June/July 2010's SK Flavor of the Month - It
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Started It a couple of days ago. I last read it 8 years ago and that was the third read, so I thought I might struggle with it still being so vivid in my mind. I polished off 100 pages in a sitting! It's as good fourth time round. My only complaint is that it isn't my first read. It blew me away first time round (well it pretty much does each time).
There are so many nods to other King books in It. It enriches the book and adds to the idea of It being a much bigger, Lovecraft-like evil (for me anyway).
I had a copy of my own but my mother-in-law has signed me up for The Stephen King Library so I gave my copy to my sister since I'll be getting another one. I feel like I have so many King books, yet I'm nowhere near finished collecting them all! :)
But back to the book - I plan to hit it some more today, but I'm at the point where each of them (except Stan) is heading back to Derry. I had to skim Beverly's escape because it was just too much...I've had a stressful week.
Fourth time round and I'm still gobsmacked at how good it is.
This will only be my second read through. It's funny, because last time I started it was in an airport. I have a vivid memory of reading about the guy at the carnival in the top hat with the flower while I was on a plane. It will be something if I read that same scene on another plane.
It's only one chapter but it's vivid enough to stand up as a contrast to what follows through the rest of the book. Reminded me the beginning of The Exorcist, but much more effective.
Is this your first read of the book?
I always find the ending desperately sad. So much loss - friends, childhood memories and youth. The idea that the children made the best friends of their lives only for the purpose of defeating It is awful. If that Turtle thing was a force for good then it seemed a selfish sort of good. It felt to me that the Losers and their friendship were dispensible, which is a real tragedy. I was particularly struck by them having no children, which gave them no ties or responsibilities getting in the way when they were needed again. Their lives, successful or not, were held in limbo until an age where they could no longer be called young.
I've gotten to the second Derry part. I only seem to find the clown incarnation of It scary, although I'm aware It is just tuning into individual fears. I find Mike Hanlon's diary particularly creepy, the development of his thoughts and fears, the build up to his decision to call everyone, and the history of It and Derry.
I've read up through the first Derry Interlude. Spotting all the offhand flashbacks, I'm really impressed. I wonder what a bear this book must have been to edit when he was done, or if maybe he had written out all of the 1958 sections first and then wrote the 1985 sections.
Did you catch the name checks of Gaitlin and Hemingford Home?
At first I thought it was a little corny that all of the adults hewed so closely to their traits as children (Ben Hanscom built a dam, so of course he became an architect; Michael was a bookish kid, so he's a librarian). Real life rarely works out that way.
But then MoominMama's post #24 made me think differently about it. I suppose the Turtle (or whatever guiding force it is) in many ways kept them from growing up. They are like older, more successful versions of the kids that managed to take on It. Perhaps there would have been a danger in letting them change too much in the twenty seven years.
I've convinced my better half to start reading It as well by picking up a second copy at Half Price Books. I have the original, 1986 paperback edition with the newspaper boat on the cover (it is older than one of my brothers-in-law!) while hers has Tim Curry as Pennywise.
While I always will prefer the original cover art for It, that Pennywise face sure is creepy!
First read of It? I'm jealous :)
I couldn't have Pennywise's face hanging around. I'd have to put the book face-down after my night-time reads! Does anyone remember the cover to Salem's Lot with all the grinning vampires, or the really bloody Carrie cover? Both really freaked me out as a teen. I couldn't have Salem's Lot on my shelf because there was a vampire on the spine too. Such a wuss....
#30 - I guess it was obvious, but It reminds me *a lot* of The Body. I had as much fun reading about Richie, Ben and Bev at the movies as I did reading about Bill and Eddie on Neibolt Street.
Richie = Teddy
Bill = Chris/Gordie combo
I live in Houston (actually in a weird preplanned community called The Woodlands that is both a beautiful place and Stepford with rednecks) and there are a number of Half Price Books around. I always say I'm going just to get a couple of things and wind up with about ten times more than I planned.
#33 - I'm not sure of the wisdom of an It movie, but I would think it should at least get a two and a half/three hour running time. Since a page of script equals about a minute of screen time and that article mentioned a 120 page limit, I guess that won't happen.
I've remembered that scene forever. Then when Bill and Richie were looking through Georgie's album I thought maybe I had remembered it wrong.
Mike is telling the now reunited losers about his findings during the present cycle of It's return to Derry (if it ever really left in the first place)! Liked Bill's cab ride through the developed and modern Derry on his way to the Jade of the Orient. Got a little nostalgic there...
