IT by Stephen King

IT - A Novel by Stephen King


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IT by Stephen King
To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

“Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.”


“Maybe there aren't any such things as good friends or bad friends - maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that's what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

“Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him..”



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The most important things are the hardest things to say, because words diminish them...

Some time ago the wise bald (or white) heads stationed at various universities came to an agreement that a literary form, commonly known as the novel, is dead - fewer and fewer works of any significance are written each year. Of course, one must understand the requirements the wise gentlemen expect of a novel of worth: it would be good if the writer would include some "aesthetic dignity" by including as much allusions and connections to other previous works of literature - consciously, that is. The language must also be exquisite; preferably obsure and as incomprehensible as possible, drawing from earlier works of worth and including metaphors and allusions to them. If the author by any chance happens to include a plot in his work, there is a good percentage of possibility that his work will be deemed unworthy, and forever excluded by the adacemia.
Or at least as long as these wise gentlemen live.
Of course, the reader is not expected to understand, not to mention enjoy the work of worth - no one reads anymore, the wise men would say; people read rubbish like Danielle Steel when Bold & Beautiful is not on the TV. And, by God, no such novel of worth can ever be popular - after all, the intelligence level required to appreciate it is apparently not met by the 90% of world population.
A literary figure who is as popular and appreciated like The Beatles? Whose work is admired by thousands of people? And the possibility that these people might learn something from it? That is simply not possible - the wise heads mutter in unison - that is simply not possible! Ask people who know!
Ask us!

History, as we know it, has a nasty habit of repeating itself - though in this case something good might actually come out of it. Writers have been criticized before - most notably Twain and Dickens - and yet, their work is still read and loved by whole generations of readers. Their fiction is taught in schools. Huckleberry Finn has been deemed as vulgar and impropable, much od Dickens's work was described as overtly sentimental, but it prevailed - which can't be said about those who concerned themselved with being the so-called "Arbiters of Literature". In the end, they couldn't grind the knives because they weren't theirs to wield.
The bones of those who tried to define "literature" perished; the works they so often tried to banish did not. No one remembers (or cares) about those who tried to defy the power of Twain or Dickens; they are immortal through their works.
People perish; books do not. No one cares about the boy's club of the literati, who cry out words of rage from the ivory tower, instead of helping people understand the joy of reading, understanding and believing. The main principle of art is to evoke; the problem is, not many of the educated seem to understand that even simple things can evoke great emotions. But they too will go down in history without leaving any mark on it, forgotten and alone; and I believe that there will be a lot of bodies turning in their graves when some titles enter the school curriculum.

"IT" by all means, is not a simple novel. To classify it as a "horror" story is the same as saying that "Moby Dick" is a very long manual on whaling. To say that it is all about the monster is to say that the whale is the villain of the piece.

We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest
fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.
-Robert McCammon

Although vulnerable and physically weak, two factors that make them perfect victims, children posess strenght that most adults had lost in the painful process of maturing - the strenght of imagination. A child feels and experiences emotions much more intensely than an adult, but their unique imaginative capacity allows it to cope with the seemingly impropable much more efficiently. Hence when in 'Salem's Lot an adult faces a vampire, he fells down dead from a heart attack. When a child faces one, he is able to go to sleep ten minutes later. As King puts it, "Such is the difference between men and boys".

King has been depicting children throughout his whole career, and his child characters have subsequently grown older, along with his own children. "IT" is in my opinion his best novel with child protagonists; his most elaborate, complex one. It's also one of his longest, if not the longest.
The lenght is appropriate, because of the theme: After all, it deals with childhood. Childhood defies Time; a day can last forever, and the summers are endless. And then we grow up, all these years pass, just like a blink.

