This is the question the Mike Hanlon asks in the first interlude chapter of Stephen King’s novel "It". And what a "monster" (pardon the pun) of a novel "It" is (sorry again) that it took him four years to write. In fact I would be willing to bet my left testicle that this question was in fact the very seed, the simplistic what if? Snowball of an idea that grew and grew as King was compelled to produced this masterpiece of horror fiction.
Here’s the blurb from the inside cover of my copy:
Welcome to Derry, Maine….
It’s a Small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real….
They were just kids when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry. To face that nightmare without an end, and an evil with out a name.
I freely admit that was not always a big King fan. I’ve read precious few of his books. This has been something that I’m slowly working to rectify. Previous to this point I've read The Stand, Dreamcatcher, and the first four books in the Dark Tower series (The Gunslinger, A Drawing of Three, The Wasteland, and Wizard in Glass). Just last year I read both Bag of Bones, and On Writing.
With the exception of A Drawing of Three I enjoyed all of his novels very much. But it was the last two books I found extremely difficult to put down. The kind of books that grips you by the balls and keeps you up all-night reading. The kind of book that refuses to loosen its firm, and tenacious grip on your family jewels. Today I myself just as helplessly addicted now. That’s right, this novel has made of me an unapologetic Stephen King crackwhore and I will suffer no intervention to save my soul.
I think it was probably the fact that Bag of Bones and Dreamcatcher both touched on the town of Derry that compelled me to delve deeper into the mythos surrounding it. I knew that the Dark Tower series had its tendrils streching throughout many of King’s other stories. Yet I had no idea that such a great number of his stories seemed to intersect with that cursed place. As I explored more I discovered that the City was first really fleshed out in his novel "It" and that the town also played a significant role in the novel Insomnia.
Like some Lovecraftian antiquarian I felt compelled to unearth things better left alone and undisturbed. According to wikipedia, Derry was King’s homage to Lovecraft’s Arkham. If that’s true and I have no idea if it is, I can see, or more appropriately "feel" the haunting similarities between these two fictional New England towns. If any Call of Cthuhu Keeper worth his salt wanted to get the proper feel for how to run a town as troubled as Arkham, then reading "It" would be a great primer.
For what its worth, I’ve been enjoying the proverbial shit out of this book. I would urge anyone into King's other books or into horror in general to pick this one up and give it a shot. Worst case scenario, you’ll have lots of kindling for you’re next fire, or a great doorstop. But quite frankly I’d be surprised if it came to that. In fact I’m sure that this book will one day be hailed as an one more American classic.