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Disquiet and desire.  All the difference between world and want — the difference between being an adult who counted the cost and a child who just got on it and went, for instance.  All the world between.  Yet not that much difference at all.  Bedfellows, really.  The way you felt when the roller coaster car approached the top of the first steep grade, where the ride really begins.

Disquiet and desire.  What you want and what you’re scared to try for.  Where you’ve been and where you want to go.  Something in a rock-and-roll song about wanting the girl, the car, the place to stand and be.  Oh please God can you dig it.

(from It, page 1085)

I still don’t know how Serena talked me into reading It, given the fact that clowns really, really creep me out, but I’m glad she did.  After being disappointed by The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom, I’d been looking for a book that would truly scare me, and while I can’t say I was terrified at any point while reading It, there were a few times when I didn’t want to turn the lights off until my husband came to bed.

Stephen King showcases his talent as a storyteller in It, which focuses on an evil entity living under the fictional town of Derry, Maine, that emerges every 27 years to feed on children (and the occasional adult) and the seven kids who join forces to beat it.  Led by Bill Denbrough, whose little brother, George, is brutally murdered by It in the form of Pennywise the clown, the self-proclaimed “Losers” — Ben Hanscom, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Beverly Marsh, Stan Uris, and Mike Hanlon — spend much of the summer of 1958 contemplating ways to rid Derry of It, an evil with many faces based on the fears of its prey and the ability to control the people and world around it.

The novel shifts back and forth in time, mainly between 1958, when the gang thought they killed It, and 1985, when Mike — now Derry’s librarian — realizes It has begun another killing spree and reminds his old friends about the blood oath they made 27 years before — that if it started up again, they’d come back and get rid of It once and for all.  However, only Mike remembers what happened that day under the city in 1958, and as the others slowly remember, they wonder whether they can recapture the faith and power they had as children, because only that will rid Derry of the evil that has plagued it since prehistoric times.

King includes many details about Derry and its people, and at times he seems to ramble a lot.  At first, I thought a large chunk of the book’s 1,090 pages probably could have been cut out, but after turning the final page, I changed my mind.  He jerks readers back and forth in time and tells seemingly unnecessary and unrelated stories, and then a light goes on and you see how these details fit into the larger scheme of things.

Derry is a messed up town, a town with a violent past, a town with a lot of stories to tell, and only when these stories are told does the reader understand how long It has been on the prowl and how much of a hold It has on its inhabitants.  Can you imagine anyone sitting at a bar and ignoring a gruesome ax murder occurring behind them?  Can you imagine all the men of the town positioning themselves in various locations of downtown to massacre a notorious gang in broad daylight?  You can once you learn that a clownish man or a man dressed in a clown suit was in the midst of the chaos.  It’s both chilling and fascinating, and it’s a novel where you just have to go with the flow and know that you’ll “get” it by the end.

There are several things that surprised me about It, beyond the fact that I could read about Pennywise and not have nightmares.  For some reason, I expected King’s writing to be more on the “fluffy” side (for lack of a better word), so I was surprised at his amazing use of language and description.  I was also surprised by how well he juggled so many main characters.  One could argue that Bill is the main character, as he is viewed as the leader, but the rest of the gang and even the bully Henry Bowers, who terrorizes them as children and as adults, get plenty of time in the spotlight.  King’s characters are so well developed, each with their own unique personalities.  They feel like real people, and you know them almost as well as you know yourself.  Moreover, I was surprised by how invested I was in these characters, so much so that I cried at the end of the Last Interlude.  I didn’t just tear up; I actually sobbed for a minute or two.

Readers shouldn’t be scared by the fact that It is a chunkster.  I read it over a period of five months, and each time I picked up the book, it felt like I hadn’t put it aside for a few weeks, it was still so fresh in my mind.  Readers also shouldn’t dismiss It as simply a horror novel.  Yes, there are some gory scenes, and yes, King plays with your mind a bit, but there’s a lot more going on here.  It is a coming-of-age story, a novel about friendship and love, and he touches upon the idea of childhood innocence, memory, and fear and how our perceptions of the world change as we get older.  The plot picks up the pace so that by the last section, I couldn’t read it fast enough.  It is a novel that is creepy, yet thought-provoking at the same time.  And believe it or not, despite the page length, I think it’s one I would read again in the future.

Disclosure: I received my copy of It as a gift. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Today marks the 5th and final discussion of the IT read-along I’ve been co-hosting with Serena since August.  Our final discussion on Part 5, The Last Interlude, and Epilogue is being held on Savvy Verse & Wit.  We hope you will join in the discussion, and we thank those of you who read along with us or read the book in the past and shared your thoughts.

