30 Days of Books – Day 19 – Favorite Book Turned Into A Movie

This one required some thought because I wanted to pick a good book that was turned into an enjoyable movie. That left out White Oleander (no great loss, since I already used it). Though I adore Stand By Me I haven’t actually read the novella it was adapted from. The Princess Bride is a wonderful film but a ponderous novel. That narrowed it down to Pride and Prejudice (BBC version with Colin Firth, of course) or

It, Stephen King

I have been a Stephen King fan since I was but a wee lass: I pretended I was Charlie from Firestarter as a toddler and made mom stop driving before eight every night of a road trip to catch the Tommyknockers miniseries as it aired, but it was It that kicked off my mission to read every King novel I could lay my hands on. This is one of the better King miniseries, if not the best. There could be no Pennywise more creepily perfect than Tim Curry. The novel is a monstrous tome, and the miniseries captured the feeling of it at every point, rather than re-creating it in painstaking detail. No mean feat: It is very much a psychological scare, playing off the unique terrors of each of its heroes and victims, which is not an easy thing to convey visually.

As for the novel itself, despite  the action being driven by ageless evil that preys on children (and the young-at-heart), it reads like a love letter to King’s childhood. Summer days spent damming creeks and catching a monster movie matinee, silver bikes and inhalers rendered talismans through sheer belief in their power, the crystalline purity of a first crush. This youthful intensity of spirit and faith provides a bright counterpoint to the monster attacking children in the form of their most baseless fears, the fears that are the most powerful (and perhaps the most enduring).

The climax is one that sticks out to me above all of King’s other novels, for what it represents in terms of good and evil, courage, faith, and where humanity fits in. It’s deep, man. The miniseries managed something pretty good, but that part of the novel is just something that can’t translate to a visual medium.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who has dismissed King for any reason: too commercial, gore porn, “genre” writer. If you can’t see past the blood and guts, you are really missing out.

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10 People You Don’t Want to be in a Stephen King Novel

10. A Man of the Law: Things never seem to work out well for lawmen in Stephen King novels. In fact, they often enjoy “ensign redshirt” status: sent to check out the Big Bad, only to be added to the mounting list of casualties. For some reason this only applies to lawmen, female officers have plenty of uncomfortable situations but nothing compared to what happens to the fellas.

F’rinstance:

  • Chief Howard “Duke” Perkins, Under the Dome
  • Constable Lander Neary, Cycle of the Werewolf
  • A nameless Colorado State Trooper, Misery

9. A Fat Woman: In many Stephen King novels there is at least one fat woman, often of the extremely lazy variety, who meets with a grisly end. These characters are often stupid in addition to being fat, and they often bring their deaths upon themselves.

  • Rebecca Paulson, The Tommyknockers
  • Cora Rusk and Myra Evans, Needful Things

8. A Grandfatherly Type: Sometimes actually the grandfather of a main character, other times just elderly men, these poor fellows have already been through the ringer and it ain’t over yet. Several kindly old gentlemen in King’s novels knowingly put themselves in harm’s way trying to save/help a main character. 

  • Ev Hillman, The Tommyknockers
  • Jud Crandall, Pet Sematary
  • Don Gaffney, The Langoliers

7. A Younger Brother: Life as a younger sibling is always tough: never getting first pick, getting left behind on all the really good adventures; but in a Stephen King story it’s worse than you ever imagined. One might have one’s arm ripped off, be run over by a truck (then buried, dug up, buried again, and killed again by your own father), or be sent to an alien planet in another dimension. Serves you right for breaking the crayons.

  • Georgie Denbrough, It
  • David Brown, The Tommyknockers
  • Gage Creed, Pet Sematary

6. An Abusive Husband: Not that this is high on my list of things to be in any case, but King has a history of seeing that the handsy jerks get what’s coming to them.

  • Joe St. George, Dolores Claiborne
  • Tom Rogan, It
  • Danforth “Buster” Keeton, Needful Things

5. A Man of the Cloth: This is another gender-specific affliction. While female spiritual leaders end up all right in the end, and are even instrumental to salvation, the men aren’t so lucky. To be a male spiritual leader in a King tale is to be troubled, insane, or downright sheisty. Multiple stories include a Priest or Minister who tries to turn it around and do the right thing, only to find it is too late for redemption.

  • Father Callahan, ‘Salem’s Lot
  • Reverend Lester Coggins, Under the Dome
  • Reverend Lester Lowe (maybe King knew a really crappy Lester?), Cycle of the Werewolf

4. A Person With A Sensory Disability: Finally, some gender-equality! The deaf or blind are guaranteed something spectacular like psychic ability or intended-savior status, but they will definitely die (violently).

  • Dinah Bellman, The Langoliers
  • Nick Andross, The Stand

3. A Socially Awkward Person: Life is just one humiliation after another until you kill everyone! Following which you are killed by the one person who gave you the time of day.

  • Carrietta “Carrie” White, Carrie
  • Harold Lauder, The Stand

2. A Writer: Drunk, delusional, doomed, or all three this particular occupation can only mean suffering and lots of it. One thing is for sure: the writer is Afflicted. However, it’s a crapshoot whether they are causing or receiving the suffering (and again, sometimes it’s both).

  • Paul Sheldon, Misery
  • Roberta “Bobbi” Anderson and James Eric “Gard” Gardener, The Tommyknockers
  • Mike Noonan, Bag of Bones
  • Thad Beaumont, The Dark Half
  • Mort Rainey; Secret Window, Secret Garden
  • Ben Mears, ‘Salem’s Lot

And the number one absolute worst thing to be in a Stephen King novel is:

1. The Everyman: This poor sap is just an Average Joe trying to get by without hurting anyone, but he somehow ends up in the middle of everything. He might be persecuted, see everyone he loves die around him, sit-half starved with a broken leg in the desert for weeks hoping the apocalypse doesn’t happen, he might be beset from the outside with mysterious deadly monsters and from the inside with fanatics. Worst of all, he will live to tell the tale and get to suffer with the memories for the rest of his days. Couldn’t pay me to be the Everyman.

  • Gordie LaChance, The Body
  • Stuart Redman, The Stand
  • Dale Barbara, Under the Dome
  • David Drayton, The Mist
  • Bill Denbrough, It

Now, all of this may have you asking “Well, if I ever were a character in a Stephen King novel, I mean, you know, for the sake of argument…what is it safest to be?

The answer:

The Little Girl or The Loudmouth