Hi everyone, and welcome to another Late To The Party. I have written about reading Stephen King’s It for the first time. Much like the book, I’ve come up with something quite long, meandering, and a bit pretentious; but hopefully, like the original I’ll be able to get across what I’m trying to say.
Be aware that the article will contain unmarked spoilers for the entire book.
Trigger warning / content warning: the article will refer to some of the book’s depictions of physical violence, sexual violence, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic acts and slurs, suicide, and sexual acts between children.
I was scared of this book. But it wasn’t fear of what was in it. It was a fear of myself and of what I needed to do. I was already halfway through the book when I decided to write a Late To The Party piece about it, and I wanted to go back and reread the first half so I could write notes, but I was too scared of the effort and responsibility during a stressful time in my life, so I ended up putting it off for a long time. So when I was finally able to do it I was writing down my memories of reading it for the first time months earlier. And then I realized that I needed to finish the second half before writing notes about it.
All of this is a long-winded way to say that while working on this I ended up dealing a lot with memory and perception, topics which the book itself greatly cares about. So I’ll try not to make this too much about me, but it has certainly been an experience, reading this for the first time and having to think and write about it as well, and to think about myself.
It is the 22nd book by Stephen King, written between 1981-1985 and released in 1986. At 1,138 pages it was his longest published work at the time of release, and is still the second longest by a slim margin since the release of the full version of The Stand.
It is one of King’s most famous, and infamous, books. Infamous for its length (and weight), writing and plotting which many find to be largely unfocused and meandering, and perhaps most of all for a scene near the end in which the main characters, while they are children, have sex. But it’s also acclaimed for its explorations of childhood, growing up, memory, and understanding the world. It owes much of its current fame and success to two very successful adaptations, a TV miniseries from 1990 and a two-part film series from 2017 and 2019.
The book tells about the fictional town of Derry, Maine, which is haunted by a strange and terrifying being which comes to be known simply as It. Every 27 years or so, It torments the town with a series of horrific murders, usually for between one and two years, before slumbering until the next cycle begins. The seven main characters, the “Losers”, all grow up in Derry, become friends, and eventually come to recognize and confront It. The book shifts between two different time periods, 1957-1958, when the Losers face It as children, and 1984-1985, when they return to Derry to face It as adults. It also includes interludes in which Mike, one of the Losers and a librarian and historian, recounts his attempts to trace Derry’s history and It’s previous horrors.
It. The first thing you know about this book is its name. Or, It’s name. Such a simple and powerful title, encapsulating in it just how much this is a book about things that can’t be fully comprehended or defined.
Likewise, the cover always stuck in my mind, even for years before I read the book. Not the cover of the version I read, but the original hardcover featured in the header image, the memorable image of a paper boat sailing towards a gutter where a clawed hand reaches up. So much fear and sadness wrapped up in that image.
The book opens, as it must, with a dedication to King’s children. “This book is gratefully dedicated to my children. My mother and my wife taught me how to be a man. My children taught me how to be free. … Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.” Addressing his children, and arguably children everywhere, is a nice touch. This hints at the caring and almost optimistic undertones of the story, alongside the horror (as well as the general focus on childhood).
It also opens with an epigraph. Both the book as a whole, and each part, each interlude, and the epilogue, will have epigraphs at their start, usually quotes from poetry, music or literature, which connect to what is to come. In my eyes, these help give everything some pathos – a kind of “this is a big deal” pretention that helps establish the universal angles of the story. Much like the length and breadth of the story, they show how important this work was to King.
Part 1: The Shadow Before
The first thing I thought of when I started reading, was that this book does an amazing job at drawing the reader in. The entirety of part 1 is a kind of sequence of openings. Each in turn is longer, scarier, sadder, more harrowing, and contains more of what the book will be about. In this way we are teased, step by step, from a short opening chapter that establishes the horror and sadness, and on and on from one step to the next.
