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Clive Barker
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In the Middle Nov. 11 2003
This is the third book I've read by Barker. The last one, Damanation game I really did not care for, But the Thief of Always I loved. This falls somewhwere in the middle. The imagery and fable like quality of storytelling work well here. Just like almost every other Barker book, it has a healthy dose of sexuality mixed in with gore. Barker fans know what I'm talking about. First timers may find it a bit much.
Creating your own mythology is hard to pull off. Barker manages better than most who have attempted it. He slowly explains his concepts letting the reader digest what he is trying to get across one small portion at a time.
However, the characterization is hit and miss. Jaffe, the antagonist is fully developed and Barker really makes the ambiguity of the character tangible and you feel for him. But you don't realize the "true" protagonist until a good third into the book because they do not show up until then. When it does happen, the revelation seems whimsical and I found it difficult to accept. Especially when he does such a great job with Jaffe.
There is a Shakespearian element to this book that works very well and should have been the dominating element to this story. I think readers would have been satisfied with that. The love triangle and the events that led up to it are fully realized. He had enough to propel his grand scheme with just that. But the additional characters, such as the reporter and his friend were gratuitous. Maybe they play a bigger part in the sequel called "Everville."
I can see why people love this book and I can see why people hate it. Some great stuff but it's unbalanced.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Good and secret Show March 31 2003
This is the fourth book I've read by barker and I think I've figured out why I haven't turned into a fan. But before I get into that, let me say that "The Show" is so far the best clive barker Book I've read (out of Imajica,Damnation game,Inhuman Condition). It is NOT the best book ever as some people on the site claim but it is good. I admit ,the simple parts of the story keeps you interested and makes you beg for more . (Good Vs.evil) (dreams vs. fears), but clive complicates things to the ninth degree with useless Sci-fi, fantasy imagery. This story like Imajica , is full of complex but underdeveloped themes. That's when I figured out why I'm not a fan.
I truly feel that great forms of art are born from simple, basic and minimal ideas that have room to grow and develop. I personally get more involved with characters and plots that develop through-out the book. The books I've read so far by Barker have themes that seemed to be complete and complex before you start reading. They don't develop, they just simply exist and you are force to accept them. Both Imajica and The Show are identical is this way. I would love for barker to take a simple premise like "envy" and develop it into a complete and concise novel. But from past experience I now know that barker would rather take "Envy" and match it up with the 4 dimensions, the end of the world and a land called Rezirdan that you can reach through sex. Lol.
With that said. I will still probably read everville but maybe not until next year sometime. I just need some simple depth out of my novels for a change.
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This is definitely an interesting book but, then again, that probably depends on what interests you. For Clive Barker fans, the story largely fits into the thematic structures he often puts to writing (notably in works like "Weaveworld" and "Imajica"). For those new to Clive Barker, his are books that you have to give a chance. Go along for the ride and realize that if you are confused by what is happening, so often are the main characters. In fact, that is often the point. Everything is not wrapped up into a nice little bundle, certainly not right away. You are given hints. You are given threads of the story along with the characters and, along with them, you will unravel those threads to get at the core elements.
The overall story uses fantastical elements (the dream-sea, called Quiddity; loops in time; a mysterious cult that worships something called the Art) but in doing so what the story is really highlighting is the secret lives that people lead and how ephemeral those lives can be, particularly when those lives are based on the superficial and fleeting pleasures (whether that be fame, money, or sex). The events in the book speak to people's deepest fears and their secret desires and how those fuel an odd melange of dreams and nightmares and how those dreams and those nightmares can define who we are and who we become. The ideas in this book flow pretty fast and furious and yet all are logically connected in my opinion. While the concepts are fantastical, the mundane setting they are placed in serves as a wonderful contrast to the events that eventually take place.
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When Randolph Jaffe applies for a job in the "Dead Letter Office" in Omaha, Nebraska he has no clue of what kind of world he is about to enter. Most of the lost letters that are brought to his office are of no importance - unless they contain money, of course. But once in a while the content of a letter suggest more than a common human will ever be able to understand. They talk about crossroads between worlds - thin spots in the fabric of reality. It doesn't take long before Randolph is totally hooked. But when he is about to be fired, a murder changes his plans completely: he now must find a crossroads - even if this means losing his life.
There is only one word strong enough to describe this book: masterpiece. Clive Barker is admired for his fantastic stories, interwoven with ... suspense, darkness and pure horror. This book is certainly no exception. But what makes this one so special is its vastness. Even when you only read the first pages, you know for sure that this is story huge - nothing less than epic; you realise immediately that you are on the verge of a mind-blowing experience.
This book is the first part of three. The second book - or The Second Book of The Art - is already available: Everville. As with The Great and Secret Show, it is an absolute treasure. Sadly enough, the third volume is not planned for the near future. Clive has explained in an interview that the third part is a real struggle: it has a tendency of growing bigger that part one and two together. This could only mean more joy, of course! So, please Clive, don't let us wait any longer!
This book should be on the shelf of every fantasy and horror lover.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Sci Fi not horror makes this worth reading
Interesting sci fi book easy to get through with believable characters, I enjoyed it and recommend it. Not a horror book per se, definitely sci fi fans will enjoy the most.
Published 3 months ago by lorie
5.0 out of 5 stars It's no secret....
the dead letter room in the middle of Omaha, Randolph Jaffe has stumbled upon a secret. At first, the secret isn't clear, just vague references to something called the Art. Read more
Published on April 16 2009 by Jamieson Villeneuve
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpredictable & Different
This is the first Clive Barker book I have ever read & I can say it won't be the last. This is a excellent & different story with great character & plot development. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by BigRig
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow.
I consider myself a fairly slow reader, but I finished this book in about a week. It was not at all hard to read or understand. I could not put it down!! Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by Kina M Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking Man's (or Woman's) Horror
GSS is a compelling mixture of stories that only a master like Clive Barker could pull together.
Among the many stories a lucky ready will find in this book are star-crossed... Read more
Published on May 2 2003 by Steve M
1.0 out of 5 stars Not A Fan
This was the first Clive Barker book I've read. I was not impressed by anything - characters, plot, or writing style. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, of course, but...
Considering I love Barkers style, imagination, ability... (hmmm, obsessed fan I am not, I promise) and The Great and Secret Show definately showcased his talents (and fairly early... Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2002 by A. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Dark Fantasy
"The Great and Secret Show" is one of the best books I have ever read. I've read many Barker books and while all of them are fantastic, this one is unbelievable. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2002 by Caris O'Malley
5.0 out of 5 stars mesmerization
a powerful, eloquent work that coalesces mysterious events in the lives of strange, alluring characters. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2002 by Brian Wallace (Co-author of It's Not Your Hair)
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