Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review - 'It' by Stephen King (1986)

Just in time for the new movie, how about we take a look back at the 30-year-old, thousand page-plus tome that inspired it? 

By: Jimbo X

I don't know how it happened, but revisiting a huge-assed literary horror classic of yore has become a de facto Halloween rite here at The Internet Is In America, and since there's that newfangled It movie coming out in theaters, I reckon it was a most opportune time to give you folks my thoughts on - what else? - the original 1986 Stephen King novel. 

People use the term "cinder block" to describe lengthy books all the time, but fuck it, this thing really is a cinder block. The paperback version is roughly the same width as a tissue box and about as heavy as an honest to goodness brick. The one I checked out was more than 1,200 pages long, and since it was used it also smelled like someone pissed on it and then blew menthol cigarette smoke all over it to ward off evil spirits. So yeah, it's not exactly what you would call a quick read - in fact, it'll probably take you a couple of months to churn through everything, even if you do skim most of the motherfucker. 

So, in the proud tradition of Cliffs Notes, here's the official Jimbo X abridged readers guide to Stephen King's It ... please, do enjoy. 

Alright, so it's 1957 in Derry, Maine. It's raining like a motherfucker and it reminds the narrator of the floods from 20 years ago, and this one dude who got swept 25 miles downstream and got his penis eaten off by fish. So Stuttering Bill and Georgie are making a paper boat and arguing about which one of them has the "brownest a-hole." Georgie takes the boat outside, it goes into the sewers and enter Bob Gray, a.k.a. Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who makes Georgie smell all sorts of circus scents (peanuts, cotton candy, animal turds, etc.) in the storm drain. Then the clown rips the kid's arm off and he dies. 

Flash forward to 1984. These three kids confess to killing a gay dude because he won a paper hat at the fair. The youngest kid says there was a clown in the canal at the time of the homicide, and wouldn't you know it, the cop is the brother of the boy who found Georgie's body a quarter century ago. There's some exposition about a gay bar in town and graffiti reading "stick nails in eyes of all fagots (for god)" and the surviving victim says he also saw a clown in the canal, with thousands of balloons in his hand. His boyfriend was apparently stabbed in the lung and testicles and a big chunk was taken out of his armpit. The detective coaches the witness to NOT bring up the clown during the trial and one of the kids gets sent to Shawshank (yep, that one) on manslaughter charges, even though all three kids wind up walking free on appeal. 

Cut to Atlanta, where we join this really rich Jewish couple doing Jewish things, like kvetching about country club policies and watching Family Feud. The husband gets a mysterious phone call and slits his wrist in the bath tub, writing the word IT on the tiles in his own blood. 

Then we meet Rich Tozier, this DJ in L.A. deemed "the man of a thousand voices." He reflects on getting chased by the local bully, Henry Bowers, when he was a kid. He tells his producer he has to stay in Derry because he made a promise to his friends when he was ten to come back if ... well, something happened. He returns to his childhood home. He takes out some hidden money, thinks about Georgie being killed and pukes in a toilet. 

Next we're introduced to Ben Hanscomb. He's a world famous architect, and he's really distraught over something in a bar in Omaha. He drops some lemon juice in his nostrils to do some huge shots of wild turkey. He tells the bartender he used to be fat as a kid and shows him an "H"-shaped scar carved in his chest by Bowers and his gang and then he drives off drunk into the night.

Now we meet Eddie Kaspbrak. He lives in Long Island and he's packing a ton of prescription drugs in his overnight bag and needs a shot from his asthma inhaler. His wife is fat and overbearing, just like his mama. He reflects on this one time his mom yelled at the gym coach in elementary school and embarrassed the shit out of him. His wife (who easily outweighs him by 100 pounds) wants him to stay and tries to coax him with food but he tells her she has to drive Al Pacino (yes, that Al Pacino - he owns some kind of limo service) and he thinks about all the times his mom complained about the Jew York Times and warned him about taking foot X-rays in the shoe store.  

