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Re-reading "It" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Re-reading "It"
I always re-read during workdays, as I can keep an eye on the time and not be that worried about getting lost in a chapter, etc, etc. Since the subject of "It" had come up here, I dug up my copy (which has lost its back cover somewhere), and I've been enjoying a re-read.

  • I've never been entirely convinced that Stan's death wasn't directly caused by It. Yes, he did have a weakness, and yes, he did seem to be the one who remembered more than the others (Patty overhears him talking about things more specifically than any of the others do), possibly because his ordered mind couldn't handle a big memory gap. But the circumstances... the bathtub, the dripping water (water is It's signature), the fact that the text refers to "crosses" slashed in his arms, rather than t's (sounds like one of It's sick jokes), and of course, Pennywise asking, "Do you want to know what Stan Uris saw before he died?" Yet no one seems to ask it in the book, not really. Just a thought.
  • You can see King "warming up" to the book. Early on, the dialogue, in particular, is stilted as he's warming to the characters. Then, bam, he starts to find his rhythm with them. I wish he'd gone back and cleaned up the early conversations, especially the one between Bill and Audra... though I wouldn't give up Bill's memory of his college creative writing class for anything. Politics always change; stories never do. Preach it. Also, I had a handy face for the instructor. I think I had him when I was in college. ;p
  • The sex scene at the end is more jarring now than it was when I was younger. I think it feels now like he felt he just had to have a sex scene, so he created a scenario that made it necessary, rather than having a scenario going in which sex became necessary.
  • Beverly's father is one creepy mofo.
  • I'd love to read a whole novella about Dick Halloran and Will Hanlon and the Black Spot. That's by far my favorite interlude.
  • I remember talking to one of my teens who read it, and said, "You know what It is? It's sex! Can you believe it?" And I know that's part of the interpretation, but there's a lot more to it, and it's not the entire attitude (in fact, I think the reason he forced a "good magic" sex scene was to undercut that interpretation). It seems to be rapacity and violence and rage and mindless consumption and emptiness ("It, who only ate"... why eat? Because of emptiness inside).
  • I happened to find a copy of the miniseries, and was watching it casually while reading the book, and all I could think of was how much of its soul was sapped by the condensing of the novel. The characters became very flat, the story less than urgent. And the screenwriter's dialogue made even the early part of the book look like Shakespeare. And what was up with Stan being a Boy Scout? Not that it's wrong, inherently, that he would be, but that wasn't the gestalt of Stan, you know? It was his finicky neatness, his natural sense of order and fair play. And Richie? Man, what a wretched interpretation. And why start Ben in NYC instead of Nebraska? The Nebraska scene would have been epic and cinematic, and really reinforced his loneliness (the only person he has to talk to his his for-heaven's-sake bartender!). It was great dramatic shorthand that was entirely lost by going to a Manhattan highrise with a bimbo after a big awards ceremony.
  • That said, the Georgie scene was done perfectly.

There are other things. Anyone who wants to talk about anything in this book, post away.
8 comments or Leave a comment
may_child From: may_child Date: November 22nd, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooohh! I'm so glad you decided to re-visit "It." The book isn't King's best, IMO, nor is it my favorite -- those slots belong to "The Shining" and "'Salem's Lot," respectively -- but the novel is the first time King seriously toyed with jumping back and forth through timelines, which is a tricky business. Not surprisingly, there are continuity issues aplenty with "It," as well as some flat-out mistakes. For instance, Beverly's scary mofo of a father is initially described as her stepfather.

I never liked the scene at the end where Beverly has sex with all the boys in the Losers Club. It didn't ring true at all. When Beverly and Bill sleep together as adults, well, I wasn't crazy about it but I could understand it. Not so with the Losers Club sexathon.

There's no doubt in my mind that It was directly involved with Stan's death. Stan was the only one of the Losers that saw Its true face, so to speak, and it scared him badly enough to look down and speak in a faltering voice when he promised to come back if It was not dead, but I felt It used his death to send a message to the other six Losers -- a message that was both an invitation (a la the "Come back, come back, come back" message that was written in Jerry Bellwood's blood) and a warning: "When I'm done with you, Stan's death will look like a walk in the park."

Ah, the miniseries -- I found it spectacularly disappointing. I've heard rumors that a remake is in the works. Unfortunately, the people remaking it will condense the story even further down than the first miniseries did: to a mere four-hour tale.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 22nd, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tom's father's death is also told twice, in the same words, and one little tic I noticed this time through was that on Eddie's walk through town, he says he was on the bus with Bev until she got off at Lower Main, then it switches to Bev, who thinks about how she walked aimlessly down there from the Town House. Those are easy writing mistakes to make, but someone somewhere in the process should have caught them, for that exact reason. I'd missed that they ever referred to Alvin as Bev's stepfather, though.

Like I said, I think I know the thematic reason for the sexathon--to undercut the "It is a metaphor for sex, plain and simple" interpretation by showing positive sex magic in opposition to It--but it really is, to put it mildly, jarring. It's like he realized how the theme could be interpreted and panicked that he'd be seen as "anti-sex" or something, so quickly set up a scenario in which he could show "good sex" vs. "bad sex"... only they're all eleven, for cripe's sakes. That's not going to be "good sex" no matter how it gets spun.

I've tried bringing up the idea that Stan's "suicide" had all the earmarks of a murder by It before, but since no one in the book seems inclined to discuss the matter, it's been dismissed. Why do you think the other Losers don't really discuss it?

The first It miniseries was also four hours on TV (three without commercials), so it's not going to condense it more, but that was too much condensing as it was, coupled with decisions that were just plain weird, like the Nebraska to NYC change for Ben (which also took him from being an extreme loner to a party boy, changing the adult character completely). Here's what I'd like from SciFi channel, or some other channel that has "specialty" programming: A Stephen King series. It lasts a season and has one episode a week. This would work especially well with "It," which is so episodic, and it could even be punctuated with the Interludes. Another year, they could do The Stand. DT might take more than one season.

Edited at 2008-11-22 03:04 pm (UTC)
may_child From: may_child Date: November 22nd, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, OK. I had forgotten that the first miniseries was four hours as well; for some reason I thought it was six hours.

In any case, I agree -- "It" would work much better as a one-season-long series, and so would "The Stand." But unfortunately, I don't see either happening. It's one of those things I would love to do if I had the money and means -- make a movie or TV movie version of one of King's books that does said book justice, meaning that it doesn't cut out/tame down huge chunks of the story.
karmyn75 From: karmyn75 Date: November 22nd, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish they would have had more of Mike's childhood in the movie because I loved the character of Will. Without him, Mike never would have started learning the town's history and he wouldn't have learned just how It was so much a part of the town. I also wish they had shown the destruction of the town.
When I was in high school there was a period of time around the time that the miniseries came out that just about everybody was reading the book. The general consensus was that it was a good book, but few people actually finished it. It does tend to drag there towards the end.
And wtf was up with Eddie being a virgin in the miniseries? I guess they couldn't have a preteen orgy in the miniseries and Eddie got the short end of the stick on that deal.
I think I'll go read some now.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: November 24th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I really, really want a new It miniseries. Or even a big-screen version.

I have other thoughts to add but it's late. For now, you are right on about Stan's death IMHO. And, my novella (or really, short story) choice would be Patty Uris, post-Stan's suicide.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 25th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
So, have you given up on your NaNo story, then?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I learned to hate it in approximately eight days. :) But I'm re-working here and there, seeing what I can salvage and use.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 25th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to hear that. Hopefully you can pick something good out of it, though.
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