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  1. Welcome to my study on Clive Barker. Today, we will be looking at Chapter 1 of the Damnation Game, Providence.

    "After serving six years of his sentence at Wandsworth, Marty Strauss was used to waiting. He waited to wash and shave himself every morning; he waited to eat, he waited to defecate; he waited for freedom." - The opening of Scene 5, Clive Barker's The Damnation Game.

    In the opening sentence (which is beautifully crafted by the way) we meet the hero of the story, Marty Strauss.

    Marty is a prisoner who is in prison for some crime he committed while trying to pay back some gambling debts (It is hinted at being theft related.) The opening chapter has Marty being summoned to a private meeting by the Warden. At this meeting, Marty meets Mr. Toy.

    Mr. Toy works for a man by the name of Joseph Whitehead, a rich businessman, and is looking for a prisoner to act as Mr. Whitehead's personal bodyguard. At first, Marty is not that interested in the job (which would provide him with an early release) but after some consideration, Marty decides he wants the job.

    Mr. Toy finishes the interview and will let Marty know of his decision.

    While Marty waits a few days to find out if he got the job or not, Marty's wife Charmaine comes to visit. Charmaine wants to get a divorce and wants to know how they should split the money between the two. Marty tells Charmaine to keep everything and apologizes for the hurt he has caused her due to his imprisonment.

    About 2 weeks later, the warden summons Marty and tells him that he's got the job, and will be released from prison in a few days.

    The night before his release, Marty experiences a bizarre dream but doesn't think much of it.

    The next day, Mr. Toy and Luther, a limo driver, pick up Marty.

    On the way, they come across a car accident that has a fatality. To match the context of the scene, Barker uses this brilliant simile.

    'The procession of cars slowed, like a line of mourners pausing to glance into a coffin." -Damnation Game, scene 9.

    As the group drives by, Marty sees a woman madly clapping at the scene of her own accident.

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    There are 2 things I took note of in this chapter.

    1. The Motif of being a Gambler and Thief becomes apparent in this chapter. I think Motifs (A repeating image, phrase, or idea) are a cool concept more writers should use.

    2. I really like Barker's use of a simile at the end of the chapter. I noticed that, Grammatically, an Absolute phrase follows the 'like' and I might start playing around with this construction in my own writing.

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    This concludes my look at chapter 1 for The Damnation Game.

    If you have a thought or a question, please leave a like or comment!

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  2. Welcome to part 33 of my study on Clive Barker. Today, we will be looking at his first novel, The Damnation Game.

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    The Damnation Game is a Faustus story, a story about a man who makes a pact with the devil.

    The story begins with a Character simply called 'The Thief' looking for a person by the title of 'The Card player.' 'The Card player' is a rumored figure is said to never have lost a poker game. The Thief's motivation for wanting to play and beat 'The Card Player' is simply that he wants to dethrone 'the king.'

    The setting for the prologue takes places in Warsaw just after being liberated from Nazi control by the Russians. Barker paints a gruesome picture of the city as a place where women are raped, then killed if they complain, children are sold like cattle, gambling of all sorts take place, and C. Marlow's play 'Doctor Faustus' plays nightly (see that nice hint to what type of story this is going to be?)

    As The Thief looks through the city trying to find The Cardplayer, he sees some disturbing graffiti of people who've painted pictures of the Card player (An idea used in his short story, The Forbidden) and becomes somewhat afraid.

    He eventually finds a Russian Soldier who has played against The Card player called Mamoulian. The Solider is terrified to even talk about the poker game and tells the Thief not to seek him out. The soldier explains he is transferring out of the city as soon as possible but does tell the Thief where he can find Mamoulian.

    A few days later, while stilling trying to find Mamoulian, The thief learns that the soldier had his throat slit and his body was found floating down a river of flaming shit (A result that occurred after a tank fired a shell into the sewer lines.)

    The Theif eventually finds a woman who will take him to Mamoulian. The woman is described as having a mutilated face, a beautiful body, and would be naked if not for the giant fur coat she wears around herself.

    The prologue ends The Thief meeting Mamoulian and the two sitting down to play poker against each other.
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    There are a lot of great ideas that occur within this Prologue that I'd made note of and would use myself in my own writing.

    1. Referencing the canon the story is based on by introducing it into the story (Like how the play Dr. Faustus appears in the opening scene.)

    2. The use of Graffiti as a way to hint at the monstrous beings that exist in the world.

    3. This one I've already began to incorporate into my work, but often, my characters don't have names, they have titles Examples: The Thief, The Card player.

    4. Creating hell-like scenes using logical events. (A river of flaming shit is a hell-like scene. The idea that a tank blasting into a sewer line is the cause of this is a very logical event. I might use this formula to create my own type of Horror-based Rhetoric.)

    5. Creating a Juxtaposition of having a beautiful woman with a mutilated face are the type of images I strive for. Juxtapositions, paradoxes, and compare & contrast are a big factor in my own writing, and I love it when I see other writers do such things.