Beverly Marsh is our next character. She's a fashion designer living in Chicago with an alcoholic White Sox fan named Tom Rogan who beats the shit out of her for smoking too much and describes her vagina as "an exquisite oil," and seeing her pummled face with makeup running down it makes him hard. She gets a call from Mike Hanlan (we'll get to him in just a bit) about it returning. She immediately packs her bags and gets into a belt-and-mirror-shard-fight with her husband. She escapes penniless and makes her way toward Derry.

And here's Bill Denbrough, the brother of the kid who got his arm ripped off at the beginning of the novel. He's now a rich as fuck horror writer living in the U.K. with a chain-smoking actress. He talks about his college professor failing him and then sending a story off to get published in some pulp mag. Basically, he wrote a book about his dead brother's fear of a monster in the basement, but he isn't canonically cognizant of such. Hanlan rings him up and he tells his wife about Derry and his dead brother and uh-oh, he starts stuttering again.

Now we catch up with Mike Hanlan, the local librarian in Derry, who is writing an unauthorized town history book subtitled A Look Through Hell's Backdoor (also, he's black - trust me, this will be very, very important a little later on in the book.) After rambling about a turtle for a couple of pages, he lays out his thesis that every 27 years, some majorly bad shit happens in town, and after finding out about the clown sighting in the gay murder case in tandem with a couple of child murders happening over the last few years, he thinks ... well, something is up. "Derry always had shitty luck," the book-within-a-book tells us. Entire settlements of villagers disappeared, this one time a guy ate mushrooms and killed his entire family, Chris Benoit-style, another time another dude went nuts and started nailing dudes' dicks to cabin walls, etc. Oh, and then there was that one Easter egg hunt explosion where 82 children got blown to kingdom come, and they were still finding kindergartner guts in the maple trees three weeks later. The murder rate is six times the New England average, Hanlan says, and how peculiar it is that missing children cases have spiked all of a sudden ... 

We return to Ben, who's on a midnight flight from Omaha to Maine. He falls asleep and has a dream about being in the fifth grade back in 1958. It's the last day of school and he's in love with Beverly, but he's fat and has to wear baggy sweaters because all the other kids make fun of his he-titties. He recounts this one time he stole beer and soda from some kids playing baseball, cashed it in and used to buy candy and then goes on a spiel about how that fat dude from Highway Patrol was his role model. Then he reflects on hiding in the library to avoid getting beat up by Bowers' gang, then he starts thinking about all those child murders leading to a citywide curfew. He recounts a dream about seeing a clown in a vacant field and writing a love haiku to Beverly, but en route to deliver it the bullies caught him and tried to carve their names into his stomach. He escapes and sends Bowers flying down an embankment, kicking him in the balls for good measure. He hides in a sandy pit while the bullies continue pursuit. Then he starts thinking about a mummy-clown chasing him in the winter. He wakes up and sees Bill and another kid almost having a nearly fatal asthma attack while receiving yet another beating from the Bowers' crew. 

Then we flip on over to Bill on a Concord, sitting next to a fat guy who keeps elbowing him. He thinks about his old bike and ridding to the store to get his pal Eddie's inhaler medicine while Ben stayed with him (see, it's carrying over from Ben's dream - try to pay close attention, will 'ya?) So Bill gets the medicine (later, we learn it's just water) and he makes Eddie and Ben laugh by doing an impersonation of Bowers without stuttering once. He also advises Eddie to buy chocolate milk and spill it on himself so his near-sided mom won't know he got beat up. Bill goes him and he flips through an old photo book of Georgie. One of the pics winks back at him and blood starts pouring out of it. Then the narrator tells us about this guy named Richard Macklin being charged with beating his stepson to death with a hammer and how his older brother went missing and his body was never recovered. Anyway, Macklin eventually committed suicide. Then there's this passage about this other missing kid named Eddie (but not that Eddie) who was attacked by his dead brother's zombie ... who then turned into the fuckin' Creature from the Black Lagoon and killed him.

Back to Hanlan. He says he fond the bloody pocket knife of the kid who got killed by the Creature by the canal. He reflects on this one time his dad made him sit in a "torture chair" meant to punish vagrants, and this one time a giant bird attacked him in the abandoned iron works. 

