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Das erste Buch des Blutes by Clive Barker

Das erste Buch des Blutes (original 1984; edition 1997)

by Clive Barker (Author)

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7961411,521 (3.87)12
Title:Das erste Buch des Blutes
Authors:Clive Barker (Author)
Info:Droemer Knaur (1997), 287 Seiten
Collections:Your library

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Books of Blood by Clive Barker (1984)

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It’s been so long since I’ve read these that reading them now is almost like experiencing them for the first time all over again. Having a shoddy memory mainly sucks, but in the case of book re-reads, it holds its gifts.

I do remember some things though – like when this came out, Barker was making his way on the horror scene big time, heavily endorsed by King himself, who said: “I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker.” This quote was even used, with an actor voiceover, for the Hellraiser’s trailer years later. It is used, of course, on the Books of Blood as a selling point.

Barker has since demonstrated extreme versatility in genre and form; you’re more than likely now of days to find his imaginative tombs lining the shelves in a fantasy section rather than a horror one. When he erupted onto the scene he did so with big bangs – the Books of Blood series being one of the biggest.

Immediately it’s clear Barker possesses a beautiful and poetic prose. If you asked me what stood out the most about this anthology, I’d answer that first: writing style. Altering rhythm to fit the story and not become repetitive, there’s emphasis where there should be, distance when that fits, all the while weaving both sides together naturally.

The opening story, ‘The Book of Blood,’ is almost indecisive on where it wanted to go, but ultimately the end is a horrific, well-written arrival. Twisted, surreal, somewhat mystical, the tone for the rest of the anthology is accurately set. Basically the dead have highways by which they travel, and on one of these highways, at an interval, is a house. Inside that house is a poser boy pretending dangerously to be something he isn’t, joined by a paranormal investigator who goes in being duped but leaves exalted. And of course the dead are there. They’re ready to share their stories, how they ended up on this particular path, their personal damnations, so won’t you listen? 3.5/5

In the Midnight Meat Train, Kaufman ends up traveling a dangerous path of his own. The man has loved, cherished, and longed for New York city from afar his entire life, but now that he’s finally planted his roots in the Big Apple, he finds only bitter tastes. Kaufman soon discovers a hidden aspect of the city; apparently one man’s horror is another man’s paradise. It’s grim, it’s brutal, there are gory details but nothing just for cheap shock value. Tension is severely taut in this one. I was chewing my lip and sitting wide eyed at a particular scene at the end. Dark and gritty finale - some disturbing stuff and interesting too. 4/5

The Yattering and the Jack is whimsical and mildly amusing. The story shows the POV of a lower-level repulsive type of demon who is trying to ruin a man’s life and break him in the process. To his annoyance, this man seems to have no breaking point. There were amusing areas but I didn’t outright laugh. Que Sera, Sera…3/5

‘Pig Blood Blues’ starts off reminding me of those redundant school type movies that glorified in teen rebellion in the 80’s and 90’s. You know, the one where a decent person starts at a new school, wanting to teach and do well, but the kids are hellions and the governing figures don’t seem to give a damn. Then the other adults start getting a bit too out there with some of the kids, and flashes of the Wicker Man start burning in my head. Finally it just ends up leaving me with the memory of those nasty little pigs from that Hannibal scene in the movie. Quite disturbing. 3/5

Sex, Death and Starshine is my personal favorite. It revives the old magic of the theatre, a love which apparently transcends death for the dearly departed. I give little thought toward theatre, but Barker is a fan in real life, and it shows through his words as he convincingly weaves his web on yours truly. I also ended up feeling the nostalgia, the magic. There’s some cheesiness I’d like to dust off from the second half, but the story shines the strongest because of a subtle, still eeriness that one can’t put into effective words. 4/5

For the last offering, ‘In the Hills, the Cities,’ I liked the beginning banter between the two mains but became bored after. I dug the unique plot creation and the sociological, potent basis of it, but couldn’t hold focus in between that. 2/5

Overall this anthology is the ideal length – a groovy, gory intro story followed by five tales that offer disturbing doses of disturbed reality in completely different ways. This anthology deserves to be read and known, Barker did a great job creating unease and clearly has a poetic license to boot.

( )
1 vote ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
1. The Book of Blood ***
2. The Midnight Meat Train ****
3. The Yattering and Jack **
4. Pig Blood Blues ****
5. Sex, Death, and Starshine **
6. In the Hills, The Cities *****

3.5 stars. Not frightening but at least imaginative. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
It's easy to see the quality horror fans attribute to Barker's early work. He's an excellent writer, and his ideas are jaw-droppingly creative and original, at times.

[N.B. This review includes images, and was formatted for my site, dendrobibliography -- located here.]

