9.20.2012

King's Highway pt. 36: It


"This book is gratefully dedicated to my children. My mother and my wife taught me how to be a man. My children taught me how to be free.

NAOMI RACHEL KING, at fourteen;
JOSEPH HILLSTROM KING, at twelve;
OWEN PHILLIP KING, at seven.
Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.
"

Not only is that a nice dedication, but it's a useful sentiment / mission statement to keep in mind as you make your way through these 1138 pages.

Wraparound cover to the 25th anniversary edition
From the FearNet review: "It marks a deliberate shift in King's career, a stated conscious decision to sum up everything he had to say about children and monsters and functioning as a statement of intent as to what he hoped to accomplish with his later novels: explorations of adults and the dual natures of creativity and creation.  It is a massive undertaking, not only addressing and expanding upon the themes in his earlier fiction, but also transcending those themes, uncovering and creating something new."

And how! Here's another good review.
WHAT YOU'LL SEE

Chances are, if you're reading this, you know what It is all about, so I won't devote too much space to the plot. For those who don't know, though, here is Library Journal's summary: "Moving back and forth between 1958 and 1985, the story tells of seven children in a small Maine town who discover the source of a series of horrifying murders. Having conquered the evil force once, they are summoned together 27 years later when the cycle begins again."

That's all you really need to know, though one of the top-rated comments on Its Amazon page goes a bit further:

"It is two stories being told at once. One is the story of their childhood, of their first encounter with Pennywise the Clown, their troubles with the local bullies, the impact of It upon their lives, their own personal struggles, and (Its) eventual defeat. This is told from the beginning of the book to the near end of it. At the same time, the story of the return to Derry, of the research done to see what It was, the memories that were now urging to return, and subsequent events that followed which I won't spoil here. Both timelines alternate in their tellings to fit one another perfectly, even if not in perfect chronological order, and they're even further juiced with quick points of time long before their own, dipping into what else It has been up to. This construction is utterly beautiful in how it's placed, and completely builds the story up for all its plot points and climax."

I have to mostly-agree with that last sentence. Whatever else one might say of it, It is beautifully structured. (These pronouns are going to screw me up; apologies in advance) The events of 1957-1958 flow seamlessly with the events of 1985-1986, and the intermittent sections (narrated by Mike Hanlon) about Derry's past complement them perfectly, adding depth and nuance. Their collective amnesia about their interactions with It works to the story's advantage, as well; the reader discovers as they re-discover. (I also quite like how the adults all more or less ignore what goes on in their town every twenty-seven years; it adds to the children's feeling of loneliness and solidarity) Although it's one long-ass novel, it never feels bloated.


"Its true form as perceived by the human eye is that of a female spider that houses Its essence: namely writhing orange lights (termed "Deadlights"), looking directly into which can either kill a person or drive them insane."
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And the only way to defeat an evil spider/clown that feeds on fear ("fear salts the meat") is to give yourself 100% to your inner child/ utilize that magical imagination that only truly exists when you're a kid. As one other Amazon reviewer notes, "What is scarier: Pennywise or the reality of what happens to us once we leave childhood behind?"

But in some ways, of course, the reality is we want to leave childhood behind. It can just as easily be viewed as the terrifying deep from which we're relieved to escape, a Maurice Sendak pit of horrors, colonization, and sublimated panic.

And speaking of Sendak, It melds the sensibilities of  The Goonies with Where the Wild Things Are. At the same time that childhood/ innocence/ imagination is a comfort and that the solidarity formed during that time endures in a way like no other, it's also the source of all our terror. You are never more vulnerable than when you are a child, but, It argues, perhaps you're never better-equipped to deal with what life can throw at you, either.

As The Turtle tells Bill in the last act, "What can be done when you're eleven can often never be done again."


This site never fails to crack me up. Worth enlarging for a better view. All clowns are the minotaur.
WHOM YOU'LL MEET

I originally planned for It to be the last stop on the King's Highway. (All roads lead to IT, or some such thing.) But as it introduces a rather important character/ concept to the Dark Tower series, it was bumped up the queue on account of...