Now we through it to the still living Eddie. He's driving through Boston to Derry, thinking about Ben's silver dollars. He has a flashback to the gang completing a dam back in the day and Bill freaking everybody out with his tales of the bloody picture book. Then he talks about his mom's rank lobster salad farts and this one time a syphilitic hobo chased him and tried to suck his dick for a dime. Then Ben and Eddie recount different instances of getting chased by mummy-clown-lepers, and then an Irish cop makes them take down the dam and then they all take bets on whether or not Neil Sedaka is a negro. The kids go into Georgie's room and find the photo book. Some pictures taken in the 1920s come alive and Richie has his hand slashed by something when he tries to touch a moving picture. Bev, Rich and Ben then go see I Was a Teenage Werewolf and get into a fight with Bowers' gang. Ben hits Henry with a trash can shot like Haystacks Calhoun while Rich talks to Ben using a stereotypical slave's voice. Bill and Rich then travle to an abandoned house and crawl under the porch with a slingshot and a real pistol and find this one room filled with coal. Then the kids are attacked by a shadowy monster in a Derry High letterman's jacket, which turns into the werewolf from the movie they watched earlier. Bill blows its skull off with the pistol then Richie scares it by doing an impersonation of the Irish cop and throwing sneezing powder at it ... which, for whatever reason, fucks the wolf up more than the bullet wound. Then it turns into the clown, chases them on their bikes and the boy narrowly escape certain death.

Now we turn to Bev, sitting in a plane reflecting on getting money from one of her feminist writer friends. She thinks about going to Derry and recounts her love for Bill (who she thinks wrote her the haiku Ben sent here), then she remembers being a girl and hearing voices in the bathtub drain, which periodically erupted in blood geysers only she could see. She reminisces on this one time she and her friends bought frappes and shot pennies by the drug store and this one time a dude with a lisp called her mom a whore. All the other kids help her clean up the invisible blood in the bathroom, then Stan goes into an empty house and sees dead teens everywhere and he has to read the names of a bunch of birds to open a stuck door (yeah, don't try to make sense of any of this shit just quite yet.) Bev runs a tape measure down the bathtub drain, and when she pulls it out, yep, it's all bloody and staff.

Time for Mike's second dispatch. The date is Feb. 14 1985 (hey, Valentine's Day, what are the odds.) He talks about his dad experiencing racism in the Air Force and seeing a giant bird with balloons tied to its wings the night of a night club fire in the 1930s. Then he wakes up, sees balloons with his face on it and gets royally freaked the fuck out. 

Now we arrive at the reunion proper. The gang (they called themselves "The Losers") meet at a restaurant called Jade of the Orient to catch up. Ben talks about his coach grabbing his he-boobies as a catalyst for his weight loss and Mike says he learned about Stan's suicide because he subscribes to the newspapers in all of his friends' current cities of residence. Then Mike starts talking about nine recent child murders in town and Bill begins stuttering again. He says a hermit who drinks paint thinner was picked up by the cops as a suspect, but everybody at the table agrees that IT has returned. Mike says IT also made them successful, except for him, because he never moved. They talk about infertility and sperm donation and Rich does a Mr. T impersonation. Then their fortune cookies arrive and they all have icky stuff inside 'em, like blood, crickets and eyeballs. 

