I just finished my first novel in well over a year, and I’m taking the night off

It took me about over a year, but I finally finished Stephen King’s 849-page Kennedy assassination time travel thriller 11/22/63, and, to mark the occasion, I’m taking the night off to binge watch the eight-part adaptation on Hulu.


For what it’s worth, I’m not adverse to reading. In fact, I read a lot. I’m a voracious reader of news. I just don’t make the time to read novels unless I absolutely have to. The last novel I read was Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, which I had to read because I’d agreed to serve on the 2015 Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads committee. [I really enjoyed it, by the way.] No one forced me to read 11/22/63, but, as someone who had spent a great deal of his childhood studying various conspiracy theories concerning the Kennedy assassination, I just couldn’t resist. So, if you’ve noticed that the blog hasn’t been all that good this past year, it’s because I’ve been distracted by my 15-page-a-week habit. I promise it won’t happen again… unless, of course, Stephen King writes a best seller about aliens visiting early man and helping them build pyramids, which was my other childhood interest.

One last thing… It’s probably worth noting that, maybe partially because of 11/22/63, I now think it’s more likely than not that Oswald acted alone. While it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Allen Dulles and Howard Hunt had played a hand in it, I think King is probably right when, referencing Occam’s Razor, he says “the simplest explanation is usually the right one.” And, in this case, the simplest answer is that Oswald wanted to make a name for himself by killing the President.

The bottom line, I think, is that I’ve just grown too old to keep 50 year old conspiracies burning in my heart when there are so many real, provable, fucked-up things that we’ve yet to deal with in significant ways. I mean, how much time can you invest in the possibility that, half a century ago, Kennedy may have been killed by a small cabal of men who thought that he was too soft on Communism, when we know for a fact that the evidence sending us to war in Iraq was manufactured and that our representatives in D.C. are bought and paid for by the likes of the Koch Brothers?

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  1. Kevin Sharp
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I did not understand the Yellow Card Man. If you could explain him to me, I’d appreciate it.

  2. Taco Farts
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    This is an MLive-worthy headline, Mark. You very well knew we would all click in expecting to find that you were a secret author of erotic sci-fi fiction centered around gelatinous life-forms. To regain your honor I think you need to go ahead and write some gelatin pulp and offer it for free through various outlets.

  3. tommy
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    If it took you a year to read, it couldn’t have been that thrilling of a thriller.

  4. Kit
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I like how in the first episode of the miniseries they worked in a conversation about how movies are never as good as the books that spawned them.

  5. Thom Elliott
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Phenomenon are more complex than comprehensible, in fact simple explanations are usually false. William of Ockham said not to multiply explanations in *metaphysics*, or “among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected” not that the simple explanation of phenomena is correct one. PS Oswald did nothing wrong, he was a convenient fall guy because he had radical politics.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Kevin, as I understand it, the “card” men are time guardians. It’s tier job to track passages through the time portals and ensure that reality remains intact. They don’t appear to have any powers, though. All they can really do is tell people not to fuck with the past.

  7. blueeyedpupil
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I watched the first episode on Hulu. Looking forward to seeing the rest of it. I am not a conspiracy person at all. Wondering what will happen next in the series.

  8. 734
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I didn’t like a lot of the extra stuff they added. (I turned it off when the cockroaches attacked Jake.) I may give it another shot, though, as I’m curious.

  9. Jim Pyke
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    My general reading preference is for non-fiction. Stuff like philosophy, aesthetics, critical theory. I don’t feel like I have enough time for novels. I get my fill of fiction from moving images: TV and movies.

  10. Lynne
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t really like reading Stephen King but I love watching TV shows and movies based on his books. I guess I will be watching this show.

  11. Rat
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I the Hulu version, it’s not just that Yellow Card man who attempts to stop/warn him. In episode one, a dying woman also tells him that he “doesn’t belong” there. I wouldn’t say that I disliked the addition, but I wasn’t expecting it. My bigger problem is with them only releasing one episode a week. I’ve grown used to the post Netflix world where entire seasons are available at once.

  12. (the original) Robert
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    So, I see neither you nor Stephen King has actually bothered to read about Occam’s Razor, its meaning and how it is applied.

    I assume you say things like, “I could care less.”

  13. Karl
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Stephen King was interviewed by Errol Morris in 2011, when the book came out. Morris asked him about the conspiracy theories. Here’s part of King’s response.

    “The line is pretty conclusive to me. The mail-order gun that he bought — he used that gun to try to shoot Gen. Edwin Walker. And that’s the gun that was found at the depository with his fingerprints on it. And then he ran, he shot the police officer J. D. Tippit, and they caught him. To me, that’s it. The chain of events seems outrageous, but let me tell you a story. This happened a couple of weeks ago in the Midwest. This guy won the lottery, he won a million dollars or something on the lottery. Maybe it was multimillions. But you know how it is, it’s a great human interest story. So the press comes and this film crew from one of the local stations says to him, “We want to recreate you winning the lottery.” You know where this is going, right?

    So they went to the store where he had bought the scratch ticket and won the million dollars. And they filmed, and he scratched the ticket and he said, “Holy — I just won another $100,000.” Now, that’s the sort of thing where if you’re not there, if you’re not part of it, you just say to yourself, “This is just absurd.” But it happens all the time. Oswald just happened to be at the right place at the right time. He and his wife were effectively done, and she was living with Mrs. Paine out in Irving. He used to come on the weekends, but that week, he came on Thursday — the night before the assassination. And it seems pretty clear from his actions and from the things he said that he had decided to do this, but that he could be persuaded to change his mind. He and Marina went to bed that night and in bed, he asked her, “Is there a chance that we can get back together?” And she was very cold to him. She said, “No, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, Lee.” And in the morning, he left his wedding ring and he left all the money in his pockets in a teacup in the kitchen for her. And that was it. There is this chain of ifs, but really, it’s as simple as that. He wanted to shoot somebody. He wanted to be somebody famous. It’s all there. The pieces all click together pretty nicely.”


  14. Posted February 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I read the book and have watched the first two episodes of the show. (It drops weekly instead of all at once–just like we are really in the 1960s!)

    I wonder what kids these days think of the assassination and conspiracy. For me, I’d much rather go back in time and not hand the election to W in 2000, stop the bombers on that day in September, 2001, maybe even go way back and let Hitler into art school. But stopping the JFK assassination just wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think to do.

  15. Peter Larson
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    JFK is not interesting.

  16. Andre
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I read the book, and… well, the show is much better so far. I can take King in small doses, but he really needs an editor.

  17. Bob
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Peter Larson hates JFK

  18. (the original) Robert
    Posted March 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I read Green Eggs and Ham and am now convinced I do not like them.

  19. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 5, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I just finished the mini-series. Very enjoyable!

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