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What I'm Thankful For

WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR 11.27.10

Movie News, What I'm Thankful ForJoshua Miller5 Comments


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11.27.10
By Joshua Miller (Facebook Page)

What I'm Thankful For:

Stephen King's It.



I was not an avid reader as a kid. I was duly infatuated with all the normal children's lit - Dr. Suess, Mercer Mayer, Berenstain Bears, Christopher van Allsburg - but my enjoyment was also heavily focused on the artwork. Once I reached the developmental stage where the books being given to me featured less and less artwork, my interest markedly dropped. Somewhere during the Beverly Cleary phase I completely checked out. So while my contemporaries were reading The Phantom Tollbooth and graduating on to A Wrinkle in Time and the Narnia series, I was rapidly becoming a lil' philistine. In my defense I wasn't completely wasting my time. It was during this period that I discovered a proclivity for creative endeavors, and began excelling in art and storytelling. Unfortunately, no one told me the old adage, "You should never write more than you read."

It seems adorably comical to look back on it now, given the meager span of years we're ultimately talking about here, but when I was in sixth grade I had a weird moment of truth where I realized that everyone I admired and respected - dad, older brothers and sister, creative heroes - were all avid readers and talked regularly of books. I didn't read shit. Hell, I often only skimmed the word bubbles in the comic books that I bought largely just to study the drawing styles.

I decided things needed to change. I was going to become a reader!

Why on Earth I chose Stephen King's It to be my gateway, I have no fucking clue. My older sister was a King fan, and she had once kept me rapt with excitement and terror by reading Salem's Lot aloud to me on a family road trip. So King seemed cool. And I recall being both frightened and fascinated by It's creepy cover illustration, the simplicity of those green claws poking from the storm drain grating was something out of my nightmares. But I think size played a major part in my decision too. After all, I was trying to make up for what I saw as a wasted life. In other words, I was wildly overcompensating.

Of course, It is the exact opposite of the kind of book a young reader should tackle, as King's love of rambling was busting out in great effect in the novel. Not to mention the subject matter is a bit much for a sixth grader (though I was already well versed in R-rated cinema at the time). But I felt pretty badass bringing the book to school. "You're reading that?!" I'd act cool, conveniently leaving out what a monster chore reading the damn thing was proving. It was my Everest. I had to finish it. It took dedication, reading a little bit here and little bit there before my brain turned to mush or I fell asleep. All told it probably took me over a month to finish the beast. But I finished it.

I didn't dare pick up another book for a while.

But once my mental bruises had healed, I returned to the ring. Jurassic Park had hit shelves, and that proved much easier to handle for a sixth grader. Plus it had dinosaurs. Soon I was swiping more of my sister's King books, finding shorter ones (and better ones). Then I took her The Hobbit. Then junior high rolled around and I was assigned Animal Farm - the first book to truly blow my mind. Then I discovered Vonnegut, who became the first author I obsessed over. And a good portion of my meager income has been blown in used books stores and on Amazon ever since.

In some ways picking It as my first "adult" book was a great idea, because after that even a 500 page book seemed slight. So thank you, Stephen King and thank you It, for bustin' my literary cherry.