At the time of publication, Maturin (aka "The Turtle") had not been introduced in the Dark Tower.
I was 13 when I read It. It was the first new King book I'd read. (I remember a radio campaign on 92PRO-FM and WHJY, but I can find no internet evidence of this. I can't be making that up, can I? Perhaps it's the search terms I'm using.) I recall my friends being amused at how quickly and steadily my bookmark moved centimeter-by-centimeter from front to back over a succession of study halls. (Maybe they weren't even amused, actually. Speed-reading is a useful skill to have, but it's a bit like being the guy on the X-Men whose mutant power is... well, speed-reading.) The Turtle is introduced during the Ritual of Chud.
No, not this 80s "classic." But bonus points if you knew what the letters stood for without being told.
From StrangeHorizons: "This Himalayan tradition, the Ritual of Chud, requires the shaman to meet the taelus, the shape-changer, face to face. After the holy man and the monster each stick their tongues out and overlap them, "you both bit in all the way so you were sort of stapled together, eye to eye" (675), Bill explains. The two then engage in a riddle contest."

(More riddling! Blaine the Mono would be happy.)

Anyway, so there I am in 8th grade, reading this, and suddenly the main hero mentally "bites tongues" with the main villain. Like something out of Marvel's Secret Wars, they then rocket through spacetime towards something called "the Deadlights" beyond all conception of reality. Before they get there, Bill speaks with a giant, cosmic turtle who, it is revealed, created the universe once by vomiting it up. He tells Bill, basically, Nice to meet you and all, but you better get your head in the game, and I take no part in these affairs...

And, then he's done. When Bill, Ritchie and Pennywise Chud-it-out for a second time, Pennywise tells them the turtle is dead. (But, he isn't, don't worry.) And that's that. Wait, what? Yep. I remember thinking 'What the hell is this cosmic turtle stuff?' when I read it in the 80s. And probably would have this time, as well, had I not been reading the Dark Towers. Still, this is kind of... stoney stuff.


Speaking of being stoned, I got this image for Turtle Island (aka North America according to Gary Snyder and others) from a site for "Uniting the Indigenous Peoples to Create the Indigo Bridge." More power to them and all (sincerely) but damn! BLAAOW! I think Rusted Root's CD sales just shot up from my typing those words.
So, we don't really learn much about the Turtle here except that he exists, floats in the space beyond all rational meaning, maybe created the universe while he was hungover, and, you know, maybe he just sort of died. If I sound critical or mocking of this, let me also say I look forward to finding out more about the Turtle in the last few Dark Tower books, but it's clear it's a benevolent force that, despite what it tells Bill, does help King protagonists from time to time. I kind of love the cosmic randomness of the Turtle's introduction and would have it no other way.
Next, one of King's most popular creations, Pennywise the Clown aka IT. There is a good summation of what exactly it is at the SK wiki. But "evil shape-shifting clown" works as a placeholder.


Part of Pennywise's popularity is due to Tim Curry's performance in the TV adaptation.

Funny, disturbing, memorable. (And that clip above is rather shockingly suggestive, isn't it? Creepy.)

A performance equal to Dennis Hopper's "Frank" from Blue Velvet.


Not that I'm comparing it to Blue Velvet.
Overall, the TV adaptation is a failure, I think, but we'll get to that momentarily. It has its moments, to be sure, but it is only a dim echo of the novel. Tim Curry's Pennywise, though, seems to have settled comfortably into the collective unconscious, another constellation next to Cujo, Christine, Children of the Corn, and Red Rum.

Why, h-h-h-hi, B-b-b-b-b-b-ill!
As I mentioned when I covered "The Library Policeman," Pennywise may or may not be related to some other King villains. (Mr. Linoge from Storm of the Century? I'd like to see a Deadlights family tree.)

And The Loser's Club, our heroes.


