By Jeff Martin

If youíre a JFK buff like me, 2013 marks 50 years since he was gunned down in Dallas on a sunny day.

I like conspiracy theories, and anyone with a passing interest in such theories canít help but be fascinated by the JFK assassination. Was he killed by the lone gunman Lee Oswald, or was he the victim of a larger storyline ó the mob, the very government he led, the Russians, the Cubans.

I bring this up because I recently finished Stephen Kingís novel ì11/22/63,î an ambitious work thatís sure to entertain readers during the long, cold winter here in Western New York. Clocking in over 800 pages, the novel follows a protagonist who discovers a portal into the past and who plans to stop the assassination before it happens.

Of course, there are subplots, all of which do a splendid job at answering the question, ìShould you change the past?î When King is good, heís fantastic, sprinkling his stories with questions that make you think and plot lines and happenings that are just good old-fashioned entertainment. As Iíve gotten older, Iíve tired of King for the most part, but this book surprised me; it felt like he had found his old voice again after many years.

The work doesnít answer any of the several questions that surround the assassination. If anything, King appears to support the lone gunman theory, but I suspect that, in order to make the plot work, King had to subscribe to the lone gunman theory. King was a child of the ë60s, and itís hard to imagine him, all these years later, believing what I personally feel was a government cover-up.

Iíd love to know what you, readers of the Ellicottville Times, think of the assassination. Was Oswald the lone gunman, or was he just ìthe patsy,î as he claimed?

Another book Iíve picked up is ìThe Black Count,î a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography for 2013. Written by Tom Reiss, the work tells the story of Alexandre Dumas, a mixed-race general of the French Revolution. Iím half way through with the work and so far, itís a glorious examination of the man who, years later, would serve as the main model for the novel, ìThe Count of Monte Cristo,î written by Dumasís son.

Iíve always stood in awe of writers who can condense massive amounts of history into readable accounts that inform and entertain, and Reiss achieves this. Itís not easy to tell the story of the French Revolution in ways that are easily understood and digestible. The more I read of history, the more it interests me, which I believe is the price of getting older.

Or the reward.

So with that Iíll leave you, readers, with a couple of books I feel you should pick up. The leaves are falling, the frost is frosty and the snow is coming to bury us all very soon.

Thereís nothing like a good book or two in the winter.

(Email Jeff at and let him know what you think about his book suggestions.)