I’m a bit behind in my reading since coming back from my grandmother’s funeral at the beginning of the month, but I’m nearing the end of the book and will answer Serena’s questions soon.  I will post my review of the book tomorrow.

At this point, I’m burning through the pages because I need to know what It is, how the kids sent It into hiding 27 years ago, and whether they’ll succeed in getting rid of It once and for all.

Please be aware that the discussion contains spoilers; my review will not. The discussion of Part 1 and the First Interlude was held on Savvy Verse & Wit in August (my responses to Serena’s questions are here), Part 2 and the Second Interlude was held here in September, Part 3 and the Third Interlude was held on Savvy Verse & Wit in October, and Part 4 and the Fourth Interlude was held here (late) earlier this month.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Serena and I are hosting a read-along of Stephen King’s IT, with discussions held every month from August to December.  The discussion for Part 4 and the Fourth Interlude was originally scheduled for Nov. 30, but I’m a little late in posting because I was away for my grandmother’s funeral.  Thanks for your patience.

[Please be aware that the discussion may contain spoilers.  The discussion of Part 1 and the First Interlude was held on Savvy Verse & Wit in August (my responses to Serena’s questions are here), Part 2 and the Second Interlude was held here in September, and Part 3 and the Third Interlude was held on Savvy Verse & Wit in October.]

Here are the discussion questions I came up with for Part 4 and the Fourth Interlude.  We hope you will join in the discussion, whether you’re reading with us now or have read the book in the past.

1.  We have now seen the 7 main characters, “the Losers,” both as children and adults.  Do you have a favorite character at this point?

What I like best about IT so far is that King is able to juggle so many characters, giving them distinct and unique personalities.  You can understand how and why they become friends; their personalities just clicked.

I think right now my favorite characters are Bill, the thoughtful one and the leader, Bev, the strong tomboy, and Ben, whose love for Bev is so endearing.  I don’t think I like Bev as much as an adult, though.  I can understand how after all she’d been through she ended up with an abusive husband, but I still don’t like thinking about how the young Bev who insisted the boys not treat her differently because she’s a girl grew up to marry such an awful person, even if one could blame it on her relationship with her dad.

2.  After Richie and Mike have a vision of It having always been in Derry, what do you think It is?  Do you think they have any chance of getting rid of It once and for all?

They stress that what carried It to Derry was not a spacecraft per say, so I’m not certain It’s an alien life form or anything like that.  There seems to be some indication that It has just always been, sort of like God but different, so maybe It is the opposite of God, an evil that has always been around.  I think I might be overthinking that one, but it’s less cheesy than It being an alien!  Still no clue why It has targeted Derry, though, but It’s influence over the town’s history is evident.

I’m hopeful that the gang has the strength to take It down, though I have a feeling that some of my favorite characters may not survive.  If they, as a group of kids, a gang of Losers, had the ability to scare It, why couldn’t they as adults get rid of It for good?  I’m optimistic…for the moment.

3.  In the Fourth Interlude, Mike talks about the axe murders committed by Claude Heroux in a crowded bar.  The people not targeted by Claude’s rage simply sat and did nothing.  What do you think this means in the context of It and what we know about the town of Derry?

I think this episode underscores the fact that evil is lurking in Derry.  There’s mention of a man clowning around and doing tricks, and we can assume this was Pennywise or Bob Gray or whatever It was then.  Was It controlling Claude and the patrons who did nothing?  I guess that’s possible.  But it also shows that the people of Derry are powerless to stop the violence perpetrated by It and how he uses people to commit these acts (i.e. the fire involving Mike’s dad and the execution of the gang in downtown).

4.  After the kids scare It away from the house on Neibolt Street, Ben thinks a lot about “power.”  What do you think “power” has to do with It?

I wonder if believing that It and all its many forms are real gives It some power.  I also think that the kids joining forces has given them some power of It.  One could say power comes up many times in the book — the power It has over Derry (the many acts of violence over the years, the curfews, and the fear), the power It has over the lives of each of the main characters (their success and even childlessness, their failed relationships), and the power of It to call them back to Derry for a final showdown.

5.  What are your overall impressions of the book so far?

I’m enjoying this book more than I honestly thought I would.  Part 2 and the Second Interlude were the hardest for me; they really dragged.  But the book has picked up the pace and is keeping me on the edge of my seat.  I can’t say it’s made me really scared, but some of the scenes with Pennywise have really creeped me out.  It definitely could be shorter, though; King does seem to ramble at times.

What do you think??

Please visit Savvy Verse & Wit on Dec. 21 for the final discussion on Part 5 and the Last Interlude.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Serena and I are hosting a read-along of Stephen King’s IT once a month through December.  Click here for the complete reading schedule.  This month’s discussion on Part 3 and the Third Interlude are being held on Serena’s blog, and I hope you’ll jump over there and join in the discussion if you’re participating in the read-along or have read the book in the past.

