Thursday, November 09, 2017

IT by Stephen King



I bought the paperback for $1 long before I knew they were making an updated film version of "IT."

Or...is it "It"?

FADE IN:
We find the writer of My Bucket of Parts outside in the rain. It pours, relentless. The budget for such rainfall is expensive, but somehow MBoP has found the funds to keep the water going. The writer wears the classic yellow raincoat found in all variations of Stephen King's "It."

The writer squats down in the pouring rain. He gets down on his hands and knees, facing a storm drain. It's obviously a bad idea, but he needs to talk to that creepy clown, Pennywise. The clown's secretary said he would be in his office, thus the storm drain.

MBOP WRITER:
Um, excuse me?

Silence from the drain.

MBOP WRITER:
Mr. Pennywise, are you   
there? I was told I could
find you here.

Yellow eyes on a painted face appear in the storm drain. The yellow eyes switch back and forth between cat eyes and human eyes. The writer jumps back a little. He almost pees himself, but just a little. He read the book. He knows what he's getting himself into.

MBOP WRITER:
Oh, there you are.

PENNYWISE:
I'm answering emails, kid. Whaddya want?

MBOP WRITER:
[Recoils and covers his nose] Your breath, Pennywise. When was the last time you brushed your, um, fangs?

PENNYWISE:
Is that anyway to speak to a great evil?

MBOP WRITER:
It's all about presentation, sir. How are you going to find more places to haunt with terrible breath?

PENNYWISE:
That's sort of what we great evils use to torment the living. There's visions, blood, decapitation, but sometimes it's nice to just breath on a person to make them uneasy.

MBOP WRITER:
Good point, sir. I'm definitely not at ease.

PENNYWISE:
[Holds out a boat made from newspaper] It seems you lost this. Stick your arm down the drain and reach for it.

MBOP WRITER:
We both know that's not mine.

PENNYWISE:
It could be…

MBOP WRITER:
It's not.

PENNYWISE:
[His voice begins to get more childlike and a red balloon
appears next to his face] Do you want a balloon?

MBOP WRITER:
Can I suck the helium out of it?


PENNYWISE:
Only if you stick your arm down here to get it.

MBOP WRITER:
The gas in that balloon is probably poison.

PENNYWISE:
[Takes the balloon, uses one of his fangs to cut the knot, and sucks in all the helium. The balloon flattens in seconds. Pennywise's voice is now like that of a Chipmunk.] I'm floating too.

MBOP WRITER:
It's the helium talking. The lack of oxygen makes you dizzy.

PENNYWISE:
[Another balloon appears next to his white face and yellow eyes.] I've got another.

MBOP WRITER:
I just need to ask you a question. You can keep your balloon

PENNYWISE:
[He holds a paper boat in his hand, next to the balloon.]

MBOP WRITER:
So, I know you usually go by Pennywise, but when you're just the purest form of evil and we don't have a good name for you are you It? Or are you IT?

PENNYWISE:
[His voice changes to that of a bored New Yorker.] I don't get what you're asking, kid. You just said the same word twice.

MBOP WRITER:
Sure, yes, I see what you mean. It sounds like I said the same thing, but I didn't. Would you rather go by Capital "I" and lowercase "t" or are you more of a capitalize-both-letters kind of evil clown?

PENNYWISE:
[He rubs his chin with his long-fingernailed claw and thinks for a moment.] You're the first kid who's ever had the decency to ask me. You must be a reporter.

MBOP WRITER:
I've had some training as a journalist, yes. It's the first thing we should ask in an interview. 'What's your name and how do you spell it?' So...how do you spell it?

PENNYWISE:
If you stick your arm down here, I can write it on there so you won't forget.

MBOP WRITER:
[Moves his arm close to the drain, stops.] Gotcha! You know I'm not going to stick my arm down there.

PENNYWISE:
Can't blame me for trying.

MBOP WRITER:
It's honorable, but would you please just answer the question?

PENNYWISE:
I think I like both of the letters to be capital. It's like it's being yelled.

MBOP WRITER:
Duly noted. Well, I need to write about how I felt about you as a book. I'll be seeing you.

PENNYWISE:
Wait! Before you go! There doesn't happen to be any kids playing out in the rain, are there?

MBOP WRITER:
Not today. I think they all know to avoid the storm drains.

PENNYWISE:
But, I'm hungry.

MBOP WRITER:
You look like you're not fitting into that clown costume like you used to. Maybe you should lay off the children for a while?

Before he will listen to Pennywise's response, he gets up off his hands and knees and walks back to his house in the rain.

While it was nice talking to Pennywise, the MBoP Writer has a book review to write.

I won't go into all the detail, but I feel like I've read King's strongest books so far -- at least from earlier in his career.  I divide his work into three stages: early, before he got hit by the van, and after he got hit by the van. 

His earlier works that have been incredible include "The Stand," "The Shining," "Salem's Lot" and most recently, "IT." 

Clocking in well over 1,000 pages, it rivals "The Stand" in length, but where "The Stand" goes for scope -- "IT" goes for depth. 

We learn about where and why Derry is so evil. We get to have a history lesson about how the unease just seeps into the residents of the town, and while the people (namely the adults) aren't necessarily wicked, they don't help by turning a blind eye to what goes on. 

Every 27 or so years.

Whatever the evil thing is...it feeds. Children go missing, and for the town, it's just one of those things. 

But of course, a bunch of kids are going to turn the town upside down figuring out where all the nastiness comes from. A ragtag group of friends become each others' saving graces for one summer and bond over bullies, uneasy home lives, and of course, IT. Each character confronts the evil in different ways, during the summer of 1958, and while most people think of IT as Pennywise the Clown, that's just his most infamous guise. 

Because, seriously, clowns are creepy. 

And IT uses the form of Pennywise as a way to lure kids in to eat them. 

King uses familiar tropes in this novel, his 22nd, that I've come to enjoy: a group of friends, a great evil, a small town. And while Pennywise the Clown is disturbing, I found the scenes with the bullies and one of the characters' dad to be more unsettling. 

King does such a nice job of weaving the supernatural into the true horrors of the real world. Sure the evil that lurks beneath the city is gruesome, but the leader of the group of bullies is just as terrifying. 

The reader travels between 1958 when the main characters are kids, where most of the action takes place, and we meet up with them again while they are adults in 1985. As a group of kids in the the 50's, they somewhat defeated IT down in the sewers, but it seems to have awakened once more in the 80's. One of the characters who has remained in Derry, almost like he was on look-out, calls all of his friends back due to a blood-bond promise they made on that final day during the summer when they thought IT was dead.

And while one of the adults doesn't make it back, the rest of them brave the cold terror under the sewers once more. 

To me, the book wasn't necessarily scary -- but I'm immune to fear when it comes to reading. I've been reading the genre for too long -- but it doesn't make these types of books any easier to put down. As of late, I've come to enjoy longer novels. They may take me quite a while to read, but they are like watching a TV series. You get to know and care for the characters. You become familiar with the settings. You don't want the book to end. 

So go ahead and challenge yourself with a book that's over 1,000 pages. You won't be sorry. 

Oh, and if you drop something and it goes down the storm drain...just leave it. I wouldn't bother sticking my arm down there if I were you. 

IT won't end well.