Hidden Gems 3 – Homage to a Favorite Author
February 12, 2013
I first encountered one of my favorite authors, Jack Finney (1911-1995), back in 1965. A popular writer of short fiction stories for magazines, Finney also wrote a number of novels. Several that made their way to the silver screen include Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Assault on a Queen, Good Neighbor Sam, The Love Letter, and Maxie. Finney is probably best known for his stories involving time travel. This recurring theme usually involves an inanimate object like a desk with a secret drawer containing a love letter from the past (The Love Letter), a Victorian-era home that is rebuilt in modern times that captures its owners in the past (Where the Cluetts Are), and an 1880s apartment building that morphs into modern New York City (Time and Again). These objects all provide portals to the past and involve going back to kinder, gentler times versus the more popular sci-fi theme of time travel to the future.
My wife, who grew up in Dallas during the 1960s, recently read Stephen King’s 2011 novel 11/22/63. A bit different from King’s usual horror fare, this story is also about time travel. It involves the attempt by two men to travel back in time, in a very Jack Finney-esque way, to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. My wife was very impressed by the historical accuracy of the novel, which showed that considerable research had been done to support the novel’s verisimilitude.
My hidden gem in this novel comes at the end in King’s afterword, where he credits some of the individuals who assisted him with the research. King writes, "Before I finish, I want to thank one more person: the late Jack Finney, who was one of America’s great fantasists and storytellers. Besides The Body Snatchers, he wrote Time and Again, which is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the great time-travel story. Originally, I meant to dedicate this book to him, but in June of last year, a lovely little granddaughter arrived in our family, so Zelda gets the nod. Jack, I’m sure you’d understand."
It’s nice to know that Stephen King likes Jack Finney as much as I do.