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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker 
11th-Jan-2009 11:59 pm
Barker, Clive. Mister B. Gone. New York: Harper, 2007.
          Summary: Jakabok Botch is a lowly demon from the Ninth Circle of Hell who ends up getting dragged into the Dark Ages. There, he meets fellow demon Quitoon, and the duo wanders happily about in search of the newest and coolest technologies. Their last excursion is to Mainx, where Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press are poised to revolutionize the world. Mister B.'s story is told in the first person, as if he himself is trapped within the book you are reading.
          Comments: Okay, I admit that I jumped at the opportunity to buy this book in hardcover purely due to its paratextual features. I loved the way that the pages have all been printed in full color in order to make them look like yellowing, age-stained parchment. I loved the turquoise endpapers and the faux-leather dustjacket. And I didn't care a whit whether HarperCollins might well be trying to compensate for textual deficits with bling.
          Actually, for those keeping score, the plot premise is incredibly gimmicky. A demon trapped in a book, "speaking" to you in real time, and begging you to burn the book? Nope, it don't get much more gimmicky than that. The denouement, where Heaven and Hell wage war in Gutenberg's living room over who gets control over print media, borders on the ridiculous but ends up being mostly tiresome. The book's main redeeming feature is the character of Jakabok Botch (a.k.a. Mister B.) himself, who despite everything is lovable.
          Especially when he is in love. I wasn't expecting a gay marriage subtheme here (even though Clive Barker is gay) that would appeal to my romantic side, but there you have it. Mister B. loves the super-duper demon Quitoon in an oddly non-erotic way and dreams--literally--of marrying him. Quitoon's feelings on the subject are left ambiguous, but Mister B. is silently pledging marriage vows right before the end. And that he is doomed to entrapment in the book because he chose to follow his heart is definitely an allegory with a political agenda.
          Rating: 6/10 - Lively prose that is fun to read--if not particularly profound and terribly depressing by the end.
13th-Jan-2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Aha, this sounds cute and silly and perfect for a random read ^^ It sort of reminds me of Good Omens in the tongue-in-cheek Heaven vs. Hell storyline. And the love story sounds really adorable <3.
13th-Jan-2009 02:45 am (UTC)
Err...it's silly if you like gallows-humor, I suppose. Mostly, though, I found it depressing. Good Omens is way more straightforwardly fun. ^_^ (The love story, by the way, is never consummated. When Mister B. falls in love, all he ever does is suffer for it. Like I said, it seems to have a political agenda.)
13th-Jan-2009 02:49 am (UTC)
Aw, a sad ending, then? Unrequited love led him to be trapped in the pages of the book? I've been trying to find some stories similar to Good Omens, but haven't been that successful.
13th-Jan-2009 02:55 am (UTC)
Unrequited love led him to be trapped in the pages of the book?

Basically. >_<

I've been trying to find some stories similar to Good Omens, but haven't been that successful.

Silly supernatural adventures with a homoerotic twist? Hmm. You might try Mark Gatiss's Lucifer Box novels. The Vesuvius Club is pretty fun.

For gay romantic comedy in the real world, I like Stephen McCauley: http://kethylia.livejournal.com/642290.html
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