Top row: Ben, Stan, Ritchie, Pennywise (photobomb!) and Eddie. Bottom row: Mike, Beverly, and Stuttering Bill.
As kids.
All richly-drawn and detailed, and each serves the plot/ brings a unique weapon to the fight against It.

Guest cameo: Richard "Dick" Halloran: A chef in Derry Army E Company. He's only in it for a hot minute, saving Mike Hanlon's father at the fire at the Black Spot. I'd forgotten all about this (and if I ever learned it to begin with, I forgot that, too) so this was a pleasant surprise. And if you're asking yourself Who the hell is Dick Halloran? you're going to kick yourself once you find out. You almost wish you could reach in the novel and tell him to never under any circumstances accept a job in Colorado.

TRAIL NOTES

- Okay, this came out in 1986.


Here's the cover of the copy I had back then.
Here's the copy I got this year for $3.50 at Myopic.(The Shakespeare and Co. of Chicago! The That's Entertainment of Used Bookstores Everywhere!)
Open to the publication page of this last copy and what do you see?



First Signet Printing 1981?

I have it on good authority that "there must have been some misprints; the novel was unquestionably NOT published in 1981... an excerpt from it -- called "The Bird and the Album" -- WAS published (in the program for that year's World Fantasy Convention, which was called A Fantasy Reader) in 1981.  So maybe that's where the confusion comes from. I've got three copies of the book, and they all say 1986.  So if yours says 1981, odds are you are the owner of a potentially valuable misprint."

Or, I have one that was published on a different level of the Dark Tower, which is the theory I prefer. I'm tempted to write 'PROPERTY OF JAKE CHAMBERS' on the inside cover.

To complicate matters, go to Amazon and they list the book as being published in 1987! Get it together, internet.

- The band Shark Puppy from Duma Key is not a real band, but King quotes one of their "songs" a few times in the text. If you look at the copyright page at the beginning of the book, you see: Permission to use lyrics from "Dig" by Shark Puppy (R. Tozier, W. Denbrough), granted by Bad Nineteen Music, copyright 1986. R. Tozier and W. Denbrough are, of course, Ritchie and Stuttering Bill. Nice touch.

- Who wouldn't watch a 'Tales from Derry' ongoing show? I sure would.



TRAIL DIFFICULTY

Fans of short reads (or short blogs) will not be pleased... but, for what it's worth, the book reads pretty quickly. It is definitely the proverbial "page-turner." I was on page 800-something before I realized Crikey, I'm on page 800-something! 

"Beep Beep, Ritchie!" appears in this novel around 100,000 times. I'd like to think whomever made this clip below is commenting on that.



Along those lines, although it didn't bother me, Bill's stuttering might be a stumbling block for some readers. It's an essential part of his character, so I wouldn't change a thing, but the stutters plus the 'Beep Beep's really add to the page count.

Henry Bowzer, the bully/psycho of the book, is one of those flush-the-psychic-toilet-type villains. Everything negative is loaded up and dumped on him. An Alpha Male of racism, anti-semitism, etc. He does come off as truly menacing, though, which is no small feat when you're sharing bad-guy-center-stage with Pennywise. But for my personal taste, Henry was a bit overdone.

And, well, let's just look it straight in the face. At the end of the book, after the final confrontation/ egg-stomping with It, the Losers Club loses its way in the sewers. Beverly steps up to the plate to save them. And by that, I mean, she has sex with everyone, one at a time. Everyone settles in for a nice old-fashioned romantic sewer gangbang.

King's explanation: "I wasn't really thinking of the sexual aspect of it. The book dealt with childhood and adulthood --1958 and Grown Ups. The grown ups don't remember their childhood. None of us remember what we did as children--we think we do, but we don't remember it as it really happened. Intuitively, the Losers knew they had to be together again. The sexual act connected childhood and adulthood. It's another version of the glass tunnel that connects the children's library and the adult library. Times have changed since I wrote that scene and there is now more sensitivity to those issues."

