As mentioned in a previous post (here), because of the upcoming film adaptation of Stephen King‘s IT, I had the “itch” to get back into reading more. Specifically, I wanted to dive into the IT, as well as a few other King books. I have been a fan of King’s since I was a kid, not because of his books but, rather, because of his films! I know, I know – most of the novel adaptations do not live up to their literary predecessors but, I was a kid, and anyone deemed the master of horror gets a thumbs up from me all (most) of the time! Besides, can we say that all the adaptations were subpar? What with: Salem’s Lot, The Langoliers, Pet Sematary, Carrie, Christine, Firestarter, The Mist, Silver Bullet, Thinner, The Stand and The Shining (although Kubrick certainly took liberties)? I guess the answer to this question can be an astounding, Yes! With the exception of Joyland, On Writing, and Nightshift, which featured probably my favorite Stephen king shorts, “The Boogyman“, (none of which had feature film adaptations) I can’t really say much to the film/TV adaptations compared to the novel/novella. These are the only King books that I’ve actually read despite the paperback versions of Blaze, Joyland, The Colorado Kid, Salem’s Lot, Night Shift, Different Seasons and Pet Sematary sitting on my shelf (or in a box) for years! All that is about to change.
The task, getting through IT, was more than an accomplishment and, by God, I did it (pats self on the back)! The answer to the unasked, but inevitable question that one may get is, was it worth it? Absolutely! I’m not even going to give a review of this one as there is a lot to digest… A LOT! And, I will say that, while it was a pleasant read, it was not an easy one. Again, over 1100 pages! Add to that, a plethora of well-written characters as well as different timelines. To say too much about the story is teetering into “spoiler” territory so I will not even entertain it.
The 90’s TV adaptation does not even really come close to touching the intricacies of this novel as there is so much depth to the characters as well as to the story of IT. Sure, there are some rather memorable scenes depicted on film that sort of does justice in its depiction on-screen, ie, Georgie running after the S.S. Georgie on that fateful morning/evening that pits him face to face with Pennywise. But, even ABC’s adaptation is a watered-down version, understandably so. As is Henry Bowers’ character whose on-screen depiction makes him more of your run-of-the-mill bully compared to the epitome of evil as written in the novel. On film, he was more of a nuisance. In the book, he was truly a force to be feared and that emotion came across, without a doubt.
I attempted to rewatch the two part miniseries and I simply could not finish it. Having read the novel, I had a deeper understanding and appreciation for this body of work and while the TV adaptation was not horrible, it was really not that good aside from a good performance by Tim Curry and a couple of scenes imbedded in my cerebellum that, come to think of it, played more on my nostalgia of the time when it was released.
IT is so much more than what popular culture has lead us to believe. IT has become synonymous with both Tim Curry and the personification of the terrifying clown. While it is true that IT‘s preferred form is Pennywise the clown, it is only one of many forms taken by IT. A concept that I did not fully grasp having watched the mini-series in 1990 at nine years old.
I knew nothing of the novel at the time and remembered being sorely disappointed in the conclusion of the mini-series. I had lost all interest in IT. It took me 27 years to revisit the story, what with the hype of the upcoming film in September of 2017, so that I may get a better grasp as to what it is really all about. And, frankly, I am still trying to digest all of it a few days after finishing it. To say that the book had a profound effect on me would be an understatement. I had the same feeling after I finished reading King’s On Writing which resonates with me to this day. It is with King’s words, emotions and experiences as told in On Writing that I hold dear and close as if the author were speaking to me. To an extent, I can say the same with IT. Bill, Bev, Ben, Eddie, Rich and Mike all left an impact with me as I felt that these are characters that I could relate too one way or another. They were the kind of kids I would have hung out with and be a part of when I was a kid – “The Loser’s Club“. They were my friends!
Despite not being too familiar in the works of Mr. King, only having read a few of his books and stories, what I have read has had a profound impact on me and that is a true sign of a great writer (not that it changed my life or anything). Sure there were things that I could have done without in IT, in particular, an “intimate” scene that occurred in the sewers (if you read the book then you know what I’m talking about) and a more than a few pages served as fluff, in my opinion, and maybe even could have been trimmed down some, omitting a few pages here and there.
Still, IT was, indeed, for lack of a better word, a “masterpiece” and one that, I’m sure, will resonate with me for quite some time as I will continue to peruse the internet to read different perspectives and take-aways that I may have missed on my first reading of the novel. But, alas, on to his other works…