How can I best describe The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker? Well, imagine the start being at one end of a swimming pool, and the swimming pool is filled with jelly (or jello to some) made from a cocktail of your favourite alcoholic spirits and liqueurs.
And to reach the end you’ve got to wade through this Olympic sized jelly filled swimming pool, right, so chances are you’re going to enjoy a fair portion of it before you get full anyway. There’s going to be some enjoyment, mixed in with some fucking hard work, there’s going to be intense appreciation of the idea but it’s not something you can possibly do in one go, it might take you weeks and you may even decide to eat your way through it, taking even longer. You’ll grow tired, weak even, your arms will ache but you’ll soldier on even though you think it’s just not bloody worth it.
There’ll be all kinds of feelings going through your mind, a myriad of emotions, like why the Fuck did I start this massive fucking job now. Jesus fucking wept you will swear several times and hover over diving in again until you desperately need to just get it over with, as if your life depends on it.
So to recap it’s going to be hard going, you’ll love some of it, you’ll get pissed at some of it, you’ll feel like taking a break at regular intervals and you might even question your will to finish the job, even your sanity but if you do finish, it will certainly hold some sort of reward and a sense of achievement will prevail.
Anyway apologies for that rubbish but that’s how I felt at times, I started this book in November and it’s taken me six weeks to read and I’m fucking glad it’s over with. It’s unquestionably genius, the writing is imaginative with wonderful prose, it’s a great story but it labours horrifically, I loved it while at the same time I hated it and I’ll never, ever think to pick it up again, in fact I’m going to cremate this fucker. Now I have a few other Barker tomes awaiting Imajica, Coldheart Canyon and Weaveworld, will I read them anytime soon? Only when I want to wade through jelly again. Nuff said.
Words by Paul Nelson, @pgnelson72