Then Ben goes back to the library and the clown calls him a fat little fuck and does a minstrel show impersonation, complete with copious use of the n-word. Then he turns into Dracula with literal razor blade teeth and shakes invisible blood all over the place. Next, Eddie walks around a baseball field and reminisces on the good old days, then the zombie of a kid killed in 1958 shows up wearing a moldy Yankees uniform. Then other zombie classmates rise out of the diamond and chase him (including that one leper from when he was kid.) He runs for a bit and passes out in town. Meanwhile, Bev visits her old apartment and an old lady showing her around turns into the witch from Hansel and Gretel, eats some cookies, drinks out of a cup with JFK's face on it and it fuckin' winks at her. Then her dad's spirit emerges and yammers on and on about how badly he wants to rape her. Then he turns into clown, shucks and jives and Bev narrowly escapes from his clutches. Elsewhere, Rich reflects on a giant Paul Bunyan statue and being chased through a toy store when he was a kid. He has hallucinations about the statue coming alive and trying to kill him, then he wakes up, walks around Derry, talks about Iron Maiden and The Crawling Eye, sees the marquee at a theater for the "All-Dead Rock Band" and the statue turns into Pennywise. He threatens to give Rich prostate cancer, and Rich scares him off by using - and this is a direct quote from the novel - "a jiveass nigger voice" and calling the clown "a white face bunghole." Then Bill talks to a Boy Scout eating popsicles in the sewer, finds an old bike in a second hand store, grills a few burgers and repairs his new ride (which he names Silver after his old childhood bicycle.)

So Henry Bowers is in the loony bin for killing his dad in 1958. He's also suspected of killing EVERYBODY back in 1958. The moon turns into Pennywise and tells him to go to Derry and kill all the surviving kids. He then gets whacked over the head by a guard with a roll of quarters and passes out. Then the ghost of his dead friend (who was killed by Frankenstein - more on that later) shows up at night and the ghost of an inmate's mother (who was cannibalized a couple of decades earlier) attacks him, then the clown shows up with a Doberman head and attacks a guard, facilitating his escape. Meanwhile, Tom Rogan finds Bev's feminist writer friend, calls her a "bra-burning bitch" and beats the shit out of her until she tells him where his runaway wife is. He hops aboard the first flight to Derry, buys a car out of the want ads, switches plates and gets a hotel beside Bill's wife, who is all worried about a union actress not doing a stunt for a film adaptation of one of her husband's movies.

So yeah ... this pretty much explains everything.

And that's our cue for another Hanlan dispatch. He talks to an old guy who was around when bank robbers came to Derry and pretty much the entire town came out to shoot the shit out of them ... including some guy in a clown suit who didn't cast a shadow, for some reason.

Time for another flashback to 1958. The Bowers family blames the Hanlan family for ruining their chicken business, so Henry feeds their pooch poisoned beef, calls him "a nigger dog," ties him up and watches him die. He goes back home and tells Daddy Bowers what he did and he gives him a beer for his efforts. Then Bill's dad tells him the sewer system blueprints in Derry were stolen so nobody really knows how to get out of there. The kids do some research and determine the clown is probably a manitou (or possibly a glamour, a tallus, an eylak or maybe even a loup garou.) Bill talks about the Himalayan "ritual of child," where a holy man tries to bite off a demon's tongue. We learn Bowers' dad got all fucked up in the war (presumably, World War II) and sleeps with a sword he said he took from a Jap but he really bought it in Hawaii. Then the Losers club goes to the dump to set off some fireworks and they run into a deaf guy who runs them off into the woods. Then the Bowers gang, armed with firecrackers, attack Mike. Bowers tells him he killed his dog so Mike calls him "a honky chickenshit bastard." Then he finds some coal and starts bombarding the gang until they retreat. Eventually, Mike makes it to a gravel pit where the Losers are hanging out and the ultimately hold off Bowers and company with an allied rock/firecracker strike.

Now we're back in 1985. Mike goes to get a beer out of a cooler and finds an 11-year-old Stanley's head waitin' for him in the deep freeze. It turns into the clown's head and balloons reading "Derry niggers get the bird" start pouring out of it. 

And that's a signal for a flashback to '58. Mike recounts his testicles getting goose pimples when he saw the clown at a parade and then he tells the other kids about seeing a giant bird that looked like something out of The Giant Claw. The kids break out the photo album again. They see a photo of a juggler they assume to be Pennywise in human form. Of course, the pictures start moving, and what do you know, there's the clown from a couple of photographs from the 1800s. He jumps out of the pics and changes form several times - a werewolf, a mummy, etc. - to scare the living shit out of the chilluns.

