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Month 1: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

Welcome to the first discussion post for Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long.  I hope you’ve had time to read the first part whether it be in broad daylight or under the covers in the dark with a book light.

Today we’re (Anna and myself, plus anyone else who plans on joining) going to talk about the first part of the book, plus the first interlude.

I’ve read IT before, but at a younger age and the book scared me silly.  However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the horror genre or reading Stephen King books.  I was excited when Anna agreed to a read-a-long of the book, because honestly I don’t think she would have tackled it on her own…simply because of the clown!  I could be wrong though.  Anyway, I started reading part one and it all flooded back to me and I was right there with old acquaintances in Derry, Maine.  What is striking to me is how well King uses third-person omniscient POV.  You get to see everything these characters are, have been, and wish to have been, and the fear they have of Derry and the promise they made is powerful.

IT is described as a clown, but there is something darker and sinister about Pennywise — his yellow eyes and sharp teeth — and it seems as though he’s a metaphor for other things in the town, especially when you read about the homosexual bias and other hate that pervades the small town.  Is he just a manifestation of the dark undercurrent of the town, or is he a real demon clown bent on killing children?  Only time will tell.

For some reason, beyond Stuttering Bill (Georgie’s older brother), Eddie has always been memorable.  I think part of it has to do with his wife and how much she resembles his over-protective mother.  But at the same time, his wife, Marty, is so dependent upon him.  You feel him being pulled in two directions, between his childhood promise and his wife.

One thing I notice now that I probably didn’t notice as a kid is the similarities between Bill Denbrough and Stephen King in terms of writing horror stories.  It also made me wonder about whether King had similar thoughts to Denbrough about a teacher,  or maybe an agent or publisher, who didn’t appreciate his writing.

Book cover of the edition I read as a kid

These are my initial thoughts, what about you?  But first, here are some questions that I’d like to pose:

1.  Is this your first time reading Stephen King?  If so, what have you enjoyed about the reading so far?  How’s the writing?  If this is not your first time, what’s brought you back to reading Stephen King?

2.  What are your first impressions of the characters you’ve been introduced to so far?

3.  Pennywise the Clown lives in dark places like the sewer, do you think he’s real?  Scary?

4.  How do you feel about the use of an Interlude between the parts?  what purpose do you think it serves?

Please feel free to pose your own questions in the comments.

If you’d like to link up to the discussion, please do so in the Mr. Linky below:

In September, on Sept. 28, we’ll be discussing Part 2, plus the interlude on Diary of an Eccentric.  For the rest of the schedule, go here.

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  • Okay, I’m finally read to chat. I’ve posted the answers to your questions here:

    http://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/month-1-discussion-it-by-stephen-king/

    First off, let me say that I am so glad that the version you bought me for Christmas has a more muted cover. I wouldn’t even pick up the one you read as a kid!

    I noticed the possible similarities between Bill and Stephen King, which is probably why Bill is set up to be the main character.

    I’m really enjoying King’s writing more than I expected to. I don’t know why I thought his writing would be more James Patterson, you know, mainstream and more simplistic. It really has a literary quality to it, and that’s helping me enjoy it.

    Are you creeped out by it yet, or is it ruined by the fact that you’ve already read the book? Nothing has totally freaked me out or anything like that. Pennywise is creepy, but not giving me nightmares creepy. Still, we’re only at the beginning of the book.

    King also seems to be a master of characterization. You really do get to know so much about each of his characters. And to have such an extended cast of fairly well developed characters…wow.

    • I love his characterization here. They are such oddballs and so many issues. Nope, no Patterson simplicity here…King is more literary indeed, probably why I really got sucked into his work so early on. Description is so vivid with him as well, which really helps to set the mood and each scene. I really get absorbed! I lose track of time.

      I’m not creeped out yet because this section was really vivid for me as I reread it. It was like revisiting old friends…I remembered it so well…It was almost like when I reread Pride & Prejudice, which I seem to have memorized most of, and I knew where it was headed, but once I got into the interlude, the memory was a bit more fuzzy.

      When I was a kid, I thought that clown cover was cool!

    • I forgot. Are you reading this in the dark?

      • Heck, no! I did read upstairs one night but it wasn’t anything to do with the clown.

        Thanks for adding me to the linky!

        I just thought of one more thing…in the interlude Mike Hanlon says he made a connection with Unwin’s (I think that’s his name) talk about the clown under the bridge when Mellon was thrown over and it was the same clown that killed Georgie Denbrough. Well, how did he know there was a clown in the drain when Georgie was killed? They made it seem as though people only came outside when Georgie screamed and by the time that man reached him, he was already dead and no one was in the drain. Don’t tell me if Hanlon has something to do with it…I just thought it was an interesting observation.

        • Honestly, I cannot remember if Hanlon has anything to do with Pennywise, but it is an interesting point. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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  • How good of Anna to join you! I would have said no solely based on the clown! (Clowns and circuses are no-no’s for me – obviously Anna and I had the same traumatic childhood experience or whatever explains it! LOL)

    • It began with a conversation in which she asked me “What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?” I guess she was looking for a book to scare her. And this was IT (pun intended).

      • It was after reading Christopher Ransom’s The Birthing House and finding the supposedly scary moments really cheesy that I asked for recommendations for a truly scary book.

        As for my fear of clowns…I should say that I’m more creeped out by them than scared. If I see a clown in person, I don’t run away or shriek in fear, but you can bet if one touched me, I’d beat ’em down! 😉

        At BEA last year, The Girl saw a clown walking around promoting some book and did all she could to get his attention so he’d come over to us just because she knew it would make me uncomfortable. LOL

        • Yes, that’s it….after we read that cheese book for book club. I’m so glad the library had it and I didn’t have to buy that one! That was not scary at all.

          Bobo or was it hobo? I remember that guy at BEA…too funny.

          • I think the book was Bobo’s Daughter, but I’m not looking it up because I don’t want to see the cover. LOL

  • I’ll be posting the answers to your questions later today on Diary. I’m still finishing up the section; with all the earthquake excitement yesterday, I couldn’t get The Girl calmed down enough to let me finish reading! She was a total chatterbox! Anyway, I’ll be back later to discuss, and I hope others join us, too!

    • I hope others participate today. I’m not very good about publicizing read-a-longs, but we seemed to have some interest in it.