Personally, however, I don't connect much with it. After a couple of his books, it's hard to put my finger on why. Part of it, I think, is I find his prose too clinical and passive, his use of uncommon words and phrases too hand-me-that-Thesaurus. Some of his stories are affected by personal pathos, too. There're no interesting or realistic female characters in any of his early stories that I've read, for example: They all amount to being described as worthless whores not just by characters, but by the narration itself. Their only personality traits are being dumb and craving sex with everything. (Granted, in a lot of Barker stories, you'll find all anyone craves is sexual depravity, but at least one gender is granted a will.)

The first (1984) Books of Blood volume was a mixed bag for me. Often, I'd find myself interested in the idea behind a story, but bored by the execution where nothing much surprises you and it's told with such a passive interest by a narrator who spends too much time philosophically dwelling on coagulating blood coating everything and pooling everywhere.

I loved 'Pig Blood Blues.' This story focused on a horrific mystery being investigated by a new teacher at a juvenile remand center. The center's isolation from the outside world felt genuine, and, as a reader, there was this uneasy, goddanged creepy sense of no escape, of no alternative but facing the impossible pig-god-whatever, of laying down with it in its fetid pen. *eugh* It's all pigs, decay, Lovecraftian cults, death worship--and the obligatory weird sexy stuff.

That one left me with some shivers.

The rest, however...the introductory tale, 'the Book of Blood,' gave context to the series that was interesting, but heavily suffered from the passive writing style with nothing much happening. Both 'the Midnight Meat Train'--where a serial killer stalks New York to feed flesh to the living, once-human foundation--and 'the Yattering and Jack'--where a lower-echelon demon must drive the soul from a very straight-faced, que-sera-sera man using madness--had the typical, interesting set-ups, but then...where do they go? Every turn and every page and every encounter is incredibly predictable, taking the interesting set-up and doing nothing beyond the pitch.

'In the Hills, the Cities': Two sister-towns in rural Yugoslavia form living giants to enact a traditional battle against one another. A bad year for both towns' harvests and livelihoods cause some inherent structural issues for both fleshy giants. Two young lovers complain about one another and see the aftermath. Cool set-up: The end.

'Sex, Death and Starshine'--woah. A theater puts on its last play, a rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, to a supernatural audience come to bid the building adieu. Neil Gaiman very clearly took a lot of influence from this story for his award-winning 19th issue of Sandman. I liked it, but the misogyny and characterization collapsing to rush the goofy ending affected my enjoyment some.

So, I've read and been let down by two Barker books so far. So much of his work sounds really danged cool and ground-breaking, though, that I refuse to give up. I might just need to step away from his bloody, bloody '80s horror and try his dark fantasy '90s tales. ( )
2 vote alaskayo | Nov 3, 2015 |
Weel, Clive Barkes is a sick man. He has to be. But his sick and undoubtedly original fantasy takes him to hat he is, one of the greatest horror writer alive. In the first volume of the Books of Blood there's everything what makes a good Barker book. Every short story's a masterpiece but if I have to choose, my favourite would be The Yattering and Jack because of its hilarious humour.... ( )
  TheCrow2 | Sep 10, 2012 |
Horror stories carved in the flesh of a young man by an army of angry ghosts. Some of the tales are truly inspired.

The Yattering and Jack is the hilarious story of a demon haunting an excessively mild-mannered man who doesn't seem to take the slightest notice of the supernatural disturbances in his house.

Pig Blood Blues tells the creepy story of an institute for adolescent offenders where a pig has become possessed with the homicidal and cannibalistic spirit of one of the dead boys.

In the Hills, the Cities is one of my favourite short stories, the wonderfully weird tale of a gay couple touring the countryside of Yugoslavia when they discover the twin cities of Popolac and Podujevo - cities that fight every ten years as giants made out of all of their citizens lashed together. ( )
  catfantastic | Jun 26, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425083896, Mass Market Paperback)

"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red." For those who only know Clive Barker through his long multigenre novels, this one-volume edition of the Books of Blood is a welcome chance to acquire the 16 remarkable horror short stories with which he kicked off his career. For those who already know these tales, the poignant introduction is a window on the creator's mind. Reflecting back after 14 years, Barker writes:

I look at these pieces and I don't think the man who wrote them is alive in me anymore.... We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived; and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.

Reading these stories over, I feel a little of both. Some of the simple energies that made these words flow through my pen--that made the phrases felicitous and the ideas sing--have gone. I lost their maker a long time ago.

These enthusiastic tales are not ashamed of visceral horror, of blood splashing freely across the page: "The Midnight Meat Train," a grisly subway tale that surprises you with one twist after another; "The Yattering and Jack," about a hilarious demon who possesses a Christmas turkey; "In the Hills, the Cities," an unusual example of an original horror premise; "Dread," a harrowing non-supernatural tale about being forced to realize your worst nightmare; "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament," about a woman who kills men with her mind. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but all are distinguished by strikingly beautiful images of evil and destruction. No horror library is complete without them. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:38 -0400)

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