We start with one of the best opening lines I’ve read. “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.” In one sentence we’ve gotten Terror, together with unexpectedly telling us the ending, together with sowing doubt that the ending is actually an ending, and emphasizing how incomprehensible and insurmountable the terror is (which ties into It ultimately being the evil of people), together with establishing narration (and perhaps the unreliability of the narration), and finally drawing us into the details of the current moment.
Now that this sentence has drawn us in, we proceed through the entire opening chapter, in 1957, about the death of Georgie. In the space of a few pages we meet Georgie, and his brother Bill who he loves, and the cellar of his house which he fears. Bill will be one of the heroes of the book, but we open with the perspective of his little brother, whose death will start another cycle of death, and, as the opening alludes, will also start the events of the book. We must then watch in helpless terror as Georgie is drawn to his death by… a clown, impossibly floating just inside a street gutter, who draws Georgie in with laughter and promises – before biting his arm off, leading to his death.
Chapter 1 already establishes or hints at many things that will become major in the book – the worldviews of children, the nature of fear and imagination, the power of the natural world, and probably many more. (I had a whole page full of quotes from this chapter and notes about it, but I think I need to rein myself in a bit).
We then move on to the longer second chapter, in which we have our first time jump, 27 years ahead. A gay man, Adrian Mellon, is brutally murdered by three Derry teenagers. The events are relayed through a twice-detached perspective – that of the investigating police detectives, who hear the testimonies of the murderers and of Adrian’s traumatized boyfriend, Don Hagarty. We gradually start to learn about a lot of the violence and bigotry that is hidden in plain sight in Derry. And we also learn that both the teens’ and Don’s accounts share a crucial fact – that Adrian was not, in fact, murdered by the teens throwing him over a bridge into the Kenduskeag stream, but by a strange man waiting on the bank, a man who appeared to be a clown. The Assistant D.A, however, is adamant that this must not be true and that even if it somehow has some truth, they must not pursue it for fear of sabotaging their case against the three teens.
Chapter 2 is both a parallel and escalation of Chapter 1. Each features the first event of their respective cycles, the 1957 cycle and the 1984 cycle. Both show It, and this time we hear a lot more detail of It’s actions and of people’s reactions to it. We also get a good contrast of now focusing on new and minor characters, which helps expand the setting and the weight of the events – this is happening to everyone, not just our heroes. And perhaps most importantly, it starts to feature all-to-real human cruelty, in its various forms, and the way It seems to interact with that cruelty. Don seems to understand this more than anyone, when he tells the detectives that It “was Derry… it was this town”.
We now reach Chapter 3, which is much longer than both of the previous combined, the longest chapter in the book in fact. It’s effectively a chapter made up of chapters – six sections, which introduce us to six of the seven main characters.
The first sub-chapter is the next step in how the book draws us in. Focusing on Patricia Uris, we hear primarily about her own life – her memories of coping with antisemitism, her present-day anxieties, her overbearing parents; and also her relationship with her husband Stan, their love, their unending and growing success, and also them not succeeding in having children. And finally, we reach the night when Stan receives a phone call from someone named Mike, reacts to it strangely, and then goes to take a bath. And in another human horror moment, we experience Patty’s mounting fear as she starts to realize something’s wrong, begins to panic when she gets no response from Stan, and finally finds him dead after killing himself. All he leaves behind him is a message written on the wall in his own blood – IT.
And so, with an outsider’s viewpoint which leaves us with almost no idea what’s going on, all we know is that someone got a phone call, and was so utterly terrified of what he heard that he chose to end his life (although we, unlike Patty, are at least able to understand that it has something to do with a strange being who murders people in Derry). What we do know quite a bit about, though, is the life of Patty Uris and her relationship with her husband Stan. This chapter fully introduces one of the major characteristics of the book, deep and detailed explorations of people’s lives and thoughts, of the little things that happen to them and of the memories that shape them, of the way their minds work and the way they grow. The book will spend a lot of time on these details, often, as here, with characters who have minor roles, or even ones who appear only once.