While I found Part 2 to be a little rambling and harder to get through, Part 3 read very quickly for me, mainly because we’re back to the main characters in the present (1985) as they face off with It to finish what they hoped they’d stopped for good back in 1958.  At this point, we almost know these characters better than we know ourselves, which is no small accomplishment by King given the fact that there are about 7 characters in the forefront.

There’s more action and even some terror as Pennywise the Clown makes numerous appearances in various forms and more of what happened in the previous killing cycles is revealed.  (Let me just tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever set foot in a library again without thinking of Pennywise!)  King does a great job giving you enough information to feel somewhat satisfied while making you yearn for more details.

The first discussion on Part 1 and the First Interlude was held on Serena’s blog, and the discussion on Part 2 and the Second Interlude was held here.

I will be hosting the next discussion on Part 4 and the Fourth Interlude here on Diary of an Eccentric on November 30, and I hope you’ll join us!

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Serena and I are hosting a read-along of Stephen King’s IT, which will be held once a month through December.  Our first discussion was held on Savvy Verse & Wit and covered Part 1 and the First Interlude.  (Click here for my responses to Serena’s questions.)

This month, I am hosting the discussion of Part 2 and the Second Interlude.  Please be advised that our discussions may contain spoilers.

I’ve come up with some questions to guide the discussion, but as usual, feel free to talk about whatever stuck out to you while reading.  Feel free to respond on your blog (and put your link in the Mister Linky below) or in the comments.

1.  What are your thoughts on the many characters, particularly the 7 main characters (Bill, Ben, Eddie, Richie, Bev, Stan, and Mike) who we see as both children and adults throughout the narrative?  At this point, you’ve had 450 pages to get to know them.  Do they seem real to you?  Do you have a favorite?

King is great with characterization.  Each character is different, yet they fit together well as a group.  I feel like I’ve come to know each of them, but mostly as children at this point.  With so many characters at the forefront, you’d think it would be easy to confuse them, but that’s not the case at all.

I think I like them all in some way, but I have a couple of favorites.  Bill Denbrough, whose little brother is killed at the very beginning, has a stuttering problem that makes it difficult for him to communicate.  When he tells Richie about the guilt he carries about Georgie’s death, I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him — then smack his parents for not seeing his pain.  I also have a soft spot for Ben Hanscom, the overweight, lonely boy who blossoms when he makes friends with the rest of the main characters.

2.  King provides a lot of details about his characters.  Do you think some of it unnecessarily lengthens the book, or do you think the details will prove important at some point or are simply important in helping us get to know them better?

I must admit there were scenes in this section that I felt were too long and slowed down the book (Mike’s descriptions of Spring on his family’s farm comes to mind).  I think these scenes help develop the characters to a certain extent, but that could have been accomplished with half as much detail.  I guess I just have to wait and see whether all of these details are shown to be important later on.

3.  It almost seems as though the setting is a main character as well.  What do you think is going on in Derry, and what does the town itself have to do with the evil known as IT?

I have no idea what’s going on in this town, but I’m wondering whether the town itself plays a role in the murders.  I’m wondering whether the characters as adults are scared of returning to Derry because of the evil that lurks there or whether it’s both the evil and the town itself that terrifies them.  King describes the town’s topography in great detail, and it seems like a lot of the evil is centered around the river, the canal, and the barrens.  I wonder if we’ll find out why the evil lurks in Derry and whether IT chose Derry or whether Derry itself is the evil.

4.  Do you find the book scary?  Is there one particular face of IT that you find creepier than the others?

I wouldn’t say it’s scary, at least not yet.  It’s not keeping me up at night.  However, it is pretty creepy, especially the clown.  If I didn’t already have a fear of clowns, this book would give me one for sure!  I think IT as The Creature from the Black Lagoon and a giant bird was somewhat lame.  I think IT as a person, particularly a clown, is creepier than creatures that don’t exist in reality.  The scene with Bill and Richie looking through Georgie’s photo album is the closest I have come to thinking the book is scary, but there’s a lot of book left!

5.  What do you think of the structure of the book, particularly the shifts from the past and the present?  Does it work in unraveling the tale, or do you think it makes it a bit confusing?

I wouldn’t say the structure is confusing, but it does seem choppy at times.  However, I can see how it might be difficult to tell the story linearly, especially when many of the details of the evil are in the past, and the characters in the present are going back to Derry to face IT again.

6.  We’re not quite halfway through the book, but what are your thoughts about it so far?

So far, it’s not bad.  Parts of it are a bit long and maybe could have been cut, but I’ll reserve judgment on that until I finish the book.  The clown is creepy, especially now that he’s not just a clown but a mummy and a leper.  Most importantly, I’m enjoying King’s writing style and his ability to manage multiple main characters in such a way that each of them is unique, distinct, and really well rounded.

