Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Clive Barker

I remember when I was in grade school, Clive Barker was a name synonymous with Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  All I knew about him at the time was that he was a horror writer.  Lucky for me, I loved to read horror.

The first Clive Barker novel I picked up was Weaveworld, an unusual story where a magical race of people attempted to escape adversity by weaving an entire portion of reality into a rug, where they hid for centuries.  The concept was so bizarre, and even writing it out now I can never do it justice.  The characters, the world, the descriptions... it was beautiful, as I'm certain was the intent.  I learned very quickly that my previous theory was outrageously far-fetched and the gap between genres grew by horizons.  You see, Clive Barker doesn't write horror fiction.  He writes art.

I became a ravenous reader, grabbing every piece of literature I could get my hands on.  Libraries, bookstores and Amazon, wherever I could hunt down the next experience, the next window into the fantastic worlds in Barker's mind.

The most recent book I read was Sacrament.  While Weaveworld will always be my favorite, perhaps because it was my first, this book is unlike anything I have ever read.  While some people will horde over romance novels looking for some glimpse of what they believe is missing in their lives, Sacrament is a different kind of love story and, in my opinion, the purest of its kind.  While Clive Barker's stories are never without a healthy dose of lust, often in awkward and horrific ways, Sacrament deals with love in the sense of relationships and how those closest to us build themselves into our lives and create who we are.  Sure it wasn't the main theme of the book, but it's what I took away.  I'm a grown man now with a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters, and it's this type of love that feeds me in the dark times.

For those who don't know, we almost lost Clive this past year.  While he's recovering, it's a slow process of regaining strength and achieving minor victories each day that the rest of us would take for granted.  I am eternally grateful for the extra time gifted to us to have such a marvel of the literary world.  In all my years of reading, I have never found his equal and want to personally thank him for being my inspiration in all things writing and art.

I feel that my work pales in comparison, and always will.  One thing that I've taken from Mr. Barker is the understanding that all characters, good and evil, are conflicted.  There's a balance to each of them, a darkness and a humanity, even in Mister B. Gone.  This complication has never failed to intrigue and delight me in every page I've turned.

So to Clive Barker, I would like to say thank you for sharing your gift with the world.  Thank you for having the strength and will to overcome finality.  Thank you for your unique visions of art that can only be described as hauntingly alluring.  Thank you for being my muse and inspiring fantastic world, characters and ideology.  But mostly, thank you for being the wonderful man that you are.  All my love and support.

-Matthew Bryant

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