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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker 
13th-Mar-2006 11:06 pm
You know, novels by Clive Barker have been staring me down since I haunted the ONE aisle of adult fiction novels in the local Waldenbooks (before big box bookstores made their appearance near me)...but I never actually read one. Until now.

Barker, Clive. The Hellbound Heart. 1986. New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1991.
Summary: Frank, a jaded hedonist in search of new pleasures, makes contact with another dimension and is enslaved. He makes contact with his sister-in-law Julia and convinces her to kill for him so that he can return to the normal world. However, his plot is foiled by Kristy, who also mistakenly contacts this other dimension and convinces the Cenobites to take Frank back.
Comments: I'm not sure what, exactly, I was expected when I bought this novella, but it wasn't the coolly English tone of the prose coupled with Anne Rice-style erotic horror. The mythos of the story was quite creative and not even fully-exploited within the scope of the story. I could easily imagine its genesis being some combination of boogieman from the closet and midnight masturbatory fantasy. Incidentally, though there was nothing overtly homoerotic (save that, as per many male authors both gay and straight, Barker is more comfortable writing about male genitalia), certainly nothing I would've picked up on 10+ years ago that I first considered reading this novel, I did note that it seemed quite possible that Frank paid for that Lemarchand box that was the key to the other dimension with sexual favors. (--; Not to mention that the "There must be more to life than nonstop sex!" theme shows up disproportionately in modern fiction by gay male writers. Anyway, an intriguing world. I suppose I should check out the films or Barker's other novels at some point.
Notes: mass market paperback, 14th printing
Rating: 6/10 - Horror novels tend not to be that scary in my opinion, but this one at least had a couple genuinely creepy images.
14th-Mar-2006 10:13 am (UTC)
I think this might have been one of those books with a cult following because though I haven't read this novel, I'm familiar with the Cenobites and their box from several pieces of fanfiction.
14th-Mar-2006 01:56 pm (UTC)
Most genre fiction authors have a "cult following" if they're not, like, women mystery writers or...Stephen King.

BTW, I saw a Re: Good Omens interview with Gaiman and Pratchett in this month's Lotus, and one of the first things the former talks about is the slash. ^^;;;;
14th-Mar-2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
Not surprising considering how net savvy Gaiman is^_^ Author comments about slash tend to go 2 ways: No comment/pretended ignorance or they find it intriguing/amusing.
14th-Mar-2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
Locus Magazine, rather. I can't spell this morning. :P

Gaiman's known about slash for a long, long time now. In fact, he wrote that one scene with the genie in American Gods for the slash fans, I think. ^^;;;

Luckily for his fans, he's tolerant of it. Other writers are not so much since it can cut into their bottom line, especially for franchise-type endeavors.
14th-Mar-2006 11:45 am (UTC)
Two that I really enjoyed by Clive Barker are The Great and Secret Show and Sacrament.
He's a good author when you're in the mood for something generally creepy.
14th-Mar-2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Do you know of any other good horror writers? (I mean, besides Stephen King and Anne Rice.) I'm not that familiar with the genre.
15th-Mar-2006 03:37 am (UTC)
Hmmm. Well I'm an old school Poppy Z. Brite fan. Her book Drawing Blood was one of the most twisted, original ghost stories that I have ever read. Other than that I'm really not a huge horror fan.
15th-Mar-2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
Hmm...I liked her Exquisite Corpse. Have you read that one? Her New Orleans restaurant novels do nothing for me, so maybe I should check out the earlier stuff...
16th-Mar-2006 12:31 am (UTC)
I have every book Poppy's ever done. Exquisite Corpse was very good, but some of the extremly gory bits turned my stomach a bit.

Her first book Lost Souls is not something I would highly reccomend. It was great when I was 15 and in love with the goth scene and vampires, but I just don't care for it now.

Her short story collections are very good as well.

The New Orleans chef books are better if you read the book Value of X that shows how the characters got together and grew up together. It sheds a whole new light on Liquor and Prime.
16th-Mar-2006 09:16 am (UTC)
Exquisite Corpse was very good, but some of the extremly gory bits turned my stomach a bit.

In an ironic way, writing about cannibals anticipated the chef stories, transitioning her from horror. ^^;

The New Orleans chef books are better if you read the book Value of X that shows how the characters got together and grew up together.

I don't think that'll help. >_< There's a subgenre of New Orleans gay fiction, and Brite's characters simply weren't convincing in light of it. They read like lesbians, not gay men. As far as I'm concerned, it's a-okay to have fantasy guys who are to real New Orleans gay men what Dracula is to Vlad Tepes in a fantastic novel, but it's NOT okay when you're trying to convince me that this is actually real.
1st-Apr-2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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