Strange Horizons' take: "Beverly, the only girl in the circle, presents a special case; she employs no material talisman, but the power of her awakening sexuality. When the circle threatens to fall apart after the first defeat of It, causing the children to lose their way in the tunnels beneath the Barrens, Bev, like a priestess, recreates the bond by coupling with each of the boys. King here seems to allude to the familiar magical motif of a virgin sacrifice, but again he sets the image in a context of personal spiritual power, not the rituals of an organized cult. "There was power in this act, all right," Bev reflects, "a chain-breaking power that was blood-deep" (1082). When she experiences her first orgasm (with Ben), "she feels her power suddenly shift to him; she gives it gladly and goes with it" (1084), forging the necessary connection."

Samuel L. Jackson's take:



I really don't know what to say about this one. I guess there are aspects of both explanations that make sense to me, but at the end of the day, this still strikes me as wrong. Not in the won't someone please think of the children sense, but in the not-sure-if-this-actually-works sense. This sequence is the only thing (not counting the random wtf-ness of The Turtle) that keeps It from being an unreserved masterpiece. (Though really, how could you put it up against anything that doesn't have a cosmic turtle/ pre-teen sewer gangbang? It's a category of one.) But flippancy aside, it truly is both a remarkably well-constructed novel and a wholly absorbing read.

I wonder, actually, why it's never been targeted by angry groups, of any variety (it's easy to imagine both hardcore feminists and hardcore offended-about-un-Christian-values/communism uniting on this front, something as rare as the transit of the Venus). Not even so much why but how. (shrugs)

(I'd love it if Chris Columbus revealed this was his original idea for the ending for The Goonies. If I were him, I'd have been telling that joke since the late 80's.)

SCENIC VIEW 



Like The Stand, but even more-so, this suffers from an attempt to PG-ify definitely-R-rated material. (Hell, X-rated: unsurprisingly, the filmmakers chose not to portray the tweener sewer get-down in their adaptation.) Whereas Pennywise, as aforementioned, comes across in all his lunatic glory, Henry Bowzer does not. This was a time on American TV where you could still use "the n-word" if you put it in the mouth of a racist, but even so, Henry's effectiveness is nullified somewhat.



That's perhaps the problem. Excising the material of anything not-ready-for-prime-time fatally injures the story. (Although this:



is very funny to me.)

The casting is good (I remember being truly surprised by John Ritter in this back in 1990; I'd only ever seen him in Three's Company and Real Men); the direction is fine. Excepting the above, everything hums along fine for the first hour or so. So what ruins it? Basically, this:



Not only does it look cheesy as hell, but it ret-cons the whole damn story. All it takes is a couple of rocks to kill It? What the hell you so worried about, then, Losers? And without any of the Ritual of Chud stuff, what are we to make of the scary clown suddenly being this spider-creature? Just a terrible filmmaking choice. I don't know if they ran out of time/ money or what, but damn. I sympathize. I'm curious as hell as to how Cary Fukanada plans to pull it off.

Finally, I should mention that Jonathan Brandis, the actor who played Stuttering Bill, committed suicide at the age of 27. From his wiki: "Paul Petersen, president of A Minor Consideration—an organization that deals with issues affecting child actors—stated, 'Speculations as to the underlying cause of this tragedy are exactly that: speculations. It serves no purpose to leap to conclusions for none of us will really know what led Jonathan to his decision to take his life.'" True enough, so I won't offer any. Just my condolences.


RIP, buddy; you were a good Stuttering Bill.
He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.

NEXT!
INSOMNIA

29 comments:

  1. First, Seanbaby's clown maze is pure genius. One of the funniest things a funny dude has ever done.

    Second,the World Turtle. You know, of course, about the role of the World Turtle in the myths of China, India, and those of Native Americans. Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books, which pre-date "It," contain the concept of a Turtle supporting creation on its shell. However, perhaps a trifle mind-blowing to me, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the publication of a certain book, what I was instantly reminded of was "Fastitocalon," from "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil." Here's a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastitocalon_%28poem%29

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    1. 'Look, there is Fastitocalon!
      An island good to land upon,
      Although 'tis rather bare.
      Come, leave the sea! And let us run,
      Or dance, or lie down in the sun!
      See, gulls are sitting there!
      Beware!'