Alright, back to 1985 again. Richie says he is so giddy right now, it's like being on coke (and trust me - that's something Steve King knows plenty about.) Then he has a flashback to the "smoke hole" and starts crying about his eyes being on fire, and you guessed it, it's time to go back to 1958 once more. Bill tells the rest of the kids about this Indian smoke hole ceremony to drive out evil spirits or some shit like that and they all think it's just a dandy idea. So they start a bonfire under their clubhouse and the kids try to see who can stomach the most the smoke the longest. Whoever toughs it out the longest is supposed to have some kinda' prophetic vision. It comes down to Mike and Rich. They pass out and wake up in some kind of wasteland, where they see a spaceship that turns into IT. Bev revives both of them. Mike and Rich try to explain what they saw as some kind of immortal force that lived underground, but they just can't put into proper words.

And since everybody else in the damn story is having flashbacks, Eddie figures he might as well have one, too after he sees a bunch of balloons telling him asthma medicine causes lung cancer. He reflects on this one time the local druggist said his inhaler medication was just a placebo and he got attacked by Eddie. I mean, real fucked up - rocks were ground into his face, his arm got broken and he wound up in the hospital. There, he had visions of IT and his friends come and visit him after hours to tell them how good they're getting at slingshot practice

It's still 1958, if you're wondering. Bev is sneaking her way through a junkyard when she finds the Bowers gang lighting their own farts. Then Patrick Hockstetter tries to jerk off Henry, so he punches him and runs off so Pat can start beating off in front of a broken fridge. Well, needless to say, this Pat kid is a real crazy sumbitch, who thinks he is literally the only real thing in the universe. Oh, and his favorite afterschool activities include smothering his brother with a pillow and stealing pets and trapping them in old kitchen appliances until they die and masturbating to their pain. He opens the junky old refrigerator and he's attacked by flying leeches shaped like pom-poms that suck the blood out of his eyeballs. They drink so much of his plasma the narrator says they "explode like water balloons" (the explanation for all this, and really, 85 percent of the book: King's aforementioned coke addiction). Eventually, one of the leeches tries to latch on to Bev, but she wards it off with her slingshot. She later brings the rest of the Loser Club to the dump, where Pennywise has written a warning in blood. Bill freaks out and calls IT "a whore-maker" and the kids decide to share a group hug during the middle of a sudden hailstorm. 

Then the kids makes some silver bullets and crawl underneath the spooky ass Niebolt house again (it's where Rich used the sneezing powder and Irish cop accent on the werewolf earlier.) Ben sees a girlie mag and the woman on the cover winks at him and then little green elves attack everybody (remember - King's cocaine addiction is the answer to all of your questions) and IT turns into a werewolf again and Bev kills it with her slingshot. Then the kids wonder aloud where their supernatural powers are coming from, which is our cue to revisit the future of 1985.

Oh, the 1980s. Back when you could end your novel with an elementary schooler gangbang and nobody batted an eyelash.

Mike is drunk and writing about the Silver Dollar Lodge ax massacre of 1905. Yep, Pennywise was there, too. Mike conjectures IT eats kids because their childhood faith fuels him or some such mess. Then Rich cuts his hand on a brown beer bottle (why King stresses the bottle's color so much, I've no clue) and starts freaking out, and then Bev thinks about that one time her daddy chased her down the street for asking one too many questions about Pennywise, until to run straight into the clutches of the Bowers gang.

Flash forward to 1985. Mike gets attacked in the library by a switchblade-wielding Henry. He stabs Henry with a letter opener and tries to call the police, but Pennywise answers the phone and calls him "a nigger" and "a coon." 

Back to Bev as a child. She momentarily escapes from Bowers by kicking him in the balls.

Now back to Bev as an adult. She and Bill go to a town house and have S-E-X. You know, with their penises and vaginas and whatnot. 

Now we flashback to Ben hiding from the Bowers gang.

Now we flash-forward to Henry walking through an old seminary building, congratulating himself for (thinking) he greased Mike. 

FLASHBACK AGAIN to Henry reflecting on "Bob Gray" mailing him a switchblade, and the moon commanding him to stab his daddy in the neck with it.