When I am rereading the second half, I will write down “I’m trying to comb through it for points to note down, and I don’t feel guilty or scared about skimming over it and possibly missing things, because most of the book is the “spaces between” – most of it isn’t big or iconic moments, most of it is letting memories and experiences breathe.”
This first sub-chapter leads directly to the next five, where we’ll meet the others in more detail and start to better understand what’s going on. In a way the entirety of chapter 3 is the longest opening segment; but at the same time, Stan’s section is in a way the last ‘opening’ of the book, and by this point we’ve been sucked in fully.
Honestly, I feel like I could write an entire article just about the process of these first 2 1/6 chapters (I almost have already), but there’s a lot more to talk about.
The remainder of the chapter establishes things much more directly. We are introduced to the rest of the Losers more completely – some of the sub-chapters are from their perspectives, and even the ones that aren’t show them talking about what’s going on.
What’s going on, is that Mike, the only one of the Losers who remained in Derry, is calling the rest of them and asking them to come back. And each of them discovers that they’ve forgotten everything about their childhood until this moment. They are scared, both of what they forgot and of the fact that they forgot.
The theme of memory in general, and memories of childhood specifically, is most fully established with the fact that the Losers have forgotten everything and are only now starting to remember. The very fact that we are introduced to them in this chapter, when they are adults (apart from the brief appearance of Bill in Chapter 1) also emphasizes this theme – we don’t start out with them as kids, we start out with them as adults, and then we dive into what they forgot and started to remember. In a way, the events of their childhoods almost didn’t exist until they started to remember.
So we meet each of the Losers in turn, and how in contrast to their childhood group name they have all been quite successful in adulthood. We already saw Stan Uris, a talented accountant who’s found success in the nascent video cassette field; Richie Tozier is a celebrity DJ famed for his ‘voices’; Ben Hanscomb is a world-renowned architect; Eddie Kaspbrak runs a limousine company for the stars; Beverly Marsh is a gifted fashion designer, but unfortunately is also trapped in an abusive relationship with a horrible man named Tom; and Bill is a popular writer of horror fiction, in a loving marriage to Audra, an actress who’s appeared in adaptations of his books.
When I reread the first half to take notes I need to skip most of Beverley’s section; I just write “ Beverley’s chapter fucks me up.”. But I still note that her section “Starts from outsider’s perspective, shifts to character’s perspective”. And then I ask myself “Am I focusing on structural and symbolic points because I find people and feelings so hard to understand?”
I still don’t really know.
Each section does something different – some have more focus on relationships, some show how the person reverts not just in memory but also physically, some show the person going back as fast as possible or putting it off. And they start to establish similarities and connections between them.
Finally we reach the end of Part 1 and the first of the Derry Interludes, in which Mike the historian writes about how he’s recounted the history of Derry, which primarily means the history of It, together with his thoughts on the matter and on other matters. In the first Interlude these thoughts are mostly about how everything is starting again, and how he is scared of asking the others to come back. In addition, his historian mentor advises him how to approach learning Derry’s history, which mainly comes down to tracking down a lot of personal testimony and giving weight to oral history. And indeed, the next three Interludes will be based on events that Mike heard of from first-hand testimony.
Mike, the only one who never forgot, is almost inevitably invested in chronicling memory, his own and others’, and history. This Interlude is the proper introduction to Mike, and it’s different from all the rest in several ways: 1. Because he never forgot and never left, so the dynamic is completely different from the others who are dealing with remembering; 2. Because he’s writing this himself, whereas the others have narration together with and inner thoughts and dialogue; 3. Because he’s primarily writing a kind of history, which combined with points 1+2 gives it a more detached but also more self-aware tone.
