It was written just after finishing the first trilogy of Books of Blood , and tells a Faustian story that touches on topics such as incest, cannibalism, and self-mutilation in a frank and detailed manner. It was his first novel. Marty Strauss is a gambler recently released from prison. He is hired as the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the wealthiest men in the world. The job is more complicated and dangerous than first he thought.
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A nihilistic humanist. That's interesting. I never thought of Clive Barker that way. Thank you for your well thought out article on The Damnation Game. It's one I haven't read. Now I'm going to. If you really want to try and "get into" King, I would recommend his collections of short stories as a starting point, not his most immense and unwieldy novel. Post a Comment. Sunday, September 28, The Damnation Game.
The range of interpretation is theoretically limitless. Despite this interpretive breadth privileged the reader, the writer of the text in question still more likely than not composed it with a specific reading in mind. The writer means a text to be read a certain way, or a certain number of finite ways. Different texts are written under the aegis of different intentions. What about a wrong way? I mostly read it on the L to and from work. I enjoyed it. Yeah, the story dragged at numerous points, but it was a thoroughly immersive read and Barker writes a fully realized world, however horrific.
The book operates under a very peculiar tradition bringing with it its own set of rules and tendencies: the bestseller mass-market novel, and in particular the horror mass-market novel. These comparisons have some truth to them, and its important to note King himself endorsed the young Barker. I hate to be another King-basher; many of the complaints leveled against him are reactionary, even if he is indeed a problematic writer.
What were some of my complaints? It tends to circle around plot and character, piling on unprompted exposition, interior monologues and superfluous detail. Tighter editing would greatly benefit either King or Banks, at least in the above-mentioned instances. This got me to thinking. Perhaps this prose padding derives not just from the author, but the very format. Barker does not entirely steer clear of the above-mentioned pitfalls, but he does utilize them in a manner that warrants a closer look.
An unnamed thief, who we later learn to be Whitehead, picks his way through the ruins in search of a gambler rumored to be unbeatable. He obviously revels in this Grand Guignol setting. His bare feet… eaten at and his eyes taken out by birds; his torso was riddled with bullet holes…His mouth gaped, but the birds had taken his tongue as well as his eyes. No loss. The filmmaker Dario Argento might be a helpful artist to investigate for comparisons.
But most- and more importantly- there were photographs of the dead. Some of them heaped in piles, others lying in bloody snow, frozen solid. Children with their skulls broken open, people lying in trenches, shot in the face, others with swastikas carved into their chests and buttocks. Point of view is problematic throughout, as Barker leaps, sometimes clumsily, from head to head. The tension is also occasionally deflated as he moves into the head of Mamoulian or Breer.
Such a tactic stresses an important theme of Barkers — his sort of nihilistic humanism. Clive Barker obviously has something he wants to convey concerning physicality, flesh and sensuality.
He has commented in interviews how, as a homosexual, he has always been in someway an outsider from conventional society. Barker, then, is writing from outside the status quo, and his novels celebrate a liberated existence from conventional strictures. A writer like Stephen King writes from within the status quo, celebrating it almost. The Stephen King threat is a threat from outside the privileged mainstream.
King is also an American, while Barker is British. King comes from the reigning imperialist world power, while Barker comes from a country previously known for its imperialism and now somewhat marginalized on the global sphere. It is interesting to note that Barker left the U. Barker, then, can be seen as a writer from a marginalized perspective. Power, then, serves as a lens through which to observe the machinations of his characters. Victim and aggressor are ambiguous roles, each balanced on the pin-point of power itself.
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The Damnation Game
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A gruel of filth had started to seep over the lid of the toilet and dribble onto the floor. Wormy shapes moved in it. She shut her eyes. This was a fabrication, conjured up by the European to subdue her mutiny: she would ignore it. But even with cancelled sight the illusion persisted. The water splashed more loudly as the flood rose, and in the stream she heard wet heavy things flopping on to the bathroom floor. She cursed the illusions and their charmer in one vitriolic breath.
Clive on The Damnation Game
A nihilistic humanist. That's interesting. I never thought of Clive Barker that way. Thank you for your well thought out article on The Damnation Game. It's one I haven't read. Now I'm going to.