Here I explore the connections between 11/22/63 with the Dark Tower series and the Stephen King universe on a whole. There are definitely 11/22/63 spoilers here, as well as references to events in other King works. In short, this exploration is recommended for the Constant Reader of King, particularly those familiar with 11/22/63 and the Dark Tower series. For my spoiler-free review click here! However, for those new to King and interested in reading 11/22/63, I end with one recommendation: I think it is getting to the point with harmonics in King’s writings that new Stephen King readers really must start at the beginning. Start with Carrie. You won’t feel the good vibrations unless you’ve been there before.
A further note: Upon writing this, I realized how weak my memories of significant plot elements from the Dark Tower series are. I planned on doing some quick research by flipping through some of the books to refresh my memory, but realized that what I really need to do is reread the series in its entirety. Until then, here is my analysis on the connections between the series and 11/22/63, based upon feelings and vague memories from readings past. Please excuse any vague or weak analysis. I’m acting on feelings, not authority.
Harmonics. Strings. Beams. The past is obdurate. Time is obdurate. Space is flexible.
11/22/63 is a really good novel. It is but one chapter in what I think is a truly great novel. Stephen King’s huge, decades-old novel. The one he started at 19, and is still writing today.
19. That number. While I don’t recall 19 playing a huge part in 11/22/63, it is a major symbol in the Stephen King universe, as well as the Turtle and the beams (the strings). Both, in some way, are referred to in 11/22/63.
11/22/63 is about time travel. Jake takes a trip through time. He also takes a trip through space. The moment he steps into September of 1958, he takes a step into another dimension. Another dimension that is altered with every step he takes. Dimensions are a common theme in King’s novels. Roland and the Dark Tower gang move across them and explore them. They investigate the beams, different buttresses for different realities. Is 11/22/63 a Dark Tower novel? I think it is.
King makes this supposition plausible and likely the moment he places Jake Epping, 11/22/63′s protagonist, in Derry, Maine in September of 1958. Jake has stepped into IT‘s reality. Yet, with all of his actions in 11/22/63, he has created a new reality. Perhaps, with different choices, he could have created The Stand reality, returning to a desolate 2011 still recovering from the Captain Tripps plague of the 80’s. Roland and his crew stepped into an earlier version of this reality in Wizard and Glass.
The Yellow Card Man says that the future was on strings (beams). Is the Yellow Card Man connected to the breakers of the Dark Tower series? I think he might be.
How about those unexplained earthquakes in the new 2011 that Jake has created in 11/22/63? Are these the beam-quakes of the Dark Tower series? Perhaps.
Everything is connected. When Jake and Sadie entered the Book Depository, Oswald’s tower of death, I felt sure that that the hallways would warp, that the stairs would grow infinitely long. I felt a harmonic between the Book Depository and the house on Neibold Street from IT. Not completely off base–Jake observed that the building felt bad like Derry. I don’t know of a worse building in Derry than the house on Neibolt Street.
In reading 11/22/63, I felt a harmonic (obviously) with IT, but also the Dark Tower series. Which already harmonizes with The Talisman (and thus, Black House), Salem’s Lot, and The Stand (and many other King novels).
King’s books are pieces of a bigger work. This idea has already been explored by others (see The Stephen King Universe by Stanley Wiater, Christopher Golden, and Hank Wagner, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance by Robin Furth, and The Road to the Dark Tower by Bev Vincent, which I consulted a bit when writing this) and King basically says so in Song of Susannah when he places himself in the story.
I am admittedly rusty on my Dark Tower knowledge, and plan to reread the entire series in 2012. In the meantime, I feel the harmonics. 11/22/63 is showing me that Stephen King is not done with his major opus. Indeed, he is even publishing another novel in the Dark Tower series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, in 2012. In his official announcement on this upcoming novel, King states that while reviewing the copyedited manuscript of 11/22/63, he “started thinking-and dreaming-about Mid-World again.” Perhaps, because you never left it, Uncle Steve?
I think when I reread the Dark Tower series, I will be better at drawing connections with 11/22/63. As Bev Vincent notes in The Road to the Dark Tower, “The Dark Tower is the nexus of all universes, an axle around which infinite realities rotate. In the Stephen King universe, the Dark Tower series is the axle around which his myriad fictional realities rotate,” (195-196). Once I re-establish my knowledge of The Dark Tower, I think I’ll understand 11/22/63 much better and will probably return to this argument again.
One thing I do know conclusively is, I think it is getting to the point with harmonics in King’s writings that new Stephen King readers really must start at the beginning. Start with Carrie. You won’t feel the good vibrations unless you’ve been there before.
The Stephen King Universe by Stanley Wiater, Christopher Golden, and Hank Wagner
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance by Robin Furth