And now we’re ready. If everything up to Stan’s section can count as a series of openings, than everything up to this point definitely does. We’ve set up everything that the book will be about; we’ve seen the beginnings of the 1957 and 1984 cycles; and now that everyone remembers the events of both times can be set in motion – the events of 1985 can begin, and the events of 1958 are brought back into being now that they are remembered.
Part 2 – June Of 1958
Part 2 is the first part almost entirely focused on the events of the Losers’ childhood. Continuing the theme of memory and the framing from Chapter 3, the childhood chapters are framed as being their memories which they are recalling on the way home.
This part of the book features one of its best and most fondly remembered elements – the descriptions of childhood, of the mindsets and viewpoints of children and the way they experience and learn the world. Later childhood sections will also show this, but will also have the struggle against It take a more central place. Right now the horrors still aren’t as central, and some of the kids still haven’t encountered It or what it does, or aren’t sure if they really have or just imagined it. In that way, Part 2 has a very unique dynamic, in which a lot of the focus is simply on the experiences of childhood, with the horror emerging but still being little more than childhood fears temporarily come to life. It’s only when the kids start to tell each other about what they’ve seen, and to see it together, that it starts to become ‘real’, more than just imagination; in much the same way that all of these events, in a way, only became ‘real’ once they remembered them as adults.
Really that’s what it’s all about – It (the monster, but the book as well) is about giving life to all of the fears of children. Over the course of the book we will come to see that It encompasses everything – personal experiences and traumas, monsters from folklore and pop culture, fears of strangers, fears of loved ones, fears of adults, fears of other children, fears of empty spaces and the local environment and nature, all the way up to incomprehensible cosmic horrors.
Everything that we had to deal with as kids, the Losers also have to deal with; but for them, all of it, down to the most impossible thing, is real and deadly. At the same time, it does go both ways – for children, the positive that they imagine is as real as the negative. So in a way, they are the ones who can make magic, as is most directly shown when Stan drives It away by chanting the names of the birds in his album.
A lot of all of this is found in the descriptions of the town and its surroundings, and how the kids see them. This is most apparent with the introduction of The Barrens, a wild area of natural growth just outside the town, which becomes both the Losers’ meeting and playing spot, and the symbolic and literal gateway to the heart of darkness. I think part of how such a small, intimate story can also convey universal cosmic horror so well, is that it leans into the childlike (or particularly childlike) perception, that your immediate surroundings are the entire world. Especially in a small town.
I love how Part 2 progresses from the kids alone to them coming together (apart from Mike, who learns at a different school and lives at the edge of town, and will only join them later). We see each of the kids meet It alone, in different forms each time; and we also see them deal with ‘normal’ problems – neglectful or even abusive parents, violent bullies, medical issues and disabilities. Eddie copes with his asthma and his mother’s overbearing fears for his safety and health; Ben deals with his loneliness which he isn’t even consciously aware of, and with the bullying and seclusion he has faced for being fat; Beverly has to survive an abusive, violent father; Bill has no idea how to handle his grieving, detached parents, and tries to deal with his stutter.
But gradually they meet and befriend each other, they trust each other and confide in each other; and eventually they start to confess the inexplicable things that they’ve been seeing, and find out that they’re not alone. They come to realize that they have to contend with It somehow, especially when they come to understand that adults can’t see It; this is mainly driven by Bill, who is intent on avenging his brother’s death.
They’re about to go to the laundromat, and I remember that the moment at the laundromat is about to happen. I don’t remember what it is, other than there was a moment at the laundromat and it was important, and it made me fell funny, and it makes me feel funny to remember it. It’s a bit like how they remember things – like we all do.
The laundromat scene is a confluence of stories and of supports. The boys tell Beverly she’s not alone, they regale Bill’s story and their own stories, including Stan regaling his for the first time, Eddie helping Stan with his aspirator, the others telling Stan what they know about the standpipe…
The second Interlude is my favorite, and in my opinion the most powerful. Mike recalls how his dad, dying of cancer and barely able to remain conscious, told him about the fire at the Black Spot. I find this one the most powerful due to the importance of bigotry and hatred, and It’s connection to them, and due to Mike’s personal connection to it.
