Re-reading Your Favourite Book of Your Childhood

Have you ever watched a movie or seen a replay of an old TV show you loved as a kid, or maybe as an adult a couple of decades ago when it was fresh.  You re-watched it now and thought, well that’s not that great. Well what about books? Since they are finally getting around to making a movie of this great novel, I decided to re-read my favourite book of all time that I read at school, back in grade six or something, before the movie comes out later this year. There are many fans amongst library staff of this book and the hope for the movie is that it will do the novel justice. There will of course need to be stuff left out to fit into the I imagine maximum time but likely shorter of two hours, but hopefully they include what made the novel so popular with kids and adults who have read it. A librarian from Robina who also likes the novel mentioned the underage sex scenes probably won’t be in the movie. Underage sex scenes? I didn’t remember those? What else didn’t I remember?  I decided to re-read the book and see what I remembered and what I didn’t.  Will it stack up quality wise to my memories?  The cover below is the one from the novel I read as a kid.

It cover 1That book was the novel It by Stephen King. Many other kids also read this novel back in the day and loved it. There were plenty of kids back then and people over the years who have pretended to read It and instead saw the really bad TV show called Stephen King’s It. You could always tell, because whenever they joined in with the discussions they thought It was about a clown. There’s a clown in the novel of course, Pennywise has some major scenes, he’s in the one at the start when George gets his arms pulled off when his paper boat goes down a storm water drain. But of course Pennywise was just one aspect of the novel and the thing that was known by the kids of Derry, Maine, as simply It.

If you haven’t yet read It by the way, you should.  There has been no greater novel ever written.  At least that what I thought before I re-read those 1367 pages again.

What I Remembered Before re-reading It (there’s major spoilers including from the ending in this and the rest of this post by the way).

What I remember most about this novel wasn’t so much It (the creature/entity), or any of the horror aspects, but the way King wrote the characters and their interactions. This was a novel every kid could relate to because every school had characters like the kids in this book. All schools had the overweight kid. The kid with the overprotective parent. The kid who liked to make jokes.  Everyone could see aspects of themselves in one or more of the characters. I remembered there was line “something about owsies” in relation to one of the kids lending money to his friend to see a film. On the way to the cinema that kid runs into another and invites her.  The kid didn’t mention something about owsies to this girl called Beth. I remembered there was a fat kid who got bullied, he used the library a fair bit. I remember something about some books he borrowed ending up ruined at the bottom of ravine due to bullies. I remembered a bully started carving their name into his stomach with a knife. I remembered that it was a mixture of childhood chapters and adult chapters for the same characters because they’d all made a pact that they would be there for each other and to return to Derry if It ever returned.

I remembered as an adult the fat kid had become thin because he ate lots of lettuce and salad, his mother freaked out when he didn’t eat a lot, but didn’t care what he ate.  I remembered It took the form of a giant spider at the end.

So I guess the following is sort of diary of the re-reading experience.

29th May 2017 – The page turning reunion commences

This is the cover of the edition I am re-reading by the way.

It cover 4

30th May 2017

So am over 100 pages in. I had remembered George dying (how the novel starts) but not the stuff about his brother Bill, who stutters (hadn’t remembered that either) making the boat for him, with George being afraid to get the water proofing ingredients from the basement. There’s a lot of padding stuff leading up to each event in the novel, but that’s what I think makes it the masterpiece it is. I had actually remembered the attack on the homosexual guy, and the homophobic descriptions of what went on in a gay bar, yet those who walked in off the street between buses never realised it wasn’t an ordinary bar, but had forgotten it was from this novel. I’d forgotten all the discrimination against the Jewish woman chapters who found one of the childhood characters dead as an adult in the bath. Although I had remembered what happened in the bath and that there were less adults going back.

Hadn’t remembered Ben as an adult torturing himself in a bar with lemons so he could down a lot of whisky. Nor Eddie who married a woman who was also obese like his own mother and was overprotective like she was.