      That is great, thank you for the head's up. (And it's punctuated a la Stan Lee! Something of which I'm often guilty.)

      Yeah, the Dark Tower seems to be flypaper for every cool thing King has read or came across. I wouldn't be surprised if Pratchett's work was on his radar, or it's just synchronicity. I know he specifically cites Tolkien as a seminal influence on his plotting.

      Agreed 100% on that clown maze. Those comics that guy does in general are among "my favorite things ever."

      I should mention, the Turtle's story/ role in the Dark Tower mythos is still in flux, for me. I'll have more on the Turtle come pt. 45-ish. (Good God I've got a lot to read...)

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  2. The novel's construction really is just awesomely well-achieved. I'm convinced a truly great movie version (or, more likely, a multi-part television version on HBO or some similar cable network) of the book could be made someday, but unless it makes a valiant effort to replicate the structure, it won't really satisfy me.

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  3. On the subject of the Turtle: I can, for some reason, remember that the Turtle was a concept I was already familiar with, via the old "turtles all the way down" myth.

    More on that here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

    Thing is, I don't know where my familiarity came from. No clue.

    Either way, as I recall, the Turtle didn't give me much pause back in the day. I was then, and am now, a bit of a sucker for head-trippy cosmological stuff like that, so I suppose it worked pretty well on me.

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    1. Actually, me, too. I'm very forgiving of head-trippy cosmological stuff. Case in point, the movie Waking Life. No cosmic turtles therein, but a lot of people couldn't abide a movie about dreams and death that was mainly conversations and philosophy. Whereas I was more than willing to go along for that ride.

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    2. I wasn't a huge fan of "Waking Life," but I love "Slacker," which is somewhat similar. Somewhere, I've got that on laserdisc; if only I still had a functional laserdisc player!

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    3. Ah, the good ol' laser disc days. I can relate. (I bought almost all of Star Trek TOS first on VHS, then on laser disc, last on DVD... one of these days, I'll do it again for Blu-Ray. It never ends.)

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    4. Regarding the "turtles all the way down" concept, it is mentioned in an anecdote at the beginning of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. That is where I first heard of it - not sure if it is the same for you.

      And interestingly enough, I also had a friend in college nicknamed Chud, which is also why I knew what the movie's acronym stood for. :)

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    5. You didn't attend the University of Alabama, by chance...?

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    6. I ask because my friend who is nicknamed Chud has a college buddy named Jeff! So I thought there was chance you might be him.

      I wonder how many dudes nicknamed Chud are floating around out there? What a world.

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    7. That is an interesting coincidence. I'll even take it a step further - my friend Chud's real name is Jeff too! My recollection is that we upperclassmen in marching band that year decided ahead of time that Chud was a hilarious name and should be bestowed upon an arbitrary member of the incoming freshman class. And the rest was history...

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    8. *sigh*

      My friend Chud is the photographer/videographer for the UA marching band...!

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    9. LOL...now that is a bit spooky.

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    10. I think it'd behoove you both to find out which of your friends has currency with President Chadbourne's name on it...

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    11. I love any day that brings me a "Reploids" reference!

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  4. Nice C.H.U.D. reference. Never saw that movie; I've got a friend, who's about a decade older than me, whose nickname is Chud. Not sure what's up with that; never have had the courage to ask.

    Also a nice "Secret Wars" reference, but here's a shameful admission: I've never read "Secret Wars." Oh, I've got a copy; I can see it from where I'm sitting right now. I bought it over a decade ago, but have yet to make time to actually read the durn thing.

    But oh, how I can recall the lure of "Secret Wars" when it was happening! I never got to read any of the comics when they were coming out, but I was aware of them, and read some of the issues of Spidey that took place on either side of the event. It always seemed like this big Holy Grail of a story that I'd never get to read, which is why when I got back into comics circa the end of the millennium, that trade was one of the first I bought.