I really think reading Stephen King is like peeling onions. There is always another layer. Some is hard, some come off easily. At this point I guess we are about to learn more about the main characters and why they have become who they are today!...
I'm definitely getting more out of the book now than when I first read it 20+ years ago. My memories from the original read were all the scary It parts.
However, this time around, I'm more interested in the kids, how they turned out as adults and their day-to-day activities in the fifties. The creepy moments are sort of the icing.
The structure of the book is very impressive too. King knows you are waiting to hear about certain parts. When the characters foreshadow something (like Bev thinking about what happened to Patrick Hockstetter) only to then say something like 'But I don't remember that part yet', it's like King is winking at me. Saying 'You'll get to that part when I'm ready to tell you about it!'
Also, I like all the allusions and references to Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Sorry. This post is sorta all over because I waited so long to contribute.
Challenge accepted!... :)
After a huge brunch and a brisk walk in Frederiksberg Park I'm now back in my apartment about to engage in the Apocalyptic Rockfight (p. 793). Plan to read through Part 4 - July 1958 - today. Can't really wait to get back to present time (that is 1985) to find out what is going to happen with the now reunited adult losers and the three uninvited guests...
It's amazing. I have (almost) three hundred pages left, yet I'm wondering how King is going to wrap up all the threads in such a 'short' page count!
The sun and heat has ruined every attempt of getting some serious reading done this weekend! I haven't even got to Part 5 (The ritual of Chüd) yet but am only about to learn more about the life and death of Patrick Hockstetter...
I like this book - and the various concepts it deals with - so much that I have decided to do a little thematic reading after this one. I found Boy's Life and Summer of Night lying about. Both have been on my TBR-list for a while now and both will be the first novels I'll read by Robert McCammon and Dan Simmons.
#50: I really liked that scene as well. I kept thinking Eddie's mother maybe suffered from some kind of münchausen-by-proxy syndrome...
Sorry about your asthma!
And yeah, Eddie's mom definitely had Munchhausen by proxy.
Yeah, I have the original mass market paperback from 1986. It's downstairs right now, but I wanna say it runs a total of... 1,070 pages?
#50 - To be fair, King wasn't making a blanket statement about asthma. I never read the book and thought he was saying all asthmatics are psychosomatic. Just Eddie is. to me he went out of his way to show that Eddie never had it. That his mom bullied his weak willed doctor into diagnosing it.
Now The Goonies... yeah, that was pretty bad. No defense there. That's a classic kids movie full of terrible images for kids. God bless the eighties.
I've just started Chapter Nineteen: In the Watches of the Night. The young Bev has come home to find that her father worries about her - a lot! This can be really nasty I think...
#52: Yeah, I know that asthma can be a serious condition. However, I also don't think Eddie was having the disease himself or any other diseases for that matter. The only thing he suffered from was a mother that wanted to keep him in a cage with germ bars!
Hmm, I remember from my own childhood that I - like Eddie - was very afraid of rusty nails because you could get tetanus if you cut yourself (I wonder where that anxiety came from)...
As for being annoyed by King's treatment of asthma, I get annoyed by King's gay characters/references to gays. I mean, did he have to be a mincing guy in eyeshadow? But then I tell myself that a) these books tend to be twenty years old and b) it is what he needed for his story.
#54 - I've finished Eddie's days in the hospital and am about to find out what Bev has to say about Patrick Hockstetter (I remember a little bit of this section).
I had a birthday party and we went to a comedy club, so I knew I wouldn't get enough reading done this weekend.
If it happened to be your own birthday party, then Happy Birthday to you!... :)
Right know I'm reading the most fantastic chapter yet; Chapter Nineteen. In this chapter we are bouncing back and forth between present time (1985) and 1958. Every section is told from a different persons point of view, it's pure action and one section flows seamlessly into the next one. Very impressive...
One thing I've noticed when reading this huge novel is that Stephen King is using a lot of references to other of his works, including some that was not written at the time (I guess). Also, I think I noticed a tribute to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (well, I haven't read that particular book myself, but I have read Dance Macabre and therefore know about that famous first paragraph).
I'm on page 797 and Patrick Hockstetter just opened his fridge. I have to say that I was happy to see that little bastard get his.
What are some of the self references you've noticed? I've only caught Gaitlin (Children of the Corn), Hemingford Home (The Stand) and Haven (The Tommyknockers). I know there's some Dark Tower stuff (the dead lights) and of course Derry shows up again in Insomnia and Dreamcatcher.
There's references to Three Billy Goats Gruff aplenty and I like all the offhand references to old TV shows and songs that were popular at the time.
