a well-thought-out list, isn't if! Thank you, Pam, for your careful perusal of the book, especially since you did not enjoy reading the book (I surely did, as did most everyone [but not all]). We didn't get through all these themes plus some questions Pam brought, which were equally thought-provoking. Here are some highlights of the discussion:
The card men were important. Each had a card of a different color and expressed different aspects of the time-travel theory. Each gave insights to Jake about the time travel and it's dangers. One explained the strings aspect of time travel. The card man at the end explains how time travel messed up the world. This is the kind of theme literature courses would teach! I have a tendency to read for the fun themes, ie, the romance and the action, and this part of our discussion gives another example of why our discussions are so valuable to me (and I hope to you, too). Although I picked up on the card men's insights and warnings, I wish I had paid more attention to all the aspects of each card man and how they related to each other and to Jake. They were an integral part of the structure of the story.
Some of the group presented some interesting theories during the discussion. There was a suggestion that the strings of events created by changes during time travel could all go back together eventually. I guess it was Pam who mentioned, and I wrote down King's line, "The multiple choices of possibilities of daily life are the music we dance to." There was discussion about whether the ability to time travel could allow too many choices, which could rip reality. (Makes me think of Dr. Who. Any fans out there?) Dennis suggested that one of King's themes could have been predestination versus free will. Marla gave us what I think is the most imaginative theory, asking us to consider parallels between Jake and Oswald as both accepting roles of changing history. Essentially adding a "string," she said Oswald might have been time traveling to kill Kennedy! Stretches the mind!
Some of us liked the ending, and some didn't. Allison wrote in via email that she liked the ending because of its message of things turning out for the best. Lyn got stuck in Oklahoma and couldn't get to our party but mentioned via email that she liked everything about the book except the ending. Janice noted that she saw on Wikipedia that there was an alternative ending where Jake had radiation therapy and went back to save Sadie but died in the past.
We had some discussion about the historic reality that we have lived and whether the Kennedy assassination was the work of a lone gunman, Oswald, or whether there was a conspiracy at work. Dennis reminded us that Occam's Razor, that the simplest choice is often the most valid, might be helpful and would indicate Oswald as the lone gunman. Carla mentioned Oliver Stone's movie version from 1991, JFK. This was actually when Marla came up with her theory that maybe Oswald was time traveling, but I moved mention of it to above.
I want to tell you about a book I brought to the meeting. This paragraph is about this book by an esteemed and dear friend. It is a conspiracy theory book: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters, by James W. Douglass. Jim is a brilliant PhD and a deeply spiritual person who has devoted his life to helping promote peace and justice. He and his wife run a house for the homeless in Birmingham, AL. The basic tenet, as I understand it without having read the book, is that Kennedy was uncomfortable about the dangers of the Cold War and had turned to peace, but the military and intelligence powers stood to gain more from winning the Cold War at any cost, and that these powers plotted Kennedy's assassination. It might be somewhat in line with Oliver Stone's views. This is a 500+ page book, well researched and well received, with 100 pages of references listed at the end in small print. There are lots of good reviews online. Here is a YouTube video of Jim talking about the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srstQVfVNEM. Jim is working on creating a graphic version of the book to make it more accessible to less erudite readers. Here is a link to the web page with news about that: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1450964693/jfk-and-the-unspeakable-the-graphic-adaptation . I hope you see this paragraph as informative and interesting and don't feel I am taking advantage of your attention. I have no personal interest except that I highly respect Jim Douglass. I would be glad to know if you have opinions, pro or con, after looking at the web pages and/or the book.
Here is the link to a web page about Stephen King and the hearse and the book that you might find interesting. It came up when I was checking my notes where Pam had said something about King and the hearse, and my notes were sketchy. You might enjoy it: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/story/2011-11-15/stephen-king-jfk-novel/51205656/1