Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Review: Mr. B. Gone

Speaking of authors (if you read the previous post), I purposely left out one author from the list: Clive Barker. Before I ever knew that Clive was, like myself, a gay man, I had long been enthralled by his writing. The Hellbound Heart, a novella that became the basis of the Hellraiser movies, was a piquant thriller and a truly original story to the young boy I was when I read it first. His novels Weaveworld, Imajica, and The Great And Secret Show will forever be among my favorite fantasy/horror constructs.

And I am sorely disappointed by his latest book, Mr. B. Gone.

Barker has spent the last decade or so writing children's books, and it's reflected in this new attempt at a horror outing. Perhaps it's because of his previous successes--his heretofore masterpieces--that the bar for Barker is set so high. But Mr. B. Gone is the first Barker novel I'll not bother to read a second time. And that itself speaks volumes.

True, it's a shorter novel, but even more length wouldn't have added any depth to this tale. There are far too many entreaties by Mr. B. Gone himself; too many appeals. I understand that they are intended to tie together at the end, by exemplifying the different tacks taken by the demon. They fail. The story lacks too much in comparison to Barker's previous achievements, with few characters, few scenes, nothing I'd consider "horror," and little to no subtlety in the plot. There are a few graphic scenes, but they feel inserted almost as an afterthought, as if Barker wrote the protagonist's pleas, then filled in with a backstory along the way. It's as if Barker is still in transition from writing children's novels, and this is a children's horror novel, if such a thing can exist.


Tim said...

I love Clive Barker too, sometimes it takes a bit to get in the mood to launch yourself into his stories but it's usually worth it. I've been liking his children's stories a lot but sometimes like to go back and read "the great and secret show" just for some depth and perspective.
To bad about his latest book not thrilling you though, maybe I'll have to give it a read thru on my own.

Question did you suspect him of being gay after you read his books? I did after reading the "books of blood" specifically the story, "the cities".

Jamie said...

Well, "suspect" wouldn't be the right word. I think it's been common knowledge for quite some time now.

There's a story in one of the Books of Blood with a pretty graphic gay sex scene in a german forest. I think that was my first clue, years ago.

But I understood that he was out.