Thanks again to everyone who helped make the second WICR? Challenge even better than the first! We are now able to offer for your edification and amusement the breakdown of all of Clyde’s clues about Stephen King’s 11/22/63 :
#1: The genre has been around for a very long time (surprisingly.) The author is doing well despite a recent divorce. If you could find 3 eggheads and a newspaper you could take the rest of the challenge off.
We were a bit surprised to find that time travel literature has been around since the 1800s. Did you know that Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) and Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) are considered time travel books?
Author Stephen King and his wife are still together but we got technical with the dictionary definition to describe the breakup of his all-author rock band, The Rock Bottom Remainders.
The 3 eggheads and their newspaper refers to characters from The X-Files dubbed the Lone Gunmen, a trio of conspiracy theorists and authors/publishers of the conspiracy theory newspaper, The Lone Gunman. Along with the connection their names and occupation shared with the Kennedy assassination they played a major part in the episode “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man,” in which the character CGB Spender is shown shooting JFK and framing Oswald for the murder. We planned to use “geeks” instead of eggheads but a Google search for “3 geeks and a newspaper” had the Lone Gunmen listed in the top 5 results. If you quickly guessed that we were talking of the Lone Gunmen there were enough connections to the book and subject matter to discover Clyde’s book on the first day.
#2: Looking to win the lottery with a lucky guess? Try playing these numbers next Thursday: 528, 1985, 2000, 1743. The author owns multiple homes but is actually a big fan of renting. We apologize in advance to our Teutonic readership for any confusion: Sometimes things get lost in translation.
The dates all refer to major dates from time travel fiction works from both literature and film. There is no major lottery drawing on Thursday, so we threw in a hidden hint that refers to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, a series set in a literary world where time travel is an important aspect of daily life.
King does own several houses but he now actually leases publishing rights for most of his novels instead of selling them.
The Teutonic readership is our readership of German heritage and the things “lost in translation” allude to JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in which many thought he accidentally referred to himself as a jelly doughnut (he did not.)
#3: The author is very familiar with an important setting in the book–not only does he refer to it by name, he populates it with real people (not himself, though, at least this time) and landmarks. One of the protagonists has something in common with the LRC staff. The book has several things in common with Alice.
Stephen King attended Lisbon High School in the town of Lisbon Falls, Maine, which serves as the gateway for the time portal that allows Jake Epping to travel back into history. The Worumbo Mill, Frank Anicetti and his greenfront, and a number of other details can actually be found in the real world as explained in this article from the Sun/Journal.
King, though he has written himself into several of his books (he most famously appears as a character in his Dark Tower series,) does not make an appearance in this one. Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who figures prominently in the plot for this book, worked at the infamous Texas Book Depository and later used the setting as a stage for his crime. Rest assured that working amongst books is all he shares with our LRC staff:)
Epping’s time portal is frequently referred to as a “rabbit hole,” a common name for the plot device found in many time travel works. Alice famously finds Wonderland through an actual rabbit hole that transports her to another time and place that is both frighteningly different and similar to the one she left.
#4 Do not worry if you are daunted by the size of the book-the author conceived the idea for the work over a quarter century ago but did not begin, citing a lack of writing prowess needed for such a weighty topic. Surprising that this author was scared of not being up to the task. This author has been criticized for having trouble with endings, so perhaps it is not surprising that this book’s final scenes were suggested by the author’s son.
Care to join us on a quick geographical tour of the book’s 3 most important settings?
- The first location shares part of its 2-word name with a city of seven hills, a beautiful location where one might enjoy a caldeira stew.
- To reach the second place one might have to negotiate an Alley that is almost 85 miles in length.
- The third place is in the heart of a land of petroleum and shady business dealings (at least according to the TV show). Don’t fear if you have to travel by night-the stars shine brightly.
Still wondering what book it is? We’ll tell you on Tuesday but this year, at least from an historical perspective, it would be more appropriate if we posted on Thanksgiving.
Whew! This one was long but quite helpful-people started to get veeeerrry close after we posted it.
According to several interviews, King had the idea for the book in 1971 but America’s most famous horror writer did not feel he had the skill or perspective needed to tackle it. He’s been panned for several unsatisfying endings to his works but this one was changed after his son, author Joe Hill, made a few recommendations. The text for the original ending can be found on King’s website.
- Lisbon Portugal: Lisbon Falls, Maine is the location of the time portal
- Alligator Alley: A famous highway in Florida, the state where Jake Epping gets his diploma mill degree and begins teaching again, a small act that sets in motion many of the book’s major events
- Dallas, Texas: Stage for the JFK assassination and climactic scenes. Lyrical allusion to the song “Deep in the Heart of Texas” by June Hershey.
This year Thanksgiving fell on 11/22/2012, the 49th anniversary of JKF’s death.
#5: Since today is the final clue we have brought in celebrity sitcom character Chris Trager (also known to some people as Rob Lowe)!
Chris: “About the author….the man is LITERALLY literary royalty!”
Clyde has been especially puzzling during this challenge, and his final clue is no different. To those tackling his riddles he asks of you: “…do not shrink from this responsibility—Please welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation at any other college. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this challenge will light our college and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the community.“
PS-Do not ask what your librarians can do to solve the clues for you-ask what you can do to solve the clues from your librarians.
Trager is a character from the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation who is fond of using “literally” in many of his sentences, so who better to help us make the reference to King’s last name?
The final wording is borrowed from JFK’s inaugural address (with key changes marked in bold) in which he famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.”
Clues were created using LRC staff knowledge of the book, the author’s website, and a number of published interviews with the author, among them pieces from the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and NPR.