This review is so hard to write. I’m used to loving all things Barker, but Mister B. Gone was a hard one to love. In the beginning, it was hard to even like.
The premise and the look of the book are both amazing.
see : Gothic demony goodness.
"The book was ‘written’ 600 years ago, in between the pages, a demon; Jakabok Botch, is trapped.”
It’s Clive Barker.
I know I wasn’t the only one expecting some fucked up things to come. Like - The Most fucked up things- I was hoping to have ever read in my life!
But then…not so much.
The quick list of things that were unexpected or eyebrow raising- but not in a good way are as follows:
The first 20 pages of “burn this book” over and over made me kinda hate my demon narrator.
The Dad, with a gun and a machete, this all felt unnatural or forced.
Demon domestic violence?
The Ninth circle of hell *is* the worst place ever but not in a way I imagined.
The relationships Jakabok experiences - even if they are at a glance – are rushed, sloppy, without meaning, and it only hurts my brain more that he insists on them.
I liked the broken fourth wall, first person narration but Jakabok wasn’t witty enough, or melancholy enough for me to really like it in this context.
This is all pointing to Mister B. Gone not being as gritty or as dark as I wanted it to be.
It was all
less Dante’s Inferno
more Damned | Chuck Palahniuk
(don’t get me started on this one)
The message wasn't lost on me, I got it. Without giving anything away, Jakabok's journey told in retrospect, is about how he became trapped within the book. The story eventually brings you down a road in 1400's Germany. A war wages between heaven and hell over an invention being put together in some dudes basement. - there's no spoilers - I'm not going to tell you what it was or how Jakabok meets his ultimate imprisonment. But the end of the book sheds light on a truth -
the importance of words.
Personally, I think the epic battle being waged between heaven and hell, the small town in Germany, angels and demons flexing their indifferences to humans - was the story- should have been the story - the whole story, not the end of one for some low level demon with no powers.
All the things I’ve got to bitch about aside – the book does deserve stars.
The style of this book is written in a completely different format, different POV, different style than any of his other books, or just other books in general – which to me speaks to the man’s versatility- even if I didn’t like it bunches and tons.
Tons n Bunches?
Another star to goes to this book because of the last quarter.
It scared me. >>> This dude scared me!
I don’t know if it was the writing or my need to entertain myself at all times – but the moment the demon started to tell me that he was approaching me from behind I quickly moved into a corner. I let go, I let myself be scared. I even thought to myself :
Maybe I wasn’t supposed to like Jakabok!
Maybe this whole time while I sat back sneering at this wholly flawed character and crazy story arc Clive Barker trapped a fucking demon in this book that was now going to kill me…
Maybe I should have burnt this book!!!
....Or maybe it was crown and ginger...
Either way it was a fun moment. A moment I will never take for granted when a book delivers it.
The last star(s) going to Mister B. Gone is what I call
“The Unicorn Status” star.
The Unicorn Status star is given to writers like Barker who have reached such a popularity, have worked so hard and have delivered even just one outstanding piece of work that it has shot them into the stratosphere of being an almost infallible, almost mythical (can you tell I’m a fan yet?) creature, that – when you hear their name – greatness of many sorts comes to mind.
Would I recommend Mister B. Gone? Yea, I think I would. Would I expect you to like it? I don't know. If you do, awesome we can discuss it, if you don't, we'll have suffered together :)
I couldn't stop here though. Leaving a Barker book anywhere but on the top of my shelf left me curious. Wtf happened? It's not just me, I know it, I've scoured the reviews - it was a miss. But why?! Who knows, we'd have to be in the mind of the writer to get a glimpse, or an inclination of the thoughts and feelings that went into their work...we can't possibly do that but then there is this: An interview with Barker where he states when talking about process and inspiration of Mister B. Gone -
"I think there is an absolutely direct, indisputable correlation between my life as an artist and the rhythms of my life as a writer and the rhythms of desire," Barker observed. With Mister B. Gone, "I wanted to do something that just came out of my guts and, yes, my balls and through my heart, bypassing my brain, and out. I had to be in that man, that creature, Jakabok Botch." All of which meant that Barker for several weeks last spring put himself on a regimen of writing six hours a day, starting around 9 in the morning, for seven days a week -- and no sex. "We're talking about energy essentially, creativity: The sex goes into the book, even though there's no sex in the book.""
It was an experiment.
M. M. Dos Santos
Quote from 'A life in horror has paid off well' JAMES ADAMS /globeandmail.com