FLASH-FORWARD AGAIN to Henry getting a ride from one of his dead childhood friends (his name is Belch, if you need it for bonus trivia/autism points) riding in a pimped out Plymouth Fury. He gives him Henry a sheet of paper with everybody's room number on it. Henry says he's sorry he ran off when Frankenstein killed him (I promise you, we're getting to that.) Then Belch, in the clown's voice, tells him to get 'em and disappears. Henry goes to Eddie's room, knocks on the door and prepares to stab him in the throat, but before we find out what happens ...

...we flashback once more. The kids talk about the diet discrepancies between Jews and Catholics and a story about a kid who supposedly shit Jesus blood in the Sunday School commode (gee, you think this Stephen King guy has some scatological issues he needs to work through?) and then we flash forward...

...Henry attacks Eddie, but Eddie dodges the blade and stabs Henry with a broken Perrier bottle in the stomach. Which means we have to - you guessed it - flashback again... when the kids went to the barrens and had rocks thrown at them by the Bowers gang. The Losers run to the pumping station and individually go down the sewer pipes to evade their tormentors. Which is our cue to flash forward to...

...Tom having nightmares about killing his father and going into the sewers with the Bowers gang. He wakes up, sees a mysterious balloon and hears Pennywise's disembodied voice tell him - well, something. Then Audra - who is just a few doors down from Tom at the Derry DoubleTree - has a dream about being - has a dream about being 12-year-old Bev and starts hearing "we all float down here" coming out of the bathroom tub, then Pennywise shows up on the TV screen and starts splashing blood everywhere. She runs out of the hotel and - LOLOOPS - right into Tom Rogan.

Eddie calls up Bill and Bev and asks them what to do with Henry's body and the agree to not call the cops. Instead, they call the library and a cop answers and tells them Mike is seriously injured but still alive. They and Richie hop in Eddie's limo and Pennywise comes on the radio and starts playing a ghastly message from Georgie. They go to the barrens and find Audra's purse and decide to enter the sewers to find her.

Next, there's a passage that comes about as close as anything to describing what IT is and its motivations. Apparently it's been around since the beginning of all-time, alongside this "stupid turtle" that went into its shell years ago (yeah, I know that's abstract as fuck, but hold it in the back of your head - it's an important plot point to remember heading into the climax.) IT says humans are the best food because they have dreams and fears and stuff. But IT is also pissed the kids almost killed it and that was the first time IT ever felt pain and made IT think for the first time that maybe it wasn't alone in the universe. So now, naturally, IT wants revenge

Up next, the book does that thing where it keeps alternating between time lines, so for the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to put the year beside the passage so you'll have a (slightly) easier time zigging and zagging your way through everything:

1958 - The kids go into the sewer and find Patrick Hockstetter's mutilated body. 

1985 - IT talks about the children's fears being the purest and the perils of shape-shifting. Then IT says it's going to send a nurse with a drug problem to kill MIKE in the E.R. The gang finds two of Bowers' friends' skeletons and Audra's wedding ring.

1958 - The kids are still exploring the sewers and get attacked by the monster from The Crawling Eye. Eddie, with a broken arm, fights off the monster by telling IT that his asthma inhaler is "battery acid, fuck-nuts!"Then the kids fight off a giant bird and come to a door with strange marking on it, surrounded by the bones of children. Each child interprets the mark as some other subconscious fear. Then they enter the lair of IT.

1985 - The Derry church bells, which usually ring at 5 a.m., don't chime. Heavy rains start coming down. A man gets electrocuted and a sewer back-up leads to women getting killed in exploding toilets, as a nurse with a needle full of something approaches Mike at the hospital. Bill encounters the evil ghost of Georgie and the other convince him to fight it off. Mike knocks the nurse out with a glass, and the rest of the kids (err, adults) see IT in its final form - a 15-foot tall spider pregnant with something so terrible, it made Stan kill himself on sight

1958 - Bill runs into a giant, trans-dimensional turtle described as having "galaxies" for toenails. He explains that his great cosmological purpose is to watch the universe while the great cosmological purpose of IT is to eat the universe, and that there is some other force in the "macro verse" he calls "dead lights" that created both of them. Then Bill tells the kids how to defeat IT with their mind, and they telepathically bring its web crashing down. Still, they wonder if IT is truly dead as they begin scurrying out of the sewer. 