Kids are bent. They think around corners. But starting at roughly age eight, when childhood's second great era begins, the kinks begin to straighten out, one by one. The boundaries of thought and vision begin to close down to a tunnel as we gear up to get along.
-Stephen King, Danse Macabre

Children also posess another one of the invaluable assets that most adults strive to grasp, and it still seeps through their fingers, like sand: Time. Children experience the passing of time differently not because time actually slows down for them (that would be a neat thing indeed) but because they occupy a vastly different social position than that of an average adult. Most adults are forced to work and take care of their families, offspring included. Their imagination is dimmed by the countless hours spent on labor, and for most it never really comes back...the disilusions of experience push it farther abd farther down in the dungeons of the mind, until we finally forget that it was even there in the first place.
Until we forget what we are possible of...what adventures we can create, what worlds and realms, completely out of the whole cloth.
When you are a child the hours lazily pass by, the only important matter is to get home from school and after throwing the backpack in a corner going to get your friends and hanging out with them till dinner...and then go hang out with them some more.

The imagination is an eye, a marvelous third eye that floats free. As children, that eye sees with 20/20 clarity. As we grow older, its vision begins to dim . . . and one day the guy at the door lets you into the bar without asking to see any ID and that's it for you, Cholly; your hat is over the windmill. It's in your eyes. Something in your eyes. Check them out in the mirror and tell me if I'm wrong.
The job of the fantasy writer, or the horror writer, is to bust the walls of that tunnel vision wide for a little while; to provide a single powerful spectacle for that third eye. The job of the fantasy-horror writer is to make you, for a little while, a child again.

Most children experience more during one summer vacation than some adults throughout their whole life; They have their precious innocence, they haven't been spoiled by work, by taxes, by bills and other things that each of us has to face at some point in life. There is always food in the fridge, and there is always roof over the head; and if there is not, there is always hope that there eventually will be, and friends that help to keep it.
Children do more and see more because they can; when school ends, the day is theirs. Their schedule is not as strict as that of an adult; their duties not as responsible. Therefore, they do not have to trouble themselves with money and shelter, and even if they do they are easily able to push these matters away and concentrate completely on what they are doing right here and now.
With little breaks for homework and chores children can spend the whole day playing make-believe with their precious friends, and sometimes the boundaries between the real and the imagined become thin, and sometimes they vanish altogether.
Sometimes their thoughts take shapes...and sometimes their fears do too. Sometimes they joy is almost tangible...and sometimes the boogeymen come out of the closet.
And sometimes they are real.

"IT" is a story of a group of children who are not among the most popular, strongest or smartest; a tale about the group of seven friends living in Derry, Maine in 1958. They form the self-called "losers" club and encounter a horrible, awesome force lurking in their hometown...a force feeding on fear and devouring young children. A force that adults do not seem to see; a force that appears as a clown, holding a hand full of baloons.
The seven children all have one thing in common: they encountered IT. They had all escaped...and that one summer of 58, the seven friends have confronted and defeated IT.
Or so they had thought.
28 years later a young homosexual is thrown off a bridge in Derry...it seems like a classic, clear case of homophobia, but the testimony of one of the witnesses changes everything.
He claims he has seen a clown under the bridge...a clown and a cloud of balloons.
Mike Hanlon, the sole member of the losers who remained in Derry calls the others and reminds them of the promise they had made all these years ago...a promise sealed in blood. A vow to return if IT wasn't dead. If IT will come back. And apparently, IT has.
Can they face IT again? Can they go back to the horror they have long forgotten?
They faced the terror as children. It was their time to take action, and they managed to fight it. Now they are all grown-up...but it is their time,too.
Will the monster be bested...or will IT FEED?

"IT" is composed of two nonlinear narratives. The first is the story of 1958, where we meet the children and they first encounter IT; King effortlesly interleaves this timeline with the story of 1985, where the adults return to Derry to fight IT, basing on research that has been done on the subject and their returning memories. IT avoids the problems of most other lenghty books: plot threads that go nowhere. Each of them is important, and only adds to the suspense and builds up to the shattering climax.

