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Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Coldheart Canyon (edition 2001)

by Clive Barker

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Title:Coldheart Canyon
Authors:Clive Barker
Collections:Your library
Tags:~(First Edition, Hardcover/Signed by the Author to me!)

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Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker



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This book felt slightly more narrative to me than some of Barker's other works. It also lacked some of the magic found in his other stories. Still an excellent read, though certainly not for those with closed-minds and imaginations. ( )
  Heather_Brock | Nov 23, 2016 |
Clive Barker and I go way back. Long before God and everybody knew who Pinhead was, I was enjoying stories like "In the Hills, the Cities" and "Pig Blood Blues." Hmmm. Perhaps "enjoying" isn't quite the right word, but you know what I mean. I can't say I've read everything the man has written, but I've certainly read a goodly portion of it. Part of the reason for Barker's success is the combination of beautiful, dreamlike prose with some of the most vile and visceral situations and characters known to man. For most of Barker's stories, this works just fine, in huge books like Imajica as well as in smaller gems like The Hellbound Heart or The Thief of Always. But for some reason in Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story, the combination felt flat.

Coldheart Canyon takes place in two different timeframes and in two different worlds. It opens in 1920 in a monastery in Romania. Although this section does introduce us to characters we'll be meeting later, including a tiled room completely covered in exquisite and obscene artwork, I'm not sure this was necessary. The two major characters we meet, Katya Lupi and the aforementioned tiled room, function as ghosts of a sort in the latter portions of the book. As such, they're allowed to be mysterious and unexplained. Heck, half the fun of a good ghost story is wondering whether or not there really IS a ghost. This opening segment gives us information we don't really need to make the whole story work.

The rest of the book takes place in modern-day Hollywood, and our main character is Todd Pickett, a brilliantly handsome, megawatt famous, almost competent actor. From here on in the book is essentially a battle for Todd's soul, and that's part of my problem with it. I'm not sure Todd has one. Barker seems to believe that he's worthy of sympathy; that we should care about his struggle. But I don't. I could live with one character I didn't like, even a main character. But "none of the above" should never be your answer when someone asks you about your favorite character. I really didn't like much of anybody in this one, and for a ghost story, that's an especially bad thing. The whole point of a ghost story is to scare you. Sure, some violent episodes and glistening viscera are disturbing, but in order to truly scare you, you have to care about what's going to happen to the characters. If you have no connection with the characters, then their bloody demises are just so much splatter, regardless of how poetically they may be described.

But maybe the problem is with me. When I hear the words "ghost story," I tend to think of something elegant and subtle. Something eerie and disturbing that makes you jump at sudden noises and stare hard at stray shadows. Barker is a visceral writer. For the most part, he doesn't suggest creepy goings-on; he describes them in all their carnal glory. This vivid description may ultimately be more terrifying, but I like to have room for my imagination to work on a scary story. I believe it was Stephen King who, in talking about film monsters mentioned the sense of relief that comes with the revelation of the scary thing. As scary as that thing may be, there's always a sense of "Whew! That was bad, but not as bad as what I was thinking." Barker takes too much away from me in this one; he doesn't let me create my own worst monster.

In all fairness, there's no rule that says he has to. It's not a bad book, by any stretch of the imagination. There's a story being told, the characters develop, and Barker's prose is as strong as ever. I just never engaged with the story or the characters. I didn't care who won or lost, or really even who lived or died. It didn't feel like a ghost story to me, and so it left me disappointed. ( )
1 vote Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Right now 1.99 on Kindle
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
in my opinion not his best work, it seems to me like a cheaper version of his great books like Imajica or the great and secret show.
The only good things is the reflexions on fiction and reality, the illusion of the cinema world wich we know Barker works in. ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
Strange... I loved the tile mural and all the history and craziness that surrounded it, but I could have done without the rest of the plot. ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Barker's new novel is a ferocious indictment of (and backhanded tribute to) Hollywood Babylon, depicted through Barker's glorious imagination as a nexus of human and inhuman evil where fleshly pursuits corrupt the spirit. It's also one ripping ghost story, spooky and suspenseful, as well as a departure for Barker in that here, as never before, the fantastic mingles with the real, kind of.... a fluid writing style; a canvas whose twisted originality rivals Bosch; a depth of theme; and an understanding of the human yearning for good and evil alike—they add up to a royal flush, one of the most accomplished, and most notable, novels of the year.
added by Lemeritus | editPublishers Weekly (Jul 23, 2001)
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For David Emilian Armstrong
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It is night in Coldheart Canyon, and the wind comes off the desert.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006103018X, Mass Market Paperback)

Film's most popular action hero needs a place to heal after surgery that has gone terribly wrong. His fiercely loyal agent finds him just such a place in a luxurious, forgotten mansion high in the Hollywood Hills. But the original owner of the mansion was a beautiful woman devoted to pleasure at any cost, and the terrible legacy of her deed has not yet died. There are ghosts and monsters haunting Coldheart Canyon, where nothing is forbidden.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:30 -0400)

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After a run of failed moves, Todd Pickett finds himself used up by the very system which turned him into a star. In a desperate attempt to regain his lost beauty, Picket has surgery that goes grotesquely wrong. Attempting to hide, he finds himself in Coldheart Canyon, a place which lies somewhere between life and death, reality and illusion, where the great legends of a forgotten Hollywood are waiting to educate him in the bitter business of a life after fame.… (more)

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