Monday, July 21, 2014

A book with a split personality

I first read It on October 27th, 2000 - I had checked it out of my high school library the Friday before Halloween thinking that I'd have a good creepy story to read before trick-or-treating. Things didn't exactly work out the way that I'd planned because I got the book home from school at about 3pm and proceeded to read in a sweaty panic until 10 the next morning. My book didn't last me quite 'till Halloween but it did give me the scare that I was looking for.

I've read the book a few times now - my first copy got destroyed in a flood, which is a little creepy considering the content of the book - and I usually like it. Sometimes It pisses me off but usually I feel pretty good about the story and the characters and the pacing.

This time I was a little confused by the construction. Since I've read the book eight or ten times, and since it's got a non-chronological structure I knew which bits of the story were coming but I couldn't quite tell when and so I ended up spending at least the first six hundred pages waiting for the book to get started and the last four hundred pages not really being ready for it to end.

Most of the story takes place in 1958 with only little bits happening in 1985 but both times are a detriment to each other (or felt like it on this read-through). The 1958 story is pure and bright and sweet and horrifying and it gets muddied by the more realistic monsters of suicide and abusive husbands who haunt the characters in their middle age. Each character has a story that I'd be interested in reading on its own and so sometimes it's a bit frustrating to have to ignore that character for two hundred pages while you're paying attention to someone else.

It was written during King's Drugs and Alcohol period and the book reflects, in some ways, the mind of its author. It's a little jumbled at times, really messy occasionally, frequently unspeakably dark, but puts on a good face for people stopping by to visit. It's only the people who have dug too deep that really seem to see the problems.

Maybe King isn't the kind of author you're supposed to read and re-read and re-re-read time and again but I can't help it. I don't dig through theses stories looking for mistakes (though sometimes they're there) - I read through these stories because I love them and I want to live them again and shiver in the dark with all of my friends.

I didn't have a great read-through of It this time, I felt like these people who worked so hard got shafted in the end. But next time I read It I'll probably feel different - I'll probably think that forgetting is a gift and memory is suicide and every hero is happiest if he doesn't have to focus on his heroism.

But I do know there will be a next time. There always is. Because I'm one of those, the ones who obsess and dig and always scamper back to the light showing the pretty things they found in the dark. So thank you, Stephen King,
     - A Constant Reader

King, Stephen. It. Signet. New York: New York. 1980.

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