If there is a thing which places King above most other writers, it certainly is his great understandning of adolescence. Few others manage to write so vividly and convinclingly about childhood and coming of age.
The unquestionably hard time of growing up - school, bullies, parents, first crushes - they are all here, and the reader feels as if he himself was experiencing them. King allowed me to re-live my past again; I wasn't around in 1958, but if I were I would undoubtedly be one of the boys. It is truly an impressive experience to read how King builds his characters and the world they live in.
Which of course includes stormdrains...which might be empty, but then they might be not.

IT also manages to adress important social topics: racism, prejudice, domestic abuse. But most importantly it is a story about friendship and childhood: How it irrevocably binds people together and affect their lives. About the power of memory and imagination; about the terror of the familiar world which hides many secrets around the corners and down in the sewers. It's a study of children facing the uncanny, and overcoming their greatest fear: the fear of being alone in fright.
IT is a story of seven friends, each different, each indispensable and irreplaceable.
stuttering Bill Denbrough, the unlikely group leader;
Ben Hansocom, an overweight boy, with a talent for architecture;
Riche Tozier, the brilliant witty boy of many voices;
Mike Hanlon, the black kid who comes to the group to find acceptance and finds it;
Eddie Kaspbrak, the asthmatic and fragile boy who finds within the group a thing he has never dreamed of - courage;
Stan Uris, a sensible boy who brings understanding;
and Beverly March, the sole girl in the group, an redhead who is both sweet and tough, and helps the boys in most dire of moments.

King has proven himself earlier to be capable of producing an epic narrative (The Stand in 1978), but I think that IT is equal to - or even surpasses - the story of the plague.
This is a brilliant novel, beautifully told in crisp, clear prose, with truly unforgettable characters and situations. It is the essence of good fiction; the truth inside the lie. King knows his way around the corners; and has that undefiniable look in the eye, the dreamy look of a child. His words are the best set of toys he ever had; and he's generous enough to share them with us. And when he's showing us how his trains travel along the tracks of his imagination and where they go to, we won't dare to blink because we could miss a minute of the experience...even when the carriage passes through some dark tunnels.

And if it is the work of an "inadequate writer", a producer of "penny dreadfuls", without any "aesthetic value" or other high-flown pretentious gibberish babbled by people who would most likely want to cast Stephen King and his readers to hell for destroying the image of "Literary Reader"?
Like Huck Finn, I'd shout loud "All right, then, I'll GO to hell!"
Literary Heaven might have a better climate; but Literary Hell sure has better company.
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 You can't be clowning about IT!!!


THOSE TERRIFYING CLOWNS

It was easier to be brave when you were someone else.

It's kinda..."funny" how such characters, the clowns, that they are supposed to make us laugh, and not matter that, you can find just too much examples of "evil clowns", many from fantasy but even at least one from horrific reality, that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley...or any place at all!!!

The Joker, Stitches, Homie from The Simpsons, Punchinello from Dean Koontz's Life Expectancy, The alien clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space movie, Doctor Who's Robot Clowns, Spawn's Violator, Rob Zombie's Captain Spaulding, Fucko from the Scary or Die film, The Clown Doll from the Amusement film, also the quite recently Twisty from the Fourth Season of American Horror Story, and even, from real life, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy aka The Killer Clown.

Even, while not terrifying, but indeed quite annoying, there is Binky from Garfield cartoons.

And those are only the examples that came easier to my mind and that I watched or read about at some point.

So, why society is so inclined to accept and being really scared of a kind of character that was supposed to make us laugh? Of course, if they are chasing us with butcher knives, that helps to input the scary factor, but be honest, even in the first moment that you watch them, before they would do anything nasty, you are already scared with them. They look terrifying!

Just like the one that it's breathing behind you right now...
 THE POWER OF LIES

We lie best when we lie to ourselves.

Sorry for the lie on the last line of the previous section. But it was just to introduce the most powerful element of this novel...

...the lies.

I think that Stephen King, showed us how powerful can be the lies.

