In September, I suggested a reading order for the extended universe of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a series I loved, but hadn't read any of since Volume 7: The Dark Tower came out in 2004. I realized that I missed the characters from the series, and wondered if the reading order I suggested would really hold someone's interest all the way through. I scoured some local bookstores, and then the internet for the hardcovers of the books, and prepared for my quest to read a Super Long series of books.
The entries about It have been the hardest to write so far, though it's certainly not the hardest book to read. I read this portion while on vacation, and flew through it.
Anyone who writes for more than ten years will have something embarrassingly out-of-touch in their writing. I'm not talking about the ambiguous use of the word soul or a tendency to overuse a thesaurus, I mean very little writing, no matter the quality of the writer, survives the politicization of time.
When the movie version of It came out, every review, article, and blog post I read mentioned a scene near the end of the book where the lone female character is, essentially, gangbanged by the boys in the group.
It's her idea, her decision, her agency. But it's still really out of left field, and disconnected from much of what happens in the book. But then, what makes the book so riveting is that weird situations and unlikely resolutions are constantly bombarding the reader. They make sense as you read them, but probably aren't how you would imagine the characters would work their way out of the situations.
Still, I dreaded getting to that part of the book.
Kids fuck too early. And they always have.
Kids fuck for weird reasons. And they always have.
More importantly, the scene is Very Unsexy, Uncomfortable, and is Incredibly Short. Like most first, young, sex. Nothing about it is erotic. It's never meant to trivialize or romanticize the events around it. It's one of many bizarre, seemingly unnecessary things a group of traumatized kids do to try and get over their trauma. It feels like a thing that frightened, idiot kids would do. And, in the realm of Stephen King books, it's not that uncommon. I seem to remember a very unsexy dream sequence between a high schooler and his speech pathologist in Needful Things. And, I remember a scene in another book where a boy gets an inappropriate erection while trapped with a girl he likes, and she offers to help him with it,and when he says yes, she punches him in the balls. But I can't remember if that's a Stephen King book.
This post has already devoted more time to the incident than the book did.
I dwell on it because I saw it saturate The Internet when the movie came out. People really glad that it didn't make the movie script. And, yea, I'm sure Stephen King and Andrés Muschietti really didn't want to film a sequence of adolescent sex. But, also, this book was over a thousand pages long, they had to cut a tremendous amount of stuff, and this brief scene should have been the first to go, not just because it's gross and awkward but because it ultimately means nothing to the plot or character development.
It also gets cut because it's not even a sex scene, it's a heart scene. It's about believing love will help solve trauma. And there are plenty of better, more believable, and more filmable examples in this last section of the book.
A book about overcoming a monster with love isn't usually my thing. I don't like monster books, and I don't like any book where love conquers _blank_, unless it's love conquers the government because I've reached the age where I would root for baby-chimp-murdering teacher who failed students who smelled badly, provided (s)he beat an American politician to death somewhere in the book. Maybe this will be one of my horribly dated pieces of writing for including that. I hope it will be because the 2010s become historically known as the worst time ever in American politics, and everything is about to get much better real soon. Excuse me if I don't hold my breath, though.
Where was I?
Right, beating monsters with love instead of science or religion or history (but including all of those just in case the love doesn't work out) isn't usually my thing, but King really makes it work here. I look forward to reading this book again in 28ish years, when people upload their brainwave feelings about how fortunate it is that the Live Holographic Rendering Of It being broadcast on The Moon leaves out the extremely inappropriate parts about using a bicycle without a helmet.
--I remembered almost none of the last third of the book
--Wait, that's it? That's all we get of the Turtle? Maaaaaaan, that doesn't tie into The Dark Tower much at all!
--But Pennywise is totally related to a monster or two that we'll meet later
--I should have written this entry closer to my completion of the book. I'm about two weeks out now, and have so much more recent Tower stuff in my brain, that I barely remember what I had originally intended to write
--we're 4,879 pages into this chronology, and it's turtles most of the way down