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The Fixer
Bernard Malamud, Jonathan Safran Foer
The Wayward Bus
John Steinbeck


It - Stephen King i'm not sure where to start with this book...(he covers a lot in nearly 1100 pages).i think the first thing i want to say is that for years and years i've been telling people that stephen king is more than just some popular horror writer, that he's much more than that - firstly an amazing writer, possibly the best character developer out there, and secondly, i've been saying that he's not even that much a horror writer, that he's been boxed in. that his books aren't all that scary, that he does psychological thriller more than horror, and because they're so good everyone should read them. he's as good a writer as i remember, i reiterate everything i ever said about his writing and his character development. but, ooops. this book is really scary. really. fucking. scary.this story goes back and forth between 1958 and 1985, when the characters are around 11 or 12, and then again when they're around 38 or 39. it was not lost on me that entirely randomly, the first time i read this book i was around 12 and now i'm pretty close to 38, reading it for the second time. so much of the story is about the imagination and resiliency of children, and how adults find it too hard to integrate some things into their view of reality. trying to remember how i read this around 25 years ago, i feel like my younger and older self really mirror so much of what he wrote. for me personally, this was really poignant. i don't remember being that scared by this book when i first read it. certainly he chilled me, but i didn't have to stop reading at a certain point (in the story or the evening) in order to be able to sleep at night (like i did this time). i don't remember reading this book and jumping at noises or having to put it down and take breaks to keep myself from getting overly agitated (like i did this time).and what i found moderately scary last time was mostly not what i found actually really scary this time. (and what i found scary this time i'm sure went almost completely unnoticed the first time around.) and this is part of stephen king's brilliance (yep, that's right, i said it, brilliance) - this book is full of scary things that make up horror books and i'm sure that those are the things that gave me pause the first time around. but it's also full of things that adults *can* integrate into their view of reality, that are really, really scary (like domestic violence, like gay bashing, like bullies terrorizing kids, like child abuse). and he writes those things equally well. and so looking at it that way, there was *plenty* to be scared about while reading this book.this book is really, really well written, as is typical for stephen king. he has done an amazing job capturing childhood and what it's like to be in the world at that age. and has brought that well into adulthood (amazing character development, as usual) for these characters. i'm always impressed with his writing and i love his style, and he uses it to full benefit in this book. my only beef at all with it comes at the end and is probably why this book doesn't get more stars from me. first of all - and this isn't really a beef, it was just surprising - one of the things i like best about stephen king is that many of his books don't have this happy, let's wrap it all up nicely kind of ending. i was surprised when this one did. i thought it would have been very very easy for, even if bill killed It at the end, ben to have missed squashing an egg or two, and the evil could have lived on. i'm fine with a happy ending, i just didn't expect it from him in this story, since It had been there since the beginning of time. my real beef, though, is in the group sex scene the friends used as a method of bonding when they were young. seemed like there could have been a different way for them to bond at that point. even i could think of something, so i'm certain stephen king could have. and really, there wasn't even a reason for them to need to rebond together at that point, so it's like he threw that in just to enable the scene, which was so out of place anyway. and then - and this is not as big a deal for me - if they all forget what happened and derry and each other so quickly, how exactly are ben and bev supposed to be together? what shared past will they build their relationship on? what will they say when people asked how they met, since they won't remember? also, and again this isn't a big deal, but we're supposed to believe that this thing has been around since the inception of the entire world and this is the only time in its history that it has eggs, about to become offspring? how in the world is it possible for this creature to get knocked up? but if it's somehow possible, how is this the first time that it's happened?but things i like, besides the great writing and amazing characterizations: the magic (literal magic and the power it has) of childhood and believing in things bigger than yourself. the idea and the rationale of eddie's mom giving him "medicine" that she knew he didn't need. the strength of friendship and what that can give a person. the very real portrayal of everything other than pennywise, which admittedly felt awfully real while reading. the list goes on and on. if you don't need to sleep for a few nights, take up this book! if you scare easily, though, be warned!one of the many passages that struck me when reading as just lovely, and something most people wouldn't associate with stephen king:"...in the heart of winter when the light outside seemed yellow-sleepy, like a cat curled up on a sofa..."and a passage that made me sing inside because it showed me that stephen king understands even more than i thought he did about oppression (his books are full of characters who are homophobic, racist, sexist, etc which can make a reader a little uncomfortable - is this the character or the author talking??) and that puts those questions to rest for anyone who reads closely:"Eventually they came, as she had known they would, and to her horror she saw that one of them was a nigger. Not that she had anything against niggers; she thought they had every right to ride where they wanted to on the buses down south, and eat at white lunch-counters, and should not be made to sit in nigger heaven at the movies unless they bothered white(women)people, but she also believed firmly in what she called the Bird Theory: Blackbirds flew with other blackbirds, not with the robins."