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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Douglas E. Winter's Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic is a detailed, admittedly partisan assessment of a protean career that has encompassed theater, films, painting, and an astonishing variety of fiction. An effective hybrid of traditional biography, oral history, and literary analysis, The Dark Fantastic follows Barker from his supremely normal Liverpool childhood through his post-university career in fringe theater to his eventual success as a short story writer (The Books of Blood), novelist (Weaveworld, Imajica), and filmmaker (the Hellraiser series). Winter documents Barker's constantly evolving aesthetic in a series of closely reasoned chapters that illuminate the deepest concerns of Barker's idiosyncratic fictions and locate the points of intersection between his life and his work. Winter's analyses are invariably acute and his assessments uniformly generous, though never entirely uncritical.
The Dark Fantastic succeeds as a closely observed account of the evolution of an artist, and as a cogent explication of Baker's dominant -- and recurring -- themes. Among the central notions Winter isolates and explores are Barker's ongoing fascination with the Faustian myth, his lifelong affinity for the monstrous and grotesque, and his belief in the need for a reconciliation of opposing forces: flesh and spirit, reality and dream, the magical and the mundane. The result is a vital, deeply considered look at one of the most potent imaginations of recent years. Bill Sheehan