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    This concludes my look at the Prologue for The Damnation Game.

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  3. Ladies and Gentlemen, we've made it to the last story in Clive Barker's Books of Blood short story collection. Today we will be looking at the epilogue story, On Jerusalem Street.

    The epilogue is only a few pages long and tells of the last moments of McNeal, the young man from the first story whose body the ghost carved with stories into. He's been tracked down by a man by the name of Wyburd, who plans on flaying McNeal and turning his skin into an actual book.

    Wyburd kills and skins McNeal, but before he can reap his award, the ghost return and seek their revenge on him.

    In the afterlife, McNeal and Wyburd walk side by side down the highway of the dead. A fitting ending to this collection of stories.

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    This concludes my look at Clive Barker's Books of Blood. I've learned a lot from this series, and it has inspired me to write my own, small collection of short stories. I look forward to what other things Clive Barker can teach me as I continue to work through his canon.

    The next work of Clive Barker's we will be looking at will be his first novel, The Damnation Game.


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  4. Welcome to part 31 of my study on Clive Barker. Today, we will be looking at his short story The Last Illusion.

    The Last Illusion introduces Clive Barker's second most famous character (his first being the Cenobite Pinhead) Harry D'Amour. Harry is a private detective that handles supernatural and occult-based cases. In the story, Harry is hired to corpse-watch the body of a man named Swann. Swann is a magician that made a deal with a devil; his soul for magical powers.

    Harry must protect the body from a group of demons who wish to claim it (and in the process taking Swann's soul to hell). Harry learns that there is a loop-hole in Swann's 'contract' that might save Swann's soul. If the demons do not claim the body after a certain time-frame, the body can be cremated, which voids the demon's claims on Swann's soul.

    During his struggle, Harry squares off against a demon called 'The Castrato,' a rotting corpse imbued with bright, white light. After defeating the demon, Harry hides the corpse at a local funeral home and dials up the director, hoping they can burn the body before the demon's find them.

    The lead demon, Mr. Butterfield, finds Harry and unleashes a new group of demons upon Harry, a marching band of twisted monsters that use human organs as their instruments.

    The story needs in a kinda Deus ex Machina where Swann's corpse performs one final magic trick, which drives the demons away, before being burned to a crisp. With Swann's corpse now ashes, Mr. Butterfield promises to seek revenge on Harry at a later date before leaving. The story ends with Harry wondering what the future will bring for him.

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    The one aspect of this story I really like is the depiction of the demons in the story. I found the glowing corpse and the marching band very creative. Actually, the marching band reminds me a lot of the monsters that appear in 'The skins of the fathers.'

    Also, Harry is a character that appears in a number of Clive Barker's stories. I look forward to seeing him in future adventures (such as Everville, and the Scarlet Gospels.)

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    This concludes my look at 'The Last Illusion.'' If you have a thought or a question, please leave a like or comment!

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  5. Welcome to part 30 of my study on Clive Barker. Today, we will be looking at his short story 'Twilight at the Towers.'

    Summary: The story, set in Berlin during the Cold War, tells the story of Ballard and his dealings with KBG member named Mironenko. Ballard is a spy for London who is trying to get Mironenko to defect to Britain. Mironenko, however, is really a werewolf (they are not called werewolves in the story but that would be the best way to describe them) who is looking for more of his kind. As the story progresses, Ballard learns that both the Allies and the Soviets have found werewolves and brainwashed them as a way to make them soldiers for them. Ballard is such a soldier. At first, Ballard does believe such a story (would anyone?) until he -under stress- transforms. Ballard, now no longer human, seeks out Mironemko and finds him along with a pack of wolves, werewolves, and things in between. The story ends with Mironemko preaching to from the bible.

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    There are some really solid moments in this story, but I feel that the best is the ending. I thought when Ballard goes to the Sanctuary (at the end of the story) had some really great Imagery.

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    '...he asked two lovers who were rutting in the shelter of the wall if they knew of a man called Mironenko. The bitch had a smooth and hairless back, and a dozen full teats hanging from her belly.

    'Listen,' she said. ' (Clive Barker's Twilight at the Towers, page 96.)

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    I really love the above passage; it is so salvaged and raw at the same time.

    Also, this story's theme: Being faithless and lost, echoes beautifully. The story starts with Mironenko telling Ballard that he has lost all faith in the world and ends with Mironenko preaching about faith. Throughout the whole story, Ballard also questions his faith (faith in his country, faith in his friends, faith in if what he is doing is right or wrong).

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    The last thing I took note of was a new word, Din.

    Used as either a noun or verb, it means: (to make) a loud, unpleasant, and prolonged noise.

    It is also good to build your vocabulary by finding new words through reading.

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    This concludes my look at Twilight at the Towers.'' If you have a thought or a question, please leave a like or comment!

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