I do this too when my friends and family throws birthday parties for their children. And christmas, that's a ball. Plastic Robots with vocoder like voices, a set of huge laser guns and maybe a drum kit... yeah!...
What are some of the self references you've noticed?
I knew I should have marked them down when I first began to notice! They are really not so easy to find again when you are skimming back through the last 1000+ pages you've read. Besides some of your findings I'm pretty sure I also found one or two references to Desperation... Tak!... and Christine. Also, I was wondering if Henry's knife (the way he got it) was a reference to Needful Things, but I'm not really sure about that one...
As for references to other writers works, I think Henry at Juniper Hill is some kind of reference to that Renfield character in Dracula. And of course The Haunting of Hill House I mentioned before...
However, I don't really get the refs to the TV-shows and songs. I'm too young for the music, I guess. And the TV-shows have probably not aired in europe in recent times...
I'm on page 797 and Patrick Hockstetter just opened his fridge. I have to say that I was happy to see that little bastard get his.
I didn't care too much for him either!...
I'm at page 1,220 going »Under the City«. Looks like I'm about to finish the book tomorrow or the day after. But first a good nights sleep and a hard days work...
I don't remember Needful Things enough to catch references.
I hadn't noticed Henry at Juniper Hill, but now that you mention it, yeah, the older Henry is Renfield-like.
I need to read The Haunting of Hill House. A classic that would also enrich my reading of other horro. Yet I've passed it by so far.
Definitely worth a look! Best to wait until after you've read the novel, though. Just to prevent any last minute spoilers!... :)
I did get to the quote from The Haunting of Hill House. I'm not sure why I haven't read that yet. The only Shirley Jackson I've read has been The Lottery, but it was a brilliant story.
I've just gotten to Bev preparing to tell her story about returning home to find that her dad is waiting for her.
Can I say that the showdown on Neibolt street was AWESOME?
What I'm really posting about is that I think the inference that It had possessed her dad was a mistake. I think her dad's... obsession with her was creepy enough and having It be involved beyond perhaps telling him where she was.
The whole book was hinting at some sort of incestous desire on his part and having it finally come to a head, but with Pennywise injected made it feel sort of like a cop out.
Anyone else have a different opinion?
I'm really not sure what to say just yet because this story has soooo many layers and story lines within story lines, only that the melancholy tone in final chapters very much reminded me of the feeling I had when I read Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Also, I must admit that the last quarter or so of the novel was quite weird and psychedelic and thus very hard to get (but man, did I love the parts where we learnt what It was experiencing). I might have missed half the meaning when it came to It, The Turtle and The Other, but that only leaves something for the next time I pick up It. This could very well be the summer vacation book of choice (as Something Wicked This Way Comes is the all-time book for october)!
I think this "Childhood Horrors" is a theme I like to pursue in the near future. Now I just have to make up my mind whether Boy's Life or Summer of Night should be my next read!...
Thank you Stephen King and y'all on King's Dear Constant Readers. This june/july group read has been a great experience!... :)
UPDATE: wrote a little review here.
As for my own 'paradox of choice' I think I'll go with Summer of Night as I kinda' have promised someone to give some feedback on how I find this one!...
I don't remember it being mentioned in the book, but the huge amount of references, even for a King book, really added to the big, outside horror theme. Does IT's influence spread outside of Derry at times, or are there other ITs out there? Why would IT set Henry Bowers off in Christine, for example?
I had no problem with IT working through the adults. Bev's dad had problems anyway, but IT knew just how and when to utilise these. He did the same with the kids, tapping into their individual fears. IT had a long relationship with the town of Derry, feeding their fears as well as feeding off them.
I do agree that all the references add to It. They make the book seem more... comprehensive, if that is the right word. All the refernces work in It because they are handled with such a light touch. If you'd never read Christine and didn't get the ref to a Fury, no biggie. If you got it, it just added a layer to the story.
When I read Insomnia (another big Derry novel that I didn't like so much) it felt like if you missed the references, you also missed the story.
#73 - Welcome aboard. You are in for a treat. It is one of Stephen King's best.
#74 - I keep thinking of The Library Policeman as well, though I barely remember the story. All the visits to the Derry Public Library are giving me flashbacks.
I wish I were able to sit in a nice sunny room (or a not too well lit room during a storm) and read the last hundred+ pages of it in a single sitting. The writing of the book and structure of these last chapters certainly calls for it.
Why oh why must I work for a living?
