Friday, March 20, 2009

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker

This book is nearly 20 years old and while rereading it I did wonder how modern technology would have affected the plot. The internet, mobile phones - they do take the cliffhanger out of a story!

There is no denying the weight of this book. At over 700 pages, it will make your arm ache when you read it in bed. However, I do question the need for so many pages. It is a complex plot, with many characters, and yet there are passages which seem to neither illuminate character nor move the action forward. Because of the length, Barker allows characters to drop out of the action for extended periods. This is disorientating, and is the books major failing.

It is, however, a book full of intriguing ideas and haunting images. Quiddity, the dream sea which we visit just 3 times is a concept that seems to carry a resonance that makes you wonder whether Barker has some knowledge that we don't share. It is worth reading for the thought-provoking images and the sense that some of it is true. It is worth reading to understand how all the elements fit together and how the seemingly unstoppable chain of events play out.

I just wish it was a bit more succinct.

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