Andy Muschietti’s It Struggles with Adaptation

There is no hard and fast rule for parsing out the relationship between literary sources and cinematic adaptations. Context is key. When it comes to Andy Muschietti’s It (loosely based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel), the correspondence between versions is too complicated and vital to ignore. The novel uses a network of perspectives and interwoven timelines to translate the individual experiences of seven alienated people (the self-proclaimed “Losers’ Club”). These characters bond over their shared traumas and work together to defeat It, a malicious shape-shifter occupying the sewer system of their small home city, Derry. In the time that elapses between the characters’ childhood and adulthood confrontations with It, they uniformly repress and forget the past. King’s decision to oscillate between timelines and points of view is not only a structural choice, but it’s also crucial to his book’s allegorical concerns: the titular “It” functions as a socially denied and repressed object of violence (manifesting often in the form of misogyny, racism and homophobia), while also taking on the shape of horror built into the social-collective unconscious. King takes matters further by attributing It and its foil (the turtle) with cosmic qualities, suggesting that humankind’s ugliest sociohistorical trends are the work of some twisted higher order. Questions of King’s “literary merit” still occasionally haunt discussions of his work, but It demonstrates the author’s ability to meaningfully deconstruct his own genre of choice while also employing techniques specific to modernism, postmodernism and realist fiction — and this is not to mention the book’s complex philosophical and critical questions, many of which arise from disturbing engagements with psychoanalytic thought.

Read the full review in Vague Visages.

Interviewed on Leo X. Robertson’s Podcast, LOSING THE PLOT

This episode’s guest is Mike Thorn, author of the forthcoming horror short story collection, “Darkest Hours”, out in November with Unnerving: We talk about the creative process, the influence of music and film, and the horror of being alive today!! You can find Mike here! If you’re a reader, writer, listener, editor, anyone […]

via New Losing the Plot, with Mike Thorn! — Leo X. Robertson

S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You Explores the Writer’s Inner World

Like many really good novels, S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You can’t easily be summarized in one sentence. If someone were to ask me “what is it about?”, I imagine I could competently outline the plot: After Greta’s washed-up crime-writing instructor Lee Todd viciously criticizes her fiction submission, she moves to Seattle and pursues a short-lived journalism career, before she’s murdered in a manner that’s assumed to be a Cobain-copycat suicide. Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but there’s the gist. But in terms of plot, this novel reads more as a deconstruction or a fun exegesis than as a simple transcription of Event A, followed by Event B, etc. The novel mixes up chronology and even point of view, peppering Lee Todd’s dogmatic writing rules throughout, before almost always coyly breaking said rules within the next handful of pages.

Read my full review in “Thorn’s Thoughts,” a column on Unnerving Magazine‘s website.

Thorn’s Thoughts: Dark Screams Volume Seven

Dark Screams: Volume Seven is one of those rare short story collections that provides not only a wide variety of styles, voices and plots, but also a clear thematic unity. To be sure, this book has been carefully and thoughtfully assembled. Released by premier horror press Cemetery Dance, it comes as no surprise that the names on the cover read almost like a “who’s who” of genre superstars. Consider the editors: Brian James Freeman’s work has been published by a number of presses, including Warner Books, Leisure, Borderlands Press, and Book-of-the-Month Club, and Richard Chizmar recently collaborated on the novella Gwendy’s Button Box with Stephen King. I cite these credentials as evidence for a reason: Freeman and Chizmar work at the vital center of contemporary mainstream American genre fiction.

Read the full review on Unnerving Magazine‘s website.

New Story “Sabbatical” in Dark Moon Digest #28

My story “Sabbatical,” about a dissertation-writing reprieve gone horrifically awry, is now available in Dark Moon Digest #28.

Issue synopsis: In the twenty-eighth issue of Dark Moon Digest: a hardware store offers a rewards program you can’t refuse; an Internet meme goes viral in more ways than one; a little girl gets a new pet; a woman loses her sense of identity; a man and woman reluctantly do their job; a starlet gets more than she bargains for; a father gives his son a special 18th birthday present; and two college students isolate themselves in a cabin in the woods to finish their dissertations. Fiction by Tom W. Miller, Patrick Lacey, Phillip A. Myers, Shannon Lawrence, E. M. Hurst, Robert Dean, Ryan C. Bradley, and Mike Thorn. Columns by Jay Wilburn and George Lea, and reviews of Entropy in Bloom by Jeremy Robert Johnson and Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King.

The issue is available to order here.