After her usual hullabaloo tonight (howling that she was too tired and wanted to sleep, before we’d even bathed her), La Serpiente went to sleep in less than five minutes, and I retired to my bed to read the last quarter of It. That was two and a half hours of my life spent working through Stephen King’s mammoth frightfest, which craps out a bit at the end with a shortage of evil clowns, a giant spider that’s out of Lovecraft, and a very suspect chapter where lots of prepubescent children have sex to stop bad things happening. Yup, nothing problematic about that at all…

As I read, I was reminded of Madame Bovary, and the way both Flaubert and King write like machines: for Flaubert, the endless descriptions of different rustics wearing this, and that, and that, and that. For King, there are long sections that sweep into self-parody where a bad thing happens and then a bad thing happens and then a bad thing happens. It’s all very compulsive and the plot judders along but at the end I’m not sure if I’ve learned anything, apart from worrying King wrote it just to see how many times he could get the n-word into one book.

The TV adaptation was much more frightening, although that’s probably because it concentrated on a terrifying clown (and a rubbish special effects giant spider at the end) and because I watched it twenty five years ago. Yeah, because things were much scarier then. Kids these days, etc etc.

Funnily enough, now I’ve read It I see how much it’s influenced other writers: amongst them my favourite Kim Newman novel, The Quorum, which again has a tight group of school friends, but also has the decency to be less than half the length of It, and mostly set in London and Somerset, rather than a crappy small town in Maine. I suppose the complicit ignorance or apathy of the town is echoed a few years later in Watchmen when they talk about people ignoring the sounds of the murder of Kitty Genovese (even if in real life that wasn’t true). Plus King smuggles the word rugose into the story a fee times, and (I think) has a laugh by naming guards at a mental asylum after fellow horror writers.

But it needs more evil clowns, and the ending is too happy.

Afterwards, instead of running for an hour as I’d planned, I ran a kilometre and then bought a watermelon, because we forgot it was La Serpiente’s school’s Christmas party tomorrow, and she’s meant to take a snack, and watermelon is festive, right, or at least red and green. And so to bed, to dream of giant spider clowns.

2 responses to “It”

  1. Yep, I just checked and this was def posted on 16 November. Things are seriously weird where you live if your kids are having Christmas parties this week, and you’re re-reading books about mad evil clowns. I’m more of a Shaun Hutson fan, personally. If you want some F-d up literature, get a copy of Nemesis. Read that when I was 14 .. hmm, actually this might explain a lot of things …

    • Nemesis – that was the one with the killer fetus, wasn’t it?

      I preferred Slugs, to be honest. What was the sequel to Slugs? Oh yes, Breeding Ground…

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