Search this blog

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

On 'It'

In 2015 I read a book called 'On Writing' by Stephen King, aware that this man was one of the most prolific fiction writers out there. However, I was also aware he wrote horror, and being a scaredy-cat I was too afraid to read any of his books. But I did want to read something by him so began to research his non-scary stories, and later that year purchased 11/22/63, one of the best books I've ever read. Since then I've read a great deal of his works, including some of the alleged 'scariest' like Misery, Carrie, and It, which I just finished.

I began It around the end of 2017, curious because I'd heard it was one of his best stories. I was put off because it's meant to be one of his scariest, and is also over a thousand pages long. I read around two-hundred pages and then watched the movie with my housemates back in Guildford. It certainly had a few jump scares, but overall was more of a coming-of-age thriller/drama and wasn't as scary as I'd presumed.

I finally began It in mid-December and finished it now in mid-January. Despite its length it took me about five weeks to read (I thought it would take me two-three months) because of how gripping and enthralling it is, right up until the end (which had me in tears - I cried and felt sad many times during this incredible book). I also read a lot of it on my phone via the Kindle app so I could read it on the go (I think it's the largest book I've ever read) and read the physical copy at home in bed. (Yeah, I bought it twice, but books are life okay!)

I'm a lot less scared of things as an adult then I was at eleven or fourteen. When you grow up you lose a lot of the things you had as a kid, including memories. I try and rack my brains and memories from anything beyond fifteen fade like hazy colours. Trying to recall my days of school is like trying to remember a dream after waking up. I have a lot of dreams that feature primary school and the street I grew up in, but I seldom think about these things in my waking life.

It is a story, primarily, about growing up and losing things from your childhood, but that if you look deep inside you will still find things in there. I feel that I've lost a lot from my younger days; chiefly a sense of optimistic wonder about the world. My view of the world is now clouded; I see it as a place filled with darkness and disappointment, and while I am aware there is a lot of good, I don't get my hopes up too much. Even though I'm content with my life, I carry around a sense of sadness that I didn't have as a kid.

I still have a lot of the stuff - I'm still talkative, book-loving, and enthusiastic about a lot of things. But they've become stifled with self-consciousness. I'm aware that if I get too upbeat and blabbery about things, someone will look irritated or find me too full-on or emotionally immature. The happy little girl my parents remember me as is still there, but she's now aware that she has to tread with caution because the world might come and swallow her up. She's way less likely to stick her head in a sewer because she's wise to the clowns that float down there (unlike poor Georgie).

As for being scary, I haven't found any of Mr King's books to scare me, and I didn't find It scary at all. I found it sad because the themes of moving away and forgetting your past and childhood optimism resonates so deeply with me. I also wished that the Loser's Club were my friends at eleven - they're all such amazingly brave kids and I loved them all dearly. My favourites were (beep beep) Richie and Beverly, and I especially related to Bev as a young woman. Seeing her go on to marry a monster like her dad was heart-breaking and shows how traumas in childhood effect the choices we make later on in life, albeit subconsciously.

The writing is beautiful. Just the opening sentence is so gloriously woven - seeing what King does with language makes my skin shiver with ecstasy. I think It, Misery and 11/22/63 have the most beautiful prose so far out of the books I've read by him.

The only parts I didn't like were the long blocky bits in which Mike was telling us about the events in Derry during the interludes, like the fire and the Silver Dollar episode. I get their importance but thought they could have been shorter because after a while it got boring. Same with the bit at the end when Derry goes to pieces - again, important, but I think it could have been shortened. Yeah, we get it, as It dies Derry dies with it.

Also, there's that controversial scene 'Love and Desire' where the Losers have just wounded It and are stuck in the sewers unable to find their way out. Beverly has sex with all of them individually. How do I feel about this? On the one hand, I think it's very strange and unsettling for a bunch of eleven year old boys to have sex with one girl. Would be different if it was just two - Bev and Bill, for instance - still weird but not as unsettling. As they're friends it also seemed inappropriate as you don't have sex with your friends; that crosses over a new territory into lovers/friends with benefits/partners.
Great article on this scene:

Also - and I'm a pretty open-minded liberal person so coming from me this is kind of out there - I did find it a bit sexist that the one female character sees her body as what she can offer up to the boys. Beverly is an amazing character, yet it's her 'magical vagina' that somehow saves them.

BUT on the other hand, I liked the way it was written - sex is a beautiful bonding act that when performed between people who love each other is great, and it creates human life, and I'm supposed to be super sex-positive so in that context I think it was a nice way to bond all of them. Definitely makes me feel torn and has caused so much controversy among readers (also wasn't included in the 1990s minseries or the 2017 film, which I think is for the best).

Other than that this was a perfect book. I wouldn't class it as a horror story at all - it's a coming-of-age drama about growing up, friendship, love, loss, sadness, grief, hope, and facing your fears. In the end, the 'Ritual of Chud' was about facing fear. It represented fear, and the way to defeat It was to overcome fear. I think that's a wonderful metaphor and something we can all relate to in our life.

All the King books I've read now: Carrie, It, Misery, 11/22/63, Firestarter, Different Seasons, The Running Man, Cell, On Writing, Mr Mercedes, Finder's Keepers, Joyland. Next on my King list is his wonderful Dark Tower series!

Related posts:

Related article:

No comments:

Post a comment

I've published three YA fiction books and two poetry volumes. To check em out, copy and paste this link into your browser: