Master List of Reviews

 

Programming Note:

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Spring

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“IT” (Post 4/9)

05

It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9


Chapter 6: One of the Missing: A Tale From the Summer of ’58

[122] Reference:

“The poor little guy couldn’t color his Mr. Do safety poster.”

(p.255)

I found a listing on Amazon for a 1943 book titled “Mr. Do and Mr. Don’t Present ‘Safety’ Starring Roy Raccoon and Rob Rabbit”, but no other information.

 

[123]

“I never meant to kill him.”

“Did he say anything to you before he passed out?” Whitsun asked.

“He said, ‘Stop daddy, I’m sorry, I love you,’” Macklin replied.

“Did you stop?”

“Eventually,” Macklin said. He then began to weep.

(p.256)

Similar to the earlier exchange with Don and Hagarty (Post 1, note [28]) but still damn good. Continue reading

“IT” (Post 3/9)

04

It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Derry: The First Interlude

Chapter 4

Chapter 5


Derry: The First Interlude

[79] The First Interlude’s introduction says that these parts are drawn from a history by Mike Hanlon. Going along with the mood set in Post 2, note [50], we’re led to think Mike is going to die:

This is an unpublished set of notes (…) found in the Derry Public Library vault.

(p.147)

If it was found in a vault, we assume Mike wasn’t around to show/explain it to anyone. Mike survives to the end of It but implies he’s going to leave Derry soon. We’re led to believe that he left these notes on purpose or possibly forgot they were even there (his memory of events is already fading). This whole memory-fading thing is stupid (we’ll talk about it more in the wrap-up in Post 9) and raises more questions than it answers. Along with losing memories of each other and events in Derry, Mike finds that even the contact information for the other Loser’s Club members is fading from his address book. Doesn’t this mean his Interlude notes would fade? Or the newspaper photo of Bill and Beverly that Bill supposedly keeps in his wallet for years? How do Beverly and Ben maintain their relationship if they can’t remember how they met? Continue reading

“IT” (Post 2/9)

03

It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this post, we’ll cover:

Chapter 3


Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls (1985)

[33]

It had not just been a novel, she told her mother later; it had been a horrorbook. She said it just that way, all one word, the way she would have said sexbook.

(p.40)

[34] Reference:

The country club in the upstate town of Glointon, New York.

(p.42)

Invented town.

[35]

Wanting to feel angry and not being able to feel angry – the anger came only later, when it didn’t matter.

(p.42)

Continue reading

“IT” (Post 1/9)

02

IT Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2


[1] Dedication page:

Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.

(p.vii)

[2] Reference:

“This old town been home long as I remember

This town gonna be here long after I’m gone.

East side west side take a close look ‘round her

You been down but you’re still in my bones.”

The Michael Stanley Band

(p.viii)

Michael Stanley (b.1948) is an American singer-songwriter and radio personality. Both as a solo artist and with the Michael Stanley Band, his brand of heartland rock was popular in Cleveland and around the American Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s.

The band’s last Top 40 hit was “My Town” in 1983.

[3] The second quote on the opening page is by George Seferis. Is was also used in the Prologue of Salem’s Lot (note [1]) and is from the poem “The Return of the Exile”:

“Old friend, what are you looking for?

After those many years abroad you come

With images you tended

Under foreign skies

Far away from your own land.”

(p.viii) Continue reading

“IT” Month Introduction

01

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1: Chapters 1 – 2

Post 2: Chapter 3

Post 3: Derry: The First Interlude; Chapter 4 – 5

Post 4: Chapters 6 – 9

Post 5 [December 15]: Derry: The Second Interlude; Chapter 10

Post 6 [December 19]: Chapters 11 – 12

Post 7 [December 22]: Derry: The Third Interlude; Chapters 13 – 15

Post 8 [December 26]: Chapters 16 – 18

Post 9 [December 29]: Derry: The Fourth Interlude; Chapters 19-23; Derry: The Last Interlude; Epilogue


Stephen King’s best epic, though no longer my pick for his best book (September Top 10 list be damned). I read a 2017 Scribner edition with a movie tie-in cover. It’s a great pressing; sturdy and a good size and fairly priced (under $10 last I checked).

4 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 3 

Seen the Movie: 1990 mini-series yes; 2017 feature yes.

The Plot:

A monstrous, immortal force living in Derry, Maine emerges in cycles, feeding on and fueling hate and fear.

It, more than The Dark Tower series, is the essence and culmination of Stephen King. It’s quite an undertaking for a reader; most editions come in at over 1,100 pages, and it’s best enjoyed in as few sittings as possible. Basically, don’t try this one unless you can get through at least 100 pages every time you open it. It doesn’t lend itself to short bursts; you’ll lose the thread and atmosphere if you let it sit at all.

The book is divided into five parts with Derry Interludes between. The main timeline moves back and forth between the late 1950s and late 1980s (and the Interludes go back to the 1800s), but King controls the characters and plot with a minimum of confusion. Still, it’s not a bad idea to watch at least one of the film versions before you read the book. Having a handle on the seven lead characters (the “Loser’s Club”) and a basic understanding of the structure puts you in a good place without spoiling all the fun.

King plays some neat tricks in the narrative; he alludes to future events as though the reader already knows the whole story, which adds an interesting interactive aspect to multiple readings – we have these same hazy memories of the same main points. When the characters vaguely remember the bullies, the house on Neibolt Street, the Standpipe, the Barrens, so do we.

Though, I think two readings is the sweet spot for It. This reading became a bit of a slog…

“Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends”

Brothers in Battle

[Explanation of Reading Journal/Entries]


2007 memoir by “Wild Bill” Guarnere and “Babe” Heffron, two members of the 101st Airborne Division featured in Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers (and the 2001 HBO miniseries). I read a first edition hardcover.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 1

Seen the Movie: I’m calling the Band of Brothers mini-series the film version and yes, I’ve seen it several times.

Brothers in Battle was constructed from taped interviews between the veterans and journalist Robyn Post. Post does a fantastic job editing the dialogue and stories in a natural way, capturing Guarnere and Heffron’s voices and friendship in a way that each writing alone would have missed.

It’s a great supplement for fans of Ambrose’s book and the mini-series, filling in edges of the story and emphasizing the personalities, relationships, and motivations of these men. Continue reading

“Tales From Watership Down”

Tales From Watership

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]


Richard Adams’ sort-of sequel/sort-of short story companion to Watership Down, published in 1996. I read a battered old 95-cent Avon paperback.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 1

Tales is divided into three parts. Part 1 consists of one-shot short stories about legendary rabbit El-ahrairah. Part 2 tells the longer story of El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle’s return to their own warren after meeting the Black Rabbit. And Part 3 continues the story of Hazel and the Watership Down warren though their first winter and their interactions with other warrens.

In Watership Down, the “current” story of Hazel’s group was effortlessly interwoven with tales of El-ahrairah. I think Adams would have done the same thing here if he had written a full story for Hazel. But Part 3 has a woefully unfinished, published-from-a-dead-author’s-notes feel (which wasn’t the case at all). It introduces Flyairth, a doe who had been Chief Rabbit of a doe-led warren and hints excessively that the Watership warren is approaching a terrible encounter with the White Blindness and/or men, but Flyairth drops out of the story and no doom ever befalls the warren. They just putter around for a couple of chapters before the book ends.

The lack of a terrible climax is a pity (as odd as that sounds to people who love the characters); the best parts of Tales are when Adams goes dark: El-ahrairah’s near-death experience in “The Hole in the Sky”, a terrible rabbit-murder being played out through eternity in “The Rabbit’s Ghost Story,” and the massacre of an entire peaceful warren in “The Story of the Terrible Hay-Making.”

Ultimately, these are disjointed and incomplete sections for what could have been a good, very dark sequel to Watership Down.

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