If someone wants to know how to write a good novel, one should visit Stephen King. Time and again, my favorite author has grabbed my eyeballs and imagination and has lead me through fantastic journeys with the same elan and flourish that I felt when I read Insomnia, my first King novel. With 11/22/63, King has achieved what I’d consider the pinnacle of success as a writer. This is hands down the best novel that King has ever written. There is not one false step in the 800-odd page behemoth, as each and every strand that King unravels is addressed and brought together in the end. Although the end was a bit sweet for my liking, this was possibly the best ending in any King novel and the best ending that this particular novel could have had (apparently we have his son to thank for this). Only the master can introduce the major love interest about 400-pages into the book and get away with it. Only the master can address the principle issue of the novel — the assassination of JFK — more than halfway in through the book and still make the first half equally gripping. What a treat this novel was.
I am going to contrast that with another novel that I tried slogging through — Snow, by Orhan Pamuk. Orhan is a Nobel prize winning Turkish author, and it was one of the main reasons why I picked up this book. I have to regretfully admit that I could not finish it. I gave up about 1/2 of the way through it. The story had a nice premise, and the Turkish setting added a nice variety (for me), but the novel just plodded along, not going anywhere. The dialogues were stilted and unrealistic. The characters’ behaviors were not believable in the least bit. Even at around 300 pages, this was a drag. This is only the 2nd novel that I have picked up and not managed to finish. The other one was also by a Nobel laureate — Saul Bellow. Come to think of it, I did not enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez too much either — another Nobel Laureate. Maybe it was the translation (Snow, from Turkish to English; Marquez from Spanish to English), or the fact that I cannot appreciate what is being written, but I have pretty much sworn off Nobel laureates. Give me my King anyday.