The Losers Club were lying themselves pretending that nothing unusual happened on their childhoods. Even some of them were keep lying to themselves that their adult lives were okay. Lying in such powerful way that their memories are fractured.

The adult people of the town of Derry were lying themselves too about the sexual preferences of some of their fellow neighbours.

The town's Police officers are lying on their reports.

Some moms were lying that their children had some illness.

Pennywise is lying about ITs own real appearance to everybody.

Lies, lies, lies!

Some of us prefer to lie ourselves than facing our lives.

The temptation of lying and creating false "realities" instead of dealing with the harsh truths.

Lying ourselves instead of facing the real monsters in our lives.

Even sometimes, lying ourselves that we haven't any other option than to deal with the monsters alone...

...when there are people around us willing to help us, if we just tell the truth.

But telling the truth about our problems, many times is even scarier than the lies.

All of us float...

...between lies and truths.
***********************************************************************************
WHAT A RIDE
First off, I'd like to start out by saying I DON'T NORMALLY LIKE STEPHEN KING. If you look at the other books I've read so far (Carrie, The Shining, The Gunslinger, and Different Seasons), they have all been rated 3 stars or less. Yet somehow, this book really spoke to me. I will also say that the reason I picked this up in the first place was because of the new movie adaptation, which was SUPER GREAT, but also super different from the book in many ways. I'm so glad I decided to pick up the book though, so thank you movie for making that happen!

The last 50 or so pages dragged a bit for me, but all in all I loved pretty much everything about this book. The plot was intriguing, and while it was a pretty slow book overall (and over 1100 pages at that!) I never found myself getting bored or sick of reading it. The characters were really well fleshed out, and by the end of the book they all felt like close friends.

I've heard many people complain about the sort of non-linear narrative, saying it's confusing, but I thought it was perfect for this book! The past and present sort of meld together seamlessly, and it was very artistic and added a lot to the story for me. I also thought it was neat how in the last part of the book, sometimes it wasn't entirely clear whether or not you were reading about the past or the present, but it still made sense somehow.

Lastly, I love how Stephen King deals with the idea of fear and how it can become a physical thing. I've also just recently watched The Mist where a similar idea exists, and I think it really adds a new level of terror! On the surface this book seems like it's just about a clown running around killing children, but really it's about a seemingly all-powerful being that feeds off the fear of Derry, and boy is Derry full of fear. OH man it's so freaky, but in a more surreal way than I expected. So I will say if you're wary of picking up this book because you think it will be full of scary stuff, I'd say don't worry; the new movie is scarier (and even then, it's mostly just bloody).

I want to say EVERYONE PLEASE READ THIS but at the same time I know it's definitely not for everybody. It's full of swearing, bullying, racism, homophobia, sex, domestic/child abuse, and plenty of blood and guts to go around, but all of those things had a purpose and added to the theme of fear and how it affects people. Like I said though... Not for everybody. lol.
***********************************************************************************
Be true, be brave, stand

I'm astonished, what a book!

We all float...

You want scary? Pennywise is here and he'll scare the be-Jesus out of you every other page. Pennywise made an entire generation scared of clowns when the film came out, kinda topical now that all these assholes are roaming the streets in clown outfits. Suffice to say I'm extra scared to go for a walk!

Above all, the best thing about this book is that it's wonderful. King manages to capture the essence of childhood and what it means to have a close group of friends. It's quite similar to Boy's Life in that respect.

I was a tad reluctant to read this having watched the film and due to the 1376 pages (which took me over a month to read!!) but it was absolutely worth it. The ending, I think is better and there is, naturally, more story.

The way it's written also highlights how talented a writer King is. He seemlessly jumps from kids to adults throughout. I doubt anyone could have pulled this off as clearly and as beautifully as King does.

Although genuinely horrifying, this book captures childhood wonder perfectly and receives all the stars. King at his very best, I know it's a bit of a doorstop but it's worth it, trust me!

He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/830502.It

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