Monday, 4 June 2012

Clive Barker's Imajica

Clive Barker is one the better known writers of fantasy, specifically of a subgenre that I would like to call body fantasy as it shares with body horror its preoccupation with the human body, not necessarily in a destructive or degenerative way though that is one part of it. Hence some of his work is commonly classified under horror.


It's been a while now that I wanted to read some of his works so a couple of years ago I bought several of his novels, Galilee, Sacrament, and Imajica. As the story of Imajica seemed to be the most-accessible to me out of the three books I started reading it. But somehow I didn't get past page 30, maybe…

But about a month I have been in search for some book that would allow me to completely leave behind the reality the way Neil Gaiman's American Gods or The Tales of Mithgar have done lately. And my eyes fell on the 1991 novel by Clive Barker. So I picked it up again and started… again.

While it has little consequence in the book itself, its title - Imajica - is quite appropriate as the novel is a very imaginative tale of a man on the quest to find himself. To achieve this goal he goes to hardly imaginable lengths including leaving our world literally behind himself.

Trying to give an indication of what can be found in this book would inevitably spoil the pleasure in reading the novel as discovering the man and the places he travels with him made up a lot of the pleasure. Suffice to say that Barker gives an interesting interpretation of magicians of the Faustian kind. While some critics have called this novel an erotic one I rather feel that they mix up two very distinct ideas. Imajica is deeply rooted in what I have previously called body fantasy and as such features many graphic description of physical destruction, very strange body structures, and very human bodily actions and reactions. At the same time it is about love in all its forms. Most people are driven by different forms of love or, at least, desire. In this aspect the novel becomes a very romantic one.

As before it took a few dozen pages before I got hooked on the story but once hooked I found it difficult stopping to read. The last fifty pages I tried to read as fast as I could to get to the end of it, to understand, but in my haste I guess I missed something because I am left with many open questions, on why some things turned out the way they did, on why some people did the things they did, to what end. So I guess I'll have no choice to re-read at least the final hundred (out of about 840) pages, this time taking the time to let the words sink in properly. After all, the book felt like it provided the answers but that you need to read it carefully to grasp the meaning of it…

To summarize the reading experience, it's very worthwhile but will take some time to finish and understand it. Which makes it a very good book, I guess.

You can buy it at Amazon…

No comments:

Post a Comment