1985 - IT grabs Bill. Rich sees Audra and Tom caught in its web. He starts using his voices to fuck with IT and he enters some sort of transdimensional arena. Eddie screams "shut up, ma!" and shoves his aspirator down IT's through and IT bites his fucking arm off and he dies. Meanwhile, Derry gets rocked by a hurricane as a drunk janitor sees blood and hair coming out of bar taps, an old Irish cop has a stroke and dies, the local shopping mall explodes and a doctor gets decapitated by a sewer lid. 

1958 - The kids can't find their way out of the sewer. All of a sudden, Bev takes her pants off asks which of the boys wants to take a crack at he first. Yeah, you read that right. 

1985 - Ben starts stomping on IT's spider eggs and Bev reflects on being abused by her daddy...

1958 - ...long story short, King spends the next five pages describing Bev getting gangbanged by the rest of the group, all while she thinks about birds and flying and shit. Also, Ben may have shot his sherbet during the ordeal, and they fact nobody thought this shit was utterly depraved and tried to get it banned from book stores - hell, the publishing company didn't even try to get King to excise the scene, for crying aloud - is all the proof you need that the eighties were indeed degenerate as all fuck. In case you were wondering, King has gone on record saying he "wasn't really thinking of the sexual aspect of it" when he penned the scene, adding that "times have changed since I wrote that scene and there is now more sensitivity to the issue." Yeah, whatever you say, President of NAMBLA, Maine Chapter

1985 - There's a flood sweeping through Derry as the kids kill IT by literally crawling through its stomach and punching its heart out. Meanwhile, the entire city collapses into a sinkhole. The Paul Bunyan statue collapses, the police chief is killed in a freak accident, etc. A photographer for the local newspaper takes a picture of the Losers as they emerge from the sinkhole and the caption simply reads "SURVIVORS" because I think that's ironic or something. 

In the postscript, Ben and Bev move in together in Omaha, Richie resumes his DJ career in L.A. and Mike is still having nightmares about IT not being over and journaling about it (alas, we never hear anything about Eddie's grieving family - kind of a big oversight there, ain't it, Mr. King?)Audra is catatonic, so Bill moves into what's left of Derry after the floods. He rides through town on his bike one more time and Audra wakes up with no memory of what happened. Then he says he might write about all this shit one day, and this book is finally over., uh, can somebody check on Big Steve to see if he hasn't become full blown retarded by now?

And there you have it, kids - all 1,200 pages of It condensed into about 5,000 words. All in all, it's a pretty enjoyable read and one of the more accessible King cinder blocks out there, and since there's no way any movie or TV mini-series can fit in all those minute details about children being gruesomely murdered by Universal Monsters characters and running trains on each other next to some subterranean dookie pipes, it's certainly a more unnerving undertaking, as well.

We'll see if the new movie is closer in spirit to the book than the 1990 mini-series - which, considering the MPAA's more relaxed regulations, would seem to suggest that it will be, even if it does swap out the 1950s setting for the Stranger Things-esque 1980s backdrop. It's a pretty safe bet we'll NEVER see a few things from the book in live action form, though, so reading the original novel is pretty much the only way you'll ever experience the undiluted affect of King's cocaine-fueled neurosis. 

Is It worth a read this Halloween season? Eh, as long as you're able to polish off 50 pages a night and don't mind lengthy passages describing discontinued candy and old episodes of Highway Patrol in absurd detail, it's not a bad way to churn through those sleepless autumn evenings. Maybe it ain't as good as American Psycho, but it's probably a bit more enjoyable than Hannibal - and it's sure as hell a better read than anything those overrated hacks Anne Rice and Clive Barker have ever shat out, so really, what do you got to lose here - well, besides about 10 to 20 hours of your free time and by proxy, your life - anyway?


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