    Just never actually got around to reading it. It might be one I'm subconsciously saving for some reason. Or, more likely, I'm lazy.

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    1. You and me both, brother! Well, I've read it, but I just mean, I can remember the gravitational pull of Secret Wars lo those many years ago... I was living in Germany, then, too, so my brother and I counted down the days til our summer vacation back to the states. Whereupon we wasted no time in transforming our accumulated allowances into a stack of comics.

      Issue #12 of that is one of my favorite comics; Shooter wrote a good Doctor Doom.

      Even Secret Wars 2 had its moments. I liked a lot of the tie-ins, even if the overall effect wasn't too great.

      C.H.U.D. needs a reboot! Actually, it doesn't. but I'm surprised there hasn't been one just the same.

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  5. Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm going to be carpetbombing your site with comments today. I figured it was easiest to just split my thoughts into various comments; that way, if any of them merited responses, it's be easier to track. Aren't I thoughtful?

    Anyways, on the subject of Tim Curry as Pennywise: I have many, many, many issues with the movie, but the only negative thing I would even consider saying about Curry's performance is that it is SO good, it only serves to underscore how weak much of the rest of the movie is. It's truly an iconic performance, and it annoys me that Curry was never able to become the true superstar he was clearly destined to be.

    When and if the two-movie remake by Cary Fukunaga gets made, he is going to have a tough time filling Curry's floppy shoes. My idea -- one I'm, frankly, immensely proud of -- would be to cast Andy Serkis and do some or all of it via mo-cap. That way, he could play Pennywise in all of his/her/its guises. I think that'd be pretty great personally, and if I was in charge of Hollywood, I'd be concentrating my efforts on making it happen.

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    1. GREAT idea. I second that times a thousand.

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  6. Shark Puppy! I had no idea there was an "It" reference in "Duma Key"!

    Fascinating.

    Would you say this is an indication that "Duma Key" takes place in a different reality than "It"? Or do you think King is saying that after the events of "It," Denbrough and Tozier formed a band and achieved a modicum of fame?

    My money is on the former.

    Awesome!

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    1. Oh and no problem breaking up the comments - easier to respond to that way. Thanks for them all, as always.

      Good question. I agree; I say Duma Key is in a different reality than It. But It/ Dreamcatcher/ Bag of Bones/ Insomnia all seem to be in the same one... hmmm... Unless, like SK himself, Bill Denbrough the author moonlights as a rhythm guitarist with Ritchie in the Rock Bottom Shark Puppy Remainders.

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    2. I'm not convinced that "Dreamcatcher" actually is. Theoretically, it could exist in a universe in which Derry actually exists, but so does "Stephen King," which would mean that in that world, residents of Derry would be familiar with a fictional version of Pennywise. That could easily lead to "Pennywise Lives" graffiti.

      Admittedly, that's a wacky idea, but it wouldn't surprise me.

      At some point, somebody is going to sit down and write the definitive exploration of all the cross-overs in King's fiction, and explore how they function as a whole. And if they don't do it, I'LL do it.

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    3. You know it didn't occur to me until exactly-right-now that Dreamcatcher HAS to exist in a separate universe than the others. Unless the other stories are meant to come before it and that the worlds of Bag of Bones et al. end with the whole alien invasion/ infection.

      I wouldn't mind seeing a Dreamcatcher sequel... words that, I know, may inspire someone to call the men in the white coats on me, but hear me out: in the same way that Roland's ka-tet encounters the 1985 ravaged by Captain Trips but it's a different world than the one we know in The Stand, maybe Roland's ka-tet can materialize in a world where Mister Gray was successful, or at least quasi-successful, and the only solution is to shoot their way out. DREAMCATCHER 2: KILL, DUDDITS, KILL! or something. Donnie Wahlberg returns (inexplicably, but who cares) but besides that, cast unknowns as Roland and the gang. And Meat Loaf as Mister Gray. BAM.