31st of May 2017

Well I was surprised that my memory of a character being called Beth, was actually Bev (or Beverly to be precise). I hadn’t remembered the domestic violence against her as an adult. I hadn’t remembered that Derry was described as a whole town being haunted. That something had been reappearing every 27 years after hibernation and a lot of bodies or people just disappeared every time it came back, that even though this should be newsworthy, never made the news outside of Derry.

2nd June 2017

Well so far It has been a clown, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a bird, a homeless guy with a part of him from within his pants that is falling off, a dead sibling, voices from dead kids in the drain that squirt blood up the pipes, dead kids in a water tower, amongst a range of other things.  I notice a fair few bad characters (mostly parents who like to beat their kids who have gone missing or turned up dead) have ended up in Shawshank.

5th June 2017 (Below is is the latest edition cover that has been added to the collection in our library).

It cover 2I imagine they will cut out most of the adult lives stuff before they get back to Derry for the movie. If they don’t include the kids stuff it won’t be a great movie as the bonding and dealing with bullies and versions of it are what the book is all about.  As I mentioned everyone knew kids like these ones.  These kids are 11 years old by the way, the bullies one or two years older.

Some things I’ve re-read so far that I hope make the film but likely would be emitted for time –

Silver (the bike) he has saved the kids a number of times so far, especially from the werewolf.

The Barrens (drains and river) where they made the dam after Ben had his stomach carved and the brutal fight with the bully.  Nose bleeds and chocolate milk.  Interestingly my memory wasn’t quite correct, his library books didn’t end up in the ravine, he did. As far as we (and he) knows the library books and a poster map for some reading program of the USA where you earn a sticker for each US state when you have read a book that has information about the state on it, were undamaged.  He hoped someone had found the books and handed them into his home since the library put the borrower’s address inside the front covers.

Going to the movies including yo-yo scene and owsies and the fight after the cinemas against the bullies involving Bev, Ben and Richie against the bullies.

Old photographs George’s album, eyes move, cars move and it cuts fingers

6 June

I guess the way I’m writing this from now on is key stuff from the novel.  I guess I hope all this stuff makes the film.

African American’s army base pub burnt down by racists with huge fatality numbers, in fact the whole racism, homophobic views and other bigotry that existed in the 50’s (when the childhood parts of the book are set) I hadn’t remembered.

Ben as an adult in the library upon returning to Derry.  What is in the book is very different to TV show, that had Pennywise acting like Joker from 1966 Batman TV show. The terrible library scene in the TV show is what I remember when I remember the TV show being terrible. I don’t remember anything else about it. Back to the book – The library assistants were nice to him like he remembered teen kids in those jobs were when he was as a child, then realises their niceness is fake and they’ve approached him because he’s in the kids’ area.  I hope the library in the movie will have that glass walkway between the adult and kids sections.  Ben gets a replacement library card and borrows a book which turns out to be one of the ones he borrowed when attacked by Henry. The Three Billy Goats Gruff was also being read during storytime, the same story he heard before leaving and being attacked.

First time Bev was seen by others with hair down at Chinese restaurant when they meet again as adults. Fortune cookies, bugs, eyes, teeth, hadn’t remembered those but they make a cool as adults scene.

Lettuce, salads and running due to gym teacher, hadn’t remembered the gym teacher part of this story or the kids in his new school chasing him naked.

Adult Eddie encounters destroyed baseball and canvas mats (bases) flying at him as he visits a truck yard where kids played baseball in 58, a dead fat kid comes back to life then turns into the leper from his childhood days who asks if wants a blow job for a dime.  Then attacked Tremors movie style by the dead trucker who used to own the place and yelled advice to kids playing. Calls Eddie Wheezy and says “We’ll get you.  You and your friends. We’ll have a BAWL!” Then sees the croquet player blonde girl he had a crush on as a kid who mustn’t have seen him when he waved to her as a child, who now in the 80’s tells him she died in a car crash as a child and did see him wave.

Beverly as an adult encounters a witch in her old home which turns into her dad

Richie encounters Paul Bunyon statue moving and remembers it tried to axe him as a child.

