Can't sleep, clown will eat me. Can't sleep, clown will eat me.
I discovered Stephen King at a tender age. And while I'm not going to stand here all day defending his books or debating the merits or otherwise of literary fiction vs popular fiction - I'm not ashamed to admit that I once immensely enjoyed the King.
I spent many a night quivering under the duvet, convinced that Pennywise the clown was just waiting for the perfect opportunity (when the lights were off, god, the lights!) to appear from under the bed and drag me down to the sewers by the ankles.
As a kid, I learned many valuable lessons from It. Such as:
1. Never trust a clown
2. Like in Zombieland, cardio cardio cardio
3. Don't make a blood oath
4. If you come from a town where mysterious deaths occur every 27 years and manage to escape, for heaven's sake, don't go back!
5. Evil clowns lay eggs
In all seriousness though, King has published some terrible books - especially in the latter years. But the reason I like It is because it encapsulates the best of the horror genre for me. There's mystical, magical ritual, a villain that can frankly make a kid wee their pants in terror, bloodshed and violence, goodies and baddies, and psychological trickery.
There are some snobbish reading folk who will condemn horror because it's popular and mainstream, but I always think the main purpose of reading for most people is for pleasure. For most ordinary people coming home from a hard day at work, where they most likely will have to put in a second shift with the family, all they require from fiction is that it gives them an escape to another world. Whether that world has an evil clown cackling away in the sewers, or is located in a chocolate shop in France, that should be up to the desire of the reader.
The beauty of It, I think, lies not so much in the plot - which is rich enough on its own - but on the characters. Creating distinct characters is something that many authors struggle with, because if you are one person writing about many, it can be difficult not letting your own voice seep through the characters. King is a master of dialogue, and most of his characters speak in a convincing manner.
What do you think of Stephen King? Have you read It?
* Next week's book club title is Chocolat, by Joanne Harris.
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