What's great about having read it a good few times before is that I'm remembering the book as the Losers are remembering events, almost like I'm joining in :)
The constant references to kids being killed in their midst (the boy sliding out of the storm drain not far from the hide-out - horrible) reminds me of something that happened when I was about 8. A girl, not much younger than me, went missing. She lived VERY near us. All of our parents told us to be careful and stick together when we were playing. A babysitter of ours took us out to the local park and because she didn't want to come across as creepy herself, she got us to look in bushes and overgrowth as we went along, to see if we could spot a body. She told us kids that disappear always turn up dead, and it's the first time we'd considered this, although being a teenager we weren't sure whether to believe her or not, but what with the adults telling us to be careful, I thought maybe there was something to it.
Anyway, the missing girl was discovered in her own home, in bin bags, and her step-father was arrested (or that's what I was told). It never made the national news either, which freaked me out as I'd assumed the murder of children was so unusual that it was always newsworthy.
I don't know if the outcome was exaggerated by local gossip, but the feeling over that week or so reminds me of It, and the way kids deal with things like that. The way the Losers talk about the deaths, but carry on playing uninhibited by fear, is very realistic.
I was never too sure about the... uh... way the kids found their way out of the sewers. But I noticed that as Bev was thinking about how Greta and the girls at school talk, they always refer to it as 'It'. Gave me some thinking to do. I don't want to say too much since Morphidae is still in the middle.
By the way, I was trying to remember, the presence in Dreamcatcher... didn't he call himself Bob Gray?
Yeah, the little orgy (I hesitate to use gang bang, but it sort of fits better as it seems Bev did this willingly albeit as a last resort) at the end is strange and I don't know how well it fits. I mean, is that the only reason for the token girl in the Losers' Club? If it had been all boys, how would they have gotten away then? It seems a shade misogynistic, which is weird for King whose respect and love for women often shows in his work. So he made her the marksman of the group, so what? I'm not sure it levels anything with an ending like that.
Still, overall I do like the story and what he accomplished with it.
Actually, I find it very hard to do reviews as we have no formal training in school on the subject (no tradition for book reports and such) and then there's also the language barrier thing when I have to write in english. However, this one was a little easier to do because I have jotted my thoughts down while I was reading (as a matter of fact I did a "copy & paste" of all my comments in this thread to a blank document and then performed a complete rewrite to bring the various sections together as a whole).
At any rate, I know that the alien called himself Mr. Gray and then I thought he called himself Bob Gray, though my memory is hazy.
I do remember that he gets to Derry and the sign by the old standpipe has some grafitti saying 'Pennywise Lives!', though that could have just been King having a goof on his readers.
I for one am looking forward to that book coming up for a read. I know it's not a favorite of many readers, but I remember liking it a lot.
If it had been all boys, how would they have gotten away then? It seems a shade misogynistic
I got that feeling too. I was thinking how many references there were to childhood sexuality in the book and how Bev keeps thinking that when Greta and the other girls talk about sex they think it is so nasty and will only refer to it as 'It'. I figured he was making a point in there.
I don't think he was being mysogynistic, but the way it was written could feel that way.
Also, I never really felt like Mike got enough screen time.
#86 - Yeah, I often go through my posts in these threads to help me gel my thoughts into a review.
This is my second time reading It, I'm somewhere in the 700-page range and enjoying it very much. I'm reading the massive hardcover version, so it's not easy to lug around--it's been strictly at-home reading! Hopefully I can finish it up by the end of the month so I can dive right into The Eyes of the Dragon, which was always a favorite.
It doesn't seem right until you try to think of an alternative act that could have taken its place. They'd spent all summer fighting together, hugging each other, crying together, and were clearly willing to risk dying for each other (or for Bill at least). What else was left? More hugging? Holding hands?
I actually kind of miss the book now that I'm finished and in some way envy you for being in the 700's. Still plenty to go.
Plus, there's so much foreshadowing throughout, the adults will start to think of a traumatic event and then say, "nope, it's not there yet." It really makes you want to keep reading! I'm now getting ready to start the death of Patrick Hockstetter chapter.
I'm in the process of reading all the SK books in chronological order, but I am most afraid to reread this one. It was seriously traumatic for me, I was terrified for months (maybe years) when I first read it--I was 12 at the time, so it was a very impressionable age for this book! I'm starting to wonder if I don't have some kind of PTSD or something from the experience....I've been creeped out just having the copy of it back in my house with that freaking cover.
I had to hide it in the back of my bookshelf where I couldn't see it because it was covered by other books when I was a kid. No joke.
Same copy I have. Of course, I bought mine when it was a newly available paperback. I think that original cover is one of the most iconic of any of King's covers.
All in all, one of my favorite overall King novels!