Bill finds Silver in second hand shop

Kid on skateboard tells Bill another kid saw Jaws in the canal and Frankenstein’s monster

It (all the dead kids from his gang, the Loser Club voices, Pennywise the clown), visits Henry Bowers in the insane asylum after the moon has been talking to him and tell him he must kill all The Loser Club.

7th June

Rock fight at the quarry, this was brutal, I wonder if this would be in the movie at all, and if it is how less realistic it will be to appeal to this generation’s more sensitive/overprotective parents.

Eddie learns he doesn’t really have asthma, and that his drugs are placebos from chemist. Henry breaks Eddie’s arm, new bully Patrick spits flem on him and mocks him “you don’t have to eat it all at once, you can save some for later.” That’s the thing with this novel, there’s a lot of quotes kids in my day in the 80’s used to say, or have appeared in TV sitcoms in the years since.  Whether Steven King invented these phrases or was just using ones popular at the time he wrote it or from his own childhood I don’t know.

Eddie’s overprotective mother tells The Losers Club they are to blame and not to come near her kid.  She is especially outraged there was what she calls, the N word, and a girl hanging out with her son who she didn’t know about.

They  go into the old house (Lepper/werewolf one) where Bev shoots It with silver slugs by slingshot. It appears in own form but quickly the werewolf again. It knows fear for the first time, feels pain for the first time and knows it might not be immortal after all. Bev’s shirt was ripped apart during the conflict.  They all see her breasts.  Bill suddenly likes her for the first time in the way Ben and Richie only have before.

It cover 3

June 8

This is another key scene from the novel that I wonder if would be left out of the movie just because they might be afraid to include it. Bev out roller skating comes across Henry, Patrick and others without their pants on, lighting their farts at dump.  “I bet Bill has one of those” line.  Terrified they will see her hides in a car wreck. Sees Patrick give himself and Henry a handjob.  Then after Henry threatens him if he tells and storms off, she watches Patrick be killed by something inside the fridge that he likes to put people’s pets he has stolen in.

Bev’s dad tries to rape her, wants her to take off her pants so knows she hasn’t been sleeping with these boys he’s been told she is hanging out with.  He Chases her across Derry, people just laugh.  She loses him and then Henry and others sneak up on her, she would have got away if not for pony tail. They drag her, an old lady in a car stops and says something, Henry attacks the old woman. Bev knees him in nuts so he lets go of her hair (pulls it out) and she runs into Barrens where hides in base with Ben with a bully standing on top while the others look for their base which they have assumed is a tree house.

June 9

Kids go into the sewers through one of the Morlock holes, (Ben’s term for waste high for a kid, manhole covers that house pumps, they climb down ladder into the drains.  Henry and other bullies in pursuit.

Adults – Henry stabs Mike in library, wounded he leaves assuming Mike is going to die. Christine also makes an appearance and drives Henry with one of the dead bully kids from the 50’s days driving, to the hotel.  I really hope that scene makes the film. He tries to stab Eddie.  Eddie kills him with a water bottle.  Bev’s husband has a dream, It shows him the way to get to it’s lair with balloons and tells him to kill her and the other guys she’s sleeping with. He abducts Bill’s movie star wife in the car park.

June 10

Well I finished the final page 1367, was It the masterpiece I’d remembered from my childhood?  Yeah I think so.  Interestingly the characters themselves weren’t supposed to remember events that took place on its pages, this might be why parts of the story eluded me over these years.  What I didn’t remember that was said won’t be in the movie definitely happened.  It was done as a way to stop being lost and get out of the pipes. Probably also to represent that at the start of the Summer holidays they were regular kids, and over the Summer had to sort of become adults. It’s not the greatest idea as we know her dad was still alive at that point, and remember he had just chased her around Derry wanting her to prove she hadn’t done exactly that, so you’d imagine he might still try and force her to show him she’s intact.  But yeah I seriously would be surprised if that scene is in the movie.

