Horror: A study on Clive Barker Part 2, Book of Blood.
The first Clive Barker book I will be looking at is Books of Blood, a collection of his short stories. The first short story shares the title of the book and is called 'Book of Blood.'
Summary: In Book of Blood, a con-man tricks a scientist into believing that he can talk to the dead. The Irony of this con is that the dead become angry over the con and exact their revenge on the con-man by carving their personal stories into his body. The scene ends with the scientist reading the stories the dead have carved into the man (this serves as a plot device that connects all the short stories in a shared universe.)
Notes: The first thing I want to look at is the purpose of this first story; it serves as a prologue of a type. It connects all the stories that are about to be read into a Share universe. A lot of writers have their own story universe; another famous Horror writer that does this is Stephen King. I myself plan on having a shared story universe, as I think it gives my works a solid backbone.
The second thing I wanted to make note of is the opening paragraph, 'The dead have highways... through cracks of cruelty, violence, and depravity."
I want to look at cruelty, violence, and depravity. These are abstractions, and for the most part, abstractions are lazy writing; however, Clive Barker is using them however to give a sense of the type of stories we are about to read. Abstractions are only lazy writing when the writer does not give a solid image (or story) to justify their use, and Clive Barker delivers as some of the stories we will be looking at are very disturbing.
The third thing I wanted to look at is a genius use of personification. Personification is a poetic device where you give something non-human, human qualities. "Insect voices buzzed, and sung, and complained." (Page 6.) The con-man personifies flies that are in the room, however, what makes this so genius is that this foreshadows events to come. A few pages later we learn that what the con-man was hearing was not flies, but ghosts in the background. Clive Barker used a poetic device to draw attention to a small detail that ends up being a very important detail. It also shows a great understanding of horror; small events (such as flies buzzing in the background) might actually have supernatural attachments.
The fourth thing I wanted to look at is another use of a poetic device Synesthesia. Clive Barker makes reference to the Dionysian aspect of art throughout a lot of his works. Being that I've studied the Dionysian aspect for my story, I was able to pick up on this fairly easy. In essence, the basic idea behind it is that when a person enters a state of ecstasy, their senses blend together and they become one with Dionysian. This idea is why I use Synesthesia for my MC, and I would be willing to wager that this was the same line of thought Clive Barked was using when he employed the poetic device.
In the story, the scientist enters a state of sexual ecstasy as she thinks about having sex with the con-man. She starts to describe items in a Synesthesia terms examples: Sour Metal, Stale Gold. It is a great use of the device.
The fifth thing I wanted to point out is the ending of the story. The scientist (The MC) wants two things: She wants proof that ghost exists, and she wants to have a sexual relationship with the Con-man; she gets both of these things. The Con-man is mutilated beyond recognition (he doesn't die). His mutilated body is proof that ghost exists, but it also provides her with the opportunity to make him hers. He is now ugly (due to his injuries) but she is willing to make him hers because his ugliness proves ghost exists. The subtext of behind this is rather disturbing, the idea of getting him medical attention or that fact her cameraman has died doesn't even cross her mind, all she cares about is that she get everything she wants despite the horrendous price that was paid to get it.
I hope you've enjoyed this look the first short story in his collection, and hope you will continue reading along as I make my way through his works.
Leave a comment if you have an idea or thought on this story or what I've written up.
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