Part 3 – Grownups
I don’t know if I have anything interesting to say about Part 3. Probably the most interesting thing for me personally, is that it’s during this Part, about halfway through the book, that I initially stopped reading, and couldn’t continue. When I reread the first half, skimming, in order to take notes, it was up to that same point. And then I got ready to start reading the second half, to be able to really take notes while reading for the first time, at least with half of the book. And it’s at that same point where I realized that I wasn’t able to do it, because it was too much at once, and that I would have to read the second half without taking notes, and reread it for the purpose of taking notes, just like the first half.
By coincidence, the moment where I stopped was the end of the Losers’ reunion at the restaurant, just before they start their memory tours through the town. This is meaningful, because if there is one thing I can note about Part 3, it’s that it establishes a clear contrast between adults and children, specifically the main characters as adults and as children. At this moment we fully enter into this parallel. Children are more easily accepting, more intuitive, more naive, easier to believe things. Adults, on the other hand, tend to be more set in their ways, less inclined to believe in the supernatural or accept the inexplicable. The Losers basically need to force themselves, at Mike’s suggestion, to learn again how to act on intuition.
I have less notes for the second half, so I’ll need to improvise and intuit my way as I go. Similar to the difference between the Losers as kid and as adults – second time around they know a lot less what it is they need to do.
Chapter 11 is similar to both Chapter 2, with sub-chapters focused on each one regaining their memories; and to all of Part 2, in that it follows each of them on personal journeys through Derry. This is another way that Part 3 compares adults and children – you can return to where you grew up, but by definition it won’t be the same at all. All of them trying to reconnect with their childhood experiences was equal parts sweet, sad and frightening (frightening, mainly because It is already trying to torment them again; Beverly’s experience with the ‘witch’ at her old house was especially horrifying).
Finally, Chapter 12 sets the final pieces into motion, with an adult Henry, Tom, and Audra, all coming to Derry.
The third Interlude is about a premeditated mob execution of a criminal gang. If the last interlude was about It encouraging the violence of those actively committed to perpetuating oppression, this one is about It strengthening the violence inside “normal” people – influencing them to give in to their worst impulses and most sinister desires.
Part 4 – July Of 1958
Part 4 is much like Part 2 – the events of the past are framed as memories that the Losers recall as adults. But now they are not remembering apart; they are already together, reminiscing together, individually and collectively. And in the same way they, in the childhood events they are no longer separate either. They’ve already come together, they’re already there for each other.
Or at least most of them are – the first chapter shows Mike joining the rest, driven towards them by a racist attack against him by Henry and his gang. This causes him to run into the rest, who were already anticipating something about to happen in some supernatural way; and when they see him they all immediately know that their group is now complete. They then drive off the bullies in a cathartic rock fight; and soon enough they tell Mike what it is that brought them together, what they are dealing with and what they’re trying to do; and then Mike reveals that he, too, has met the monster that hides in their town.
A similar event will happen later, when Eddie is told to his horror that he doesn’t really have asthma, that his aspirators have just been flavored water and it was all due to his mother’s obsession; and is then promptly put into the hospital after a beating by Henry’s gang. Eddie telling his mother that he knows the truth, and that he won’t let her separate him from his friends, and then the rest visiting him at the hospital, all feels like a reaffirmation of the group’s connection.
Part 4 has a lot of events of that sort – at once moments children share, and also carrying an almost mythic elevation to them. A rock fight against bullies, which is also the moment when they know that their fellowship has become complete; the creation of an underground clubhouse in the Barrens, which they then use as a smoke-hole to have a vision of It arriving millions of years ago; visiting a friend at the hospital, while also feeling that the moment is a kind of oath-taking; going together to brave a haunted house, except that they know for a fact that it really is haunted and that they’re going there to try and kill a monster.