Please share your thoughts with us!  And join us for the next discussion on Part 3 and the Third Interlude at Savvy Verse & Wit on Oct. 31!

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Serena and I are hosting a read-along of Stephen King’s IT, which will be held once a month through December.  Our first discussion is being held on Savvy Verse & Wit and covers Part 1 and the First Interlude.

I don’t want to say too much here; I’m saving most of my thoughts for the discussion on Serena’s post.  We hope many of you who expressed interest in reading along with us have finished the first section and are ready to chat..but if you haven’t finished yet or just decided you want to join us, feel free to play catch-up.  We’ll be waiting to discuss the book with you when you’re ready.

Serena has posed some questions for the first section of the book.  Here are my thoughts, and don’t forget to visit Savvy Verse & Wit for what we hope will be a more in-depth discussion.

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?

My first experience reading Stephen King was several years ago when my husband bought The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon because he’s a huge Boston Red Sox fan.  While traveling 8 hours to visit family, Jerry thought it would be fun for me to be an audio book, and I read the entire thing aloud while he drove.  I didn’t think it was a horrible book, but I wasn’t wowed.  I remember wondering what people found so awesome and creepy about Stephen King and thinking we must have chosen the wrong book.

I’m having a much better time with IT.  I find clowns really creepy, and since I want to read a truly scary book, I think Serena’s right about trying this one first.  I think it’s too early to tell whether it’ll actually scare me, but by the time I finished the First Interlude, I was curious and leaning more toward creepy than cheesy.  King’s writing is more literary than I expected, and even though I’m only 150 pages into the book, I already am impressed.

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

What a seriously troubled bunch they are!  At first I felt overwhelmed with all the characters being introduced, but King does a wonderful job making them all unique, even though they are all embroiled in problematic relationships or life situations and doing a horrible job at suppressing what I assume will prove to be some pretty terrifying memories.  King really knows his characters inside and out.  I really felt like I was truly getting to know them.  King even takes time building the characters who are not in the forefront of the mysterious murders in Derry, Maine.  Bev’s abusive husband and Ben’s bartender immediately come to mind.  I’m most interested in Bill Denbrough, who deals with the trauma of his little brother’s murder by Pennywise the Dancing Clown by writing horror stories.

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

Of course he’s scary!  He’s a clown!  And a clown with sharp teeth and yellow eyes!  I think it’s too soon to tell whether or not he’s real, but he’s real enough in that several different characters have seen him over the years.

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

I can’t comment just yet about the purpose of the interludes, as I’ve only read one.  However, it was one of the creepiest parts of the book so far, giving more details about Derry’s haunted and haunting history.  I was glad for the interlude because the previous (and quite long) chapter in which all the major players in the story are called back home was pretty vague.  They all received calls, none of them wanted to go, but they had to.  And they couldn’t tell the people they are closest to why they must up and leave right that instant.  The interlude makes the reason they are going back to Derry a little clearer.

I hope some of you will join in the discussion.  The discussion on Part 2 and the Second Interlude will take place here on Sept. 28.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Serena and I are hosting two read-a-longs this month, and we’d love for you to join us.

We’ll be reading It by Stephen King from August through December.  The first discussion on Part 1 and the following interlude will be held on Savvy Verse & Wit on August 24.  Click here to view the complete reading schedule.

We’re also reading Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles as part of the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge 2011, but you don’t have to be participating in the challenge to read with us!  We will be hosting a discussion on the book every Friday this month on War Through the Generations beginning August 5.  Click here to view the complete schedule.

Please let me know in the comments if you planning on reading with us!

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Despite my intense dislike for clowns — especially creepy looking ones — Serena somehow managed to convince me to read Stephen King’s IT.  Actually, she bought the book for me for Christmas and pretty much told me I HAD to read it with her.

Anyway, we decided to hold a read-a-long later this year, and we want to invite you all to join us.  The read-a-long will begin in August (we’ll post a reminder, so don’t worry!) and end in December.  The book has 5 parts, and we’ll be reading one part (plus the interlude following) each month.

Here’s the schedule:

Aug. 24 — discussion on part 1 to be held on Savvy Verse & Wit

Sept. 28 — discussion on part 2 to be held on Diary of an Eccentric

Oct. 31 — discussion on part 3 to be held on Savvy Verse & Wit

Nov. 30 — discussion on part 4 to be held on Diary of an Eccentric

Dec. 21 — discussion on part 5 to be held on Savvy Verse & Wit

We hope you will consider joining us!  You can bet I’ll do all of my reading of this book during the daylight hours.  Thanks, Monica, for the awesomely creepy button!

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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