In fact the final confrontations in both the 50’s and 80’s with It, were a bit weak, probably the highlight was George reappearing in the 80’s journey to It’s lair. I can understand why I didn’t remember them (other than there being a giant spider) compared to the non It stuff in the novel.  The Turtle that threw up the universe, the fact IT was a she, they along with the destruction of Derry wrapped up the greatest memories of my childhood book I’d ever read, but were less quality wise writing than the previous pages of the book.  In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply have a fight to the death with a giant spider in the traditional giant creature battle that horror movies go with instead of what’s on the pages.  The 50’s aftermath mentioned It made a mistake with the Spider as even though kids were afraid of the other things It was, kids aren’t afraid of spiders.  I reckon that would be a pretty cool line to end the film on.

“Beep-Beep Richie, Beep-Beep!” I never understood that retort to Richie by various Loser Club members, but I hope the line is said often in the film as it was in the book.

On the final page of the novel King tells us he started to write It on September 9, 1981 and the novel was completed in December 28, 1985.  It does take a little while to read, you might need to renew it once or twice, but it won’t take you more than four years to get through. However long it does though, the novel is well worth it!

If you’ve ever thought about re-reading your favourite book, or a book that you’ve always remembered from your childhood, I recommend you stop thinking about it and just do it.

We can only hope the movie does the book justice and captures most of what made this novel great.

June 11 Taking a Look at the 2017 Movie Preview on IMDB

So I was going to end the post with June 10 but decided to have a look at the preview video on IMBD for It Part One (there will be two movies the first is the childhood days).  Unfortunately it looks a little, well disappointing.  The kids seem more like something cast from Goonies or some sort of child movie than from an adult horror novel.  They interact as long time friends, which may indicate those who’ve made the movie have missed the point of the novel all together.  It was about seven social loser 11 year old kids, some loners, some who knew one or two of the others, but all who through adversity from Henry teamed up, became great friends, and defeated the evil that can only be described as It, after it had appeared to them in various forms.

Lines from one kid’s mouth in the preview about the grey water are what the policeman who busted them after building the dam said in the book.  I hope they haven’t left out the whole Barrens set stuff. In the novel Ben meets Eddie and Bill after the first major fight with Henry happens.  But we’ll have to see.  Beverly in the preview also has short hair which means a lot of key scenes involving the fact she has that long red hair likely won’t happen. In the preview they are entering the sewers through Hollywood movie style open circular drains, this is not what was in The Barrens, they got in through the Morlock holes. Pennywise also looks pretty lame, with a weird paper neck thrill thing that wouldn’t scare or attract a kid to It. (It appeared in the novel as clown form to attract it’s prey, and was supposed to look like something between Bozo and Ronald McDonald).  It also had sharp teeth and the face of The Mummy when Ben saw it in the park, when it wasn’t in attract kids to come to it mode.

The movie is also set in the 80’s when they were kids and the sequel when they are adults will be the present.  I don’t know what year in the 80’s it will be, but I was a kid in that decade around their age by the time the decade ended and the stuff that wouldn’t work today still would have back then. Like kids being able to go outside and play, ride bikes wherever they wanted and not coming home all day without a parent freaking out.  There was always a parent or two like Eddie’s mum, but they were rare.  The bullying wouldn’t be quite plausible, although maybe outside of school where the majority of stuff happens would, no kid would have got away with what Henry and more importantly Patrick does at school in the 80’s.  Obviously music references by the kids and comics they’re reading would be different.  The cost of lollies, movie tickets and stuff would need to be updated obviously.  But overall I think it could still work.  Werewolves and Frankenstein’s Monster, we knew what they were but they’re weren’t any major movies with those things in them, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger would probably make more relevant to kids in the 80’s monsters.  But the Werewolf was in key scenes of the book so we wouldn’t really want to see it replaced I guess.

The racism and homophobic parts of the community wouldn’t really be as plausible though with the movie set in the 80’s instead of 50’s.  Kids in the 80’s often actually clashed with our grandparent’s generation over these views they had. So I don’t know it would be plausible if Mike or Stan in the movie would face the hurdles they do because of their skin colour or religion in the book, at least at a school level or amongst other kids.

Hopefully the movie won’t be as bad as the preview looks overall. Because it’s probably going to be a few decades before they make another.  I wonder what they’ll do with the sequel since most of the adult pages in the novel are them remembering what happened when they were kids?