On the fact that It arrived, at first I didn’t really like it. Like I wrote above, the ideas of “It as the evil in the hearts of everyone”, “It as the hidden ugliness of the hometown”, and “It as all children’s fears”, were really appealing to me, so a specific and physical explanation for its origin felt like choosing a less interesting angle. But I’ve come around on it, in part because it will be somewhat justified near the end of the book when we learn just how utterly otherworldly It is. Besides which, those aspects I mentioned aren’t entirely gone, they’re still major elements of the story on a thematic level even if they aren’t the complete explanation on a literal one.
The fourth Interlude tells about a lumberjack who murders several people, seemingly as revenge for the murder of his fellow union members. This Interlude is mainly about two things. First, if the last two were about It preying on bigotry and hatred, and on people’s worst impulses, here it’s about It preying on people’s desire for justice and how it can be turned to a desire for revenge. Second, it deals with people ignoring awful things that are happening right in front of them. This is something that has been touched on before, and will become more major in Part 5 – many people just want to ignore bad things happening as much as they can.
It’s at some point during Part 4 that I start reading to the end. That is – on Saturday a little over a week ago I decided that I wanted to end it already, so I spent the entire day reading what remained for me, probably more than a third of the book.
Part 5 – The Ritual Of Chüd
Part 5 is where the interplay of memory and existence comes to fullness. As the events of both 1958 and 1985 come to a head as the Losers go to face It directly, the shift between past and present becomes constant. In most of this part’s chapters, sections freely go back and forth between childhood and adulthood, often with parallel or identical situations. Some of the times it was difficult to tell if a section was telling about the past or present, especially when I didn’t notice the timestamp at first.
In both of the times, the events kind of snowball, as the Losers are driven to the confrontation with It due to being attacked by Henry. In 1958, he and his gang chase Beverly and eventually corner all of them and chase them into the sewers; in 1985 Henry returns to Derry, almost kills Mike and then tries to kill Eddie before Eddie manages to kill him. (As they will realize later, It uses humans, like Henry, because you can’t use magic against them.) I’m not sure I like that Mike was kept out of the second confrontation, but thinking about it, it may be that only the ones who forgot and remembered were meant to face It again. And the moment when they help Mike survive from a distance was very sweet.
Most of Part 5 has a feeling of going beyond, or outside, space, time, and physicality. That is largely the result of the constant shifts between past and present, so that memory and reality become one and the same, and past and future happen all at once. It also comes from the fact that they descend into the sewers beneath the Barrens and the town, and then to the impossible caverns where It resides, leaving the familiar and defined world in favor of a dimension where you can lose your sense of time, space and self, defeating specters on faith and courage alone. It is also aided by the fact that as we progress, some of the moments’ timestamps become more abstracted, such as Early and Late rather than hours and minutes; and that some of the moments’ ‘placestamps’ don’t describe locations but rather people, or even emotions and experiences. And of course, it happens in the most literal sense when we see Bill, in both the past and the present, come face to face with It’s ‘true form’ – seemingly a giant spider, but even that hiding a form that humans cannot comprehend – and then get transported into a mental and extradimensional struggle against It.
At this point It is revealed in its fullest horror – as an impossible being, formless and boundless, beyond and outside existence. Just as in the description from Chapter 1 – “the apotheosis of all monsters”.
And yet… and yet Bill, alone in 1958, joined by Richie in 1985, is able to survive and prevail, by insisting on his own existence, by latching onto It’s weakness and fear and fighting back. The power of the spirit, of faith, of a child’s belief in the impossible, is also a child’s belief that they can do the impossible.
It’s at about this moment when rereading the second half of the book that I write this: “I just realized/remembered that I’m not supposed to write a review or an analysis, just a recounting of my experience.”
In 1958 Bill manages to get free and wound It, and the kids all have to escape as the chamber collapses so they aren’t able to finish It off. In 1985, Eddie rescues Bill and Richie from It’s clutches, but at the cost of his life.
