Stephen King. Oh, Stephen King. Only you would write a novel about a clown. Actually, only you would write a 1,000+ page novel about a clown. This is the big one, folks. Stephen King’s un-Google-able book, It, took four years to write, and It remains his biggest book weighing in at a hefty four pounds. It’s his most ambitious book, one of his most popular, and, just as The Stand represented a breaking point between Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, and The Shining and the next phase of his career,
Before I get into my review on this book, I want to back up and begin by explaining that I hate clowns. I fear clowns. There is nothing that makes me happy about a clown. My fear of clowns started at a young age, when I decided to be rebellious and watch The “IT” mini series on TV when I was 6,7 or 8 ( It came out in 1990, but I was 2 at the time so I had to watch it later). I’m sure you are wondering why I would want to read a book dedicated to a clown – well I figured it was time to face my fears. I’ve had a lot of luck with Stephen King – the majority of the books I’ve read of his I’ve loved: Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand, The Mist, etc I wanted to read a book that I knew would really scare me and I figured why not a book that deals with a clown that lives in a sewer.
**SPOILER ALERT – IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK AND WISH TO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENS THEN PLEASE STOP READING. IF YOU CONTINUE TO READ AND GET ANGRY AT ME FOR SPOILING THE BOOK THEN EXPECT A CLOWN TO COME AND EAT YOU**
Upon finishing It, I always feel as if I’ve said goodbye to an old friend, one I only see every few years. I’m a bit sad, but mostly I’m happy that I got to spend what time I did with him (IT). He isn’t perfect. He can be quite odd at times, but he’s mostly fun to be around. I feel the need to defend him when people start downing on him, and to deride him when I catch him screwing up. I do not condone everything he does, but for the most part, he’s a good dude, if a little long winded. I can see why some people can’t stand to be around him, yet he reminds me what it was like to be a kid, to be free, to wield that certain magic adults seem to forget how to use. So yes, until next time, I will miss my friend.
I understand why people become upset, and even enraged, at the scene which concludes the children’s story of this book. Eleven years old is far too damn young for such activity. I agree. It’s hard for even me to read. But, and this is a mighty large “but”, I understand the necessity of Bev’s actions. To break It’s spell on them, the loser’s club had to grow up, they had to “come of age” quickly, and the scene goes down the way it does. Like I said, I don’t enjoy or condone the scene, but I understand it. Next, I’m honestly quite shocked that so many people believe that It’s final form is a spider. It’s stated over and over again that It’s final form is actually the deadlights, that cold ball of orange light cast off at the edge of oblivion. The spider is only the form in which It has been caught in. Even in It’s final chapter, It thinks about how stupid it was to trap itself in a physical form, and how that action would be its downfall. I don’t think that half the people who have reviewed this book on Amazon and Goodreads actually finished the novel. I believe most of them watched the movie and called it enough.
Gender in the novel is a problem, clearly. In interviews, King has expressed some regret over the way It demonizes women, and specifically mothers. There is Eddie’s mother, whose Munchausen by proxy keeps her son sick, afraid, and tied to her; there are absent mothers and uncaring mothers the different Losers try to emancipate themselves from; and there is, of course, the cruelest mother of them all: It herself. “OH DEAR JESUS IT IS FEMALE,” one character exclaims upon seeing It’s eggs. The novel treats this fact about It as a big reveal (fair enough, I suppose, given the ambiguous grammar of its title), and the characters seem to go insane at the very idea of It’s femaleness, the terrifying claim on the future the creature seems to stake through its motherhood
Racism is another of the everyday evils that pervades the world of It, and yet it clearly functions differently than the others. In King’s novel, the n-word is dispensed freely, and it’s often an indicator that the monster is speaking through whoever utters it. Ok, Ok before you say anything… I get the time period the book takes place in (50’) and THAT word was thrown around a lot. And people’s attitude towards certain people was hate, However, That does not make it ok. Being a person of color at some parts I was like “Ok this can end now”. In one scene, Mike Hanlon, the Losers Club’s only African American member, calls the hospital, only to have Pennywise answer the call and unleash an endless compendium of racist abuse on him, down to bits from Amos ’n’ Andy. Mike simply talks over it: “If you’re there, I can’t hear you. I’m not being allowed to hear you. If you’re there, please hurry.” Racism is white noise in Derry: you speak through it and hope you can still be heard.
Now on to the last complaint most people have with this book. It ties directly into the Dark Tower series. You have mentions of the Beam and the Wheel, and, of course, you have the Turtle. If you have not read the Dark Tower series, all of this shit will go right over your head. I feel for ya, I do. King’s a jerk (a talented jerk, mind you) for doing such. I think Stephen King firmly believes every person who reads his work will either eventually reread every novel, or read them in chronological order.
Final bit of business; conspiracy theory time. As far as I know, no one else has come across these things, so I could be on to something, or completely fucking insane. Dig on this:
Pennywise first introduces himself to Georgie as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, or, if you will, Mr. Bob Gray. The “grays” are King’s aliens. The aliens in The Tommyknockers are not called Grays, but we’re in the King verse and everything comes together eventually. The Grays are finally called as much in Dreamcatcher. In the chapter The Smokehouse in It, Ritchie and Mike see It crash land from somewhere. Not outer space, they feel, but somewhere else. In The Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher, King never tells us where the Grays came from. So here’s my theory. The Grays are the Old Ones from the Dark Tower series. King never discusses the Old Ones other than to say that they were a technologically advanced race of beings. Once again, I may be wrong, but it’s something worth considering.
In summation: It was, is, and probably always will be my favorite Stephen King novel. No matter what problems it may have, it is a terrific accomplishment, and no amount of time will change that. Bill, Ben, Bev, Mike, Ritchie, Eddie, and even you Stan, I miss you already. Beep, beep, losers. Love, M.
I’m going to leave you with one last thing……..