While Clive Barker first and
foremost is a writer and novelist, he shot to worldwide fame with
the release of 1987’s Hellraiser, based on his novella The
Hellbound Heart from the same year. Not only was the movie unlike
any other horror movies that had come before it; Hellraiser introduced
one of the most memorable, iconic and enigmatic charaters on the
horror scene, period: the notorious Pinhead. Clive also injected
clever dialogue and true, original plot into the movie (which
he also directed), and the film’s cult status was inevitable.
Since then Clive has published a host of novels, such as: The
imaginative Weaveworld; Cabal, where us humans are shown for the
monsters we are; the sprawling The Great and Secret Show and Everville,
together forming the “Books of the Art”; The Thief
of Always, which echoes the writing of other brilliant authors
such as Neil Gaiman; and Galilee, which takes American history
and runs with it (quite fast and far). The collection Books of
Blood is also important as it meant immediate success for Clive
Barker in the world of literary horror, nabbing both the World
Fantasy Award as well as the British Fantasy Award.
Most of his novels have a number of things in common, such the
way supernatural beings have everyday and sometimes mundane issues
– they talk, think, plan, bicker, doubt themselves, love
and fight. And more often than not, in terms of their looks, they’re
pretty strange and original. Clive Barker also never shies away
from topics such as murder, blood, orgies and sex, which typically
play a great role in his works and usually are shown in all their
(literal) details. Violence and suffering follows the same rule
– expect a no-hold-barred approach to pain. As for plots,
they’re often bigger than life; his books are brimming with
protagonists and storylines. Clive Barker’s writing is not
for the queasy or narrow-minded.
Another stand-out feature of Clive Barker is his writing itself
– his prose. Clive is a hugely talented author who doesn’t
underestimate his audience’s reading skills, and his books
are beautifully written – a nice contrast to his often gruesome
tales. Along with the sometimes complex plots, this means that
some books can be challenging, but Clive doesn’t use those
pretty words for nothing. It’s all about setting an atmosphere
– the unique Barker tone, if you will – so once you’ve
been sucked in by his storytelling, you won’t notice the
passages of “flowery” writing.
If you’re new to Clive Barker and want a few good starting
points, try the Books of Blood collection or Cabal. If you’re
up for something more meaty, go for The Great and Secret Show
And brace yourself.
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