In 1958 this leads to the books most infamous scene. The kids are lost in the sewers and aren’t sure if they can get out, so Beverly proposes that she have sex with each of the boys, and this will heal the bonds between them and allow them to find their way. For obvious reasons this is a difficult, uncomfortable moment, I myself had to skim most of it, and people have every right to have a problem with it. For me personally, I’m okay with it, as I was pleased to discover that, in my eyes at least, it’s what I’ve heard before. That is, that it isn’t anything justifying or pornographic, but rather an empathetic portrait of how a young girl, hurt by an abusive father and internalizing a lot of bad messages about relationships and sex from him and from society at large, jumps to the conclusion that sex is the answer to something before she’s ready for it, or able to fully understand it.
In 1985, Bill decides that he can’t let It get away, but he also discovers his wife, Audra, held in It’s lair, after she was captured and brought there by Tom, Beverly’s husband (who died from the shock of seeing It’s true form). He is convinced by the others to go after It, so he and Richie go after it, and in an extremely cathartic moment Bill is able to kill it (or at least its physical form in this world). This causes Derry to, well, basically die. The storm has been building (and townsfolk have been getting strange feelings) since they went down there, but now that It is dead all hell breaks loose: most of the town is flooded, the standpipe collapses and washes away an entire street, the ground opens up and swallows most of the downtown. ‘It was this town’ comes to fruition, as when It dies, the town begins to die.
The four Losers who survived the confrontation manage to get themselves and the catatonic Audra out of the sewers and back to the collapsing town. They are happy, and relieved, and sad for the people they’ve lost; and they are ready to move past it. And as children, all seven of them made it out, and then Stan convinced them to make a promise – that if it ever started again, they would come back to finish it. After which, they are never again together, all of them.
The final Interlude is not about the past – it’s about the future. Or perhaps about the lack of one? Mike, still recovering in the hospital, tells about how they are all ready to move on, and how the others, and him as well this time, are all beginning to forget everything. Which means they are also forgetting each other. The gradual loss of their memories is terrifying and heartbreaking to watch – and also, in a way, beautiful and happy. The fact that they are all forgetting, and even while they’re still in Derry, means that it’s truly over; and it means that they can move on. And again, in a way, memories make reality – if they all forget all of it, did it ever really happen?
I can’t do this book justice. I just can’t convey even a bit of everything that’s found in this long, complex story, or the experience of reading it.
Which is why I’m not even sure how I can tell you what happens in the epilogue, because there are so many details and feelings and threads and ideas that come to their conclusion to give this book such a beautiful ending, and how would I even begin?
Okay, fine. Suffice it to say, that Bill makes one last desperate attempt to get Audra out of her catatonic state, by trying to act like a child and do something reckless and joyful. This is interspersed with glimpses forward into the future, to Bill’s dreams and how in them he almost remembers what happens to him. It’s beautiful, and frightening, and melancholy, and heartbreaking, and inspiring, and…
… and before I read It, the only Stephen King books I had read were The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and the Dark Tower series. And the last glimpse forward here, which felt more like a statement about memory than a part of the story, reminded me of the warning King gave us before the epilogue and the end of The Dark Tower. And I wondered if it would end there without telling us if they survived…
… but yes, they do survive, and it works and Audra is brought back to life, and they can both live. And the book ends perfectly, by telling us how on some mornings, after waking from his dreams, Bill can almost remember his childhood and his friends.
Well, that’s the end of it. I’ve tried to give you all some of what I’ve thought and felt about this book, but, really, really, I can’t touch more than a small part of what’s in it, or even more than a part of what it’s made me feel. You really need to experience it for yourself.
Mainly, I think this is a beautiful book, wonderfully written and realized. One of those stories which are just so earnest and powerful and bold and encompassing, that nearly every step feels like it truly mattered, and made an impact.
I’ll always remember it.