      Ah, to be an eccentric gazillionaire. I'd greenlight that in a hot minute. Probably better for the world that I'm nowhere near the chain of command for such decisions.

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    4. I'd happily read a sequel to Dreamcatcher the novel; I'd watch a sequel to Dreamcatcher the movie, but NOT happily.

      Unless it was as described above; that'd make me pretty happy, I'd imagine.

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  7. Annoyances: ah, yes, the old "Beep-beep, Richie" refrain. Richie is one of my least-favorite of all King characters. Not AS much in his juvenile guise, because I get that version of him; but the adult version seems like someone I would genuinely hate to spend even a few moments around. And as played by Harry Anderson in the movie, I LOATHE Richie.

    As for Bill's stuttering ... man, I find that hard to deal with on the page. The way I read (and for all I know, this is how everyone reads) is to basically read aloud, just without speaking. And unless I literally force myself to not do it, my brain tends to want to "sound" out each letter. Consequently, every time I get to a bit of Stuttering Bill's dialogue, I trip over it a bit mentally. It's annoying.

    It's also appropriate, in a way; it replicates the disconnect between Bill's brain and his tongue. So it's annoying, but in a functional way.

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  8. That Samuel L. Jackson thing cracked me up. I sat there and stared at him for a good thirty seconds. It's appropriate that that gif comes from a movie (and a damn good one) that's all about sweaty, nasty sexual urges.

    On the one hand, it's kinda impossible to defend the pre-teen sewer gangbang. It's similarly impossible to talk about without seeming a bit like a deviated prevert, and that makes the whole thing a bit of a lost cause.

    But within the context of the novel itself, it really doesn't bother me all that much. It probably should, but it doesn't. Maybe I've been reading too much Alan Moore or something, I dunno. And not even "Lost Girls"!

    The scene seems somewhat essential to the novel, though, and while icky as an idea, King handles it about as tastefully as possible. If I were him, I'd seriously regret not having found another way out of that particular jam.

    A movie version could theoretically involve nothing kinkier than Beverly kissing all the guys. Play the entire movie with that scene in mind, with little hints that all of them are a little bit (and some of them a LOT bit) in love with her, and the scene could have some real weight to it. And then, when fans of the movie read the novel, they could be horrified by what "really" happened!

    Fun!

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    1. I enjoy that idea. That would be quite a shock for unsuspecting first-time readers.

      I agree. My take on it is somewhere between King's, Strange Horizons's, and Sam Jackson's. I can see it as a mythological allegory. But I can't help thinking there had to be another way. I truly am surprised he's not been called out on this more, over the years. Not that I want to see that happen or anything (nor am I worried of SK's ability to defend anything he's written); it just seems odd in the sensitive age we live in to see the world's bestselling novelist tuck this preteen sewer gangbang in the back forty acres of one of his most well-known novels. Like finding a naughty picture on the back of the ten dollar bill, or something.

      That's Moore's favorite part, I'd be willing to bet. He's written a few of those, himself, now that I think about it... hell, the sexual politics and mechanics of Swamp Thing alone (predating It - at least publication-wise; man, what was going on back there in the 80s!) are equally as weird / icky as this. Yet... they work.

      I don't know. In the hands of lesser storytellers, who knows. But the force is strong with Moore and King; I feel like I genuinely am the victim of many jedi mind-tricks while reading their work.

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    2. Agreed. It was a terrible (if mythically valid) idea, admirably executed. You're right, though; it does seem a little incredible that it hasn't sparked more outrage over the years. Or hell, ANY outrage.

      My guess: the type of people who would willingly read that far into a book like "It" are SO in tune with what King is doing as a storyteller that they simply roll with it, and never kick up much of a fuss. Which means that it simply hasn't come to the attention of the sort of people who would be outraged by it.

      Plus ... it's not like it's a bunch of 30-year-olds screwing a pre-teen girl. That would have been eight or nine bridges too far; this is just run-of-the-mill distasteful, at worst.

      But yes, it seems as if King could -- and probably should -- have found another way round it. I blame the drugs.

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