With a special introduction by Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City, this is a unique selection of the author’s best short stories and extracts from his novels, chosen by Clive and accompanied by a personal commentary which reveals the man behind the art. Huge in scope, this unique collection examines the work of a man who has taken us further than any other writer of modern fiction: from the fantastic lands of The Fugue (Weaveworld) and the Dominions (Imajica) to the uncharted waters of the dream sea, Quiddity (The Great and Secret Show and Everville). His peerless imagination has only been matched by both his storytelling – from the groundbreaking series of short stories, the Books of Blood, which served as a wake-up call to a floundering horror industry, to the grand metaphysical vision of Galilee – and his ability to create memorable characters such as Will Rabjohns (Sacrament), Shadwell the salesman (Weaveworld) and Judith (Imajica).
A unique project by a unique author, The Essential Clive Barker will appeal both to long-time fans of his work, and anyone with an interest in great fiction.
I picked this up on sale because I'm a Clive Barker fan who hasn't really read enough of him in my life, in particular his novels (I'm all over his movies and Books Of Blood short stories though! And the Hellraiser comic book spin-offs I really dig too).
On the one hand, this is a great collection of Clive's various writings, giving you glimpses into a number of the fantastic worlds and characters he's created. Barker's a master of horror fiction and there's a lot in this volume to enjoy and absorb. Definitely tickles your fancy to check out his books in full. For that, I would give it 4-stars.
On the other hand... it's just glimpses you get. It's kind of like listening to a greatest hits album... but you only get to listen to 30-second clips. And to be honest, it also feels like a big rip-off, like this book was some little publicity stunt the publishers put out to try and make more money off the author during a dry spell or something. For that I would give it 2-stars.
So, on average, I'm giving this 3-stars. Great prose and wonderful segments to read, but the experience left me a little unfulfilled and feeling ever so slightly that I might just have been a more-than-willing sucker for buying it because it had the name 'Clive Barker' in big letters on the cover.
There are many things wrong with The Essential Clive Barker. For starters, the title is simply incorrect. This book does not give you an overview -or even a hint for that matter- of what Clive Barker is all about. At best it gives you a set of teasers that hopefully will entice you to read the full novels. But why not start by picking up a real novel and explore the craftsmanship of the author yourself. Indeed, a concise version of The Essential Clive Barker should read: close this book, go to the bookstore, buy Imajica and enjoy. If you have never read any of his books, this collection is only going to annoy you to death. Right at the moment you are really getting into the flow of a story, it breaks off and leaves you to crave for more.
So if beginners are not supposed to buy this book, should the avid Clive Barker fan invest some dough in it? Why should he? Any self-respecting fan will own all Clive's books anyway. Ah, but there's a catch, indeed. The Departed, a short story that previously only appeared in The New York Times, gets its book premiere in this tombstone of a collection. Sounds like a rip-off? Well, it definitely is. The only real extra's are Clive Barker's explanations for why he selected these particular stories, but these short interludes do not give you any better insights into the stories themselves. This book was clearly only published because the publishers needed some quick money. Just read the real stuff, you won't regret it.
Clive Barker made a name for himself in the horror genre. But this book shows his strength in the fantastical: science fiction, fantasy, terror, mythological, even theater, and of course horror. The book is set up very creatively-- instead of arranging by date of publication, excerpts from his various works are arranged by theme: Memory, Body, Terror, Doorways, etc. Definitely makes me want to explore more of his works!
If you love Clive Barker, are familiar with his inventive stories, and would like to see how his words can be extrapolated to fit many important themes of life, I would highly recommend this book. If you have never read or heard of Clive Barker before, I would not start here.
I had never read or heard of Barker before, only vaguely familiar with works like HellRaiser and Candyman. To put it simply, his stories are incredible. The way he makes each world come alive is beautiful and visceral, raw and relatable. But that was the problem for me with this book. I would fall so hard into a story that I wanted it to keep going, to learn what would happen next to the protagonist and his or her narrative. By the time I had be transfixed by Barker's words, the story would end and another story covering the chosen theme would begin.
Other stories that were included were hard for me to get sucked into. When you begin a story like Imajica in the middle, it can be hard (at least for me) to get your bearings and understand everything that is going on, and the importance of its unfolding. Like I said, his stories are amazing, and I would like to read them all. Had I been familiar with his work beforehand, I think I would have like this book much more.
Imagine, if you will, a greatest hits album. There’s always a slight cynical edge to this concept, as often fans will buy what they already own. However, especially back in the pre-digital days, it does allow for a nice overview the best songs of a band you like and maybe some extra features. This book is somewhat like a greatest hits album. Various snippets of Barker’s books are collected for the reader. They’re loosely themed and have an introduction by Barker. The first introductions were alright, but they got less and less elaborate as the book went on. So what so we have here? Random chapters with little context, of books most of which I read. Barker writes beautifully, and that is why I love his work, but at the end of the day all this ever does is wishing you’d just be reading the actual book, as opposed to a handful of pages. A song on its own works (save for, maybe, some high art concept albums), but the part of a book’s chapter... Not so much. Ultimately I think this is a cynical cash grab and waste of ink and paper.
If you have never read anything by Clive Barker and you want to get a feel for his writing, this is an excellent book. However if you want to sink your teeth into a good book, I'd recommend buying one of his novels, or the Books of Blood.
It was a good book for reading passages from his many novels, but without having read all the novels I didn't really follow on some of the themes. I didn't dislike the book but you really have to like his work and read his books to follow along with the themes.