The Great and Secret Show: The First Book of the Art

The Great and Secret Show: The First Book of the Art

by Clive Barker

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The Great and Secret Show: The First Book of the Art by Clive Barker

In the little town of Palomo Grove, two great armies are amassing; forces shaped from the hearts and souls of America. In this New York Times bestseller, Barker unveils one of the most ambitious imaginative landscapes in modern fiction, creating a new vocabulary for the age-old battle between good and evil. Carrying its readers from the first stirring of consciousness to a vision of the end of the world, The Great and Secret Show is a breathtaking journey in the company of a master storyteller.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061760297
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/17/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 133,603
File size: 867 KB

About the Author

Clive Barker is the bestselling author of twenty-two books, including the New York Times bestsellers Abarat; Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War; and The Thief of Always. He is also an acclaimed painter, film producer, and director. For twelve years Mr. Barker has been working on a vast array of paintings to illuminate the text of The Books of Abarat, more than one hundred and twenty-five of which can be found within this volume.

Mr. Barker lives in California. He shares his house with seven dogs, three cockatiels, several undomesticated geckoes, an African gray parrot called Smokey, and a yellow-headed Amazon parrot called Malingo.


Los Angeles

Date of Birth:

October 5, 1952

Place of Birth:

Liverpool, England


Liverpool University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Part One
The Messenger

Homer opened the door.

"Come on in, Randolph."

Jaffe hated the way he said Randolph, with the faintest trace of contempt in the word, as though he knew every damn crime Jaffe had ever committed, right from the first, the littlest.

"What are you waiting for?" Homer said, seeing Jaffe linger. "You've got work to do. The sooner it's started, the sooner I can find you more."

Randolph stepped into the room. It was large, painted the same bilious yellow and battleship gray as every other office and corridor in the Omaha Central Post Office. Not that much of the walls was visible. Piled higher than head-height on every side was mail. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it, spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

"Dead letters," Homer said. "Stuff even the good ol' U.S. Post Office can't deliver. Quite a sight, huh?"

Jaffe was agog, but he made sure not to show it. He made sure to show nothing, especially to wise guys like Homer.

"This is all yours, Randolph," his superior said. "Your little corner of heaven."

"What am I supposed to do with it?" Jaffe said.

"Sort it. Open it, look for any important stuff so we don't end up putting good money in the furnace."

"There's money in them?"

"Some of 'em," Homer said with a smirk. "Maybe. But most of it's just junk-mail. Stuff people don't want and just put back in the system. Some of it's had the wrong address put on and it's been flying backwards and forwards till it ends up in Nebraska. Don't ask me why, but whenever they don't know what to do with this shit they send it to Omaha."

"It's the middleof the country," Jaffe observed. "Gateway to the West. Or East. Depending on which way you're facing."

"Ain't the dead center," Homer countered. "But we still end up with all the crap. And it's all got to get sorted. By hand. By you."

"All of it?" Jaffe said. What was in front of him was two weeks', three weeks', four weeks' work.

"All of it," said Homer, and didn't make any attempt to conceal his satisfaction. "All yours. You'll soon get the hang of it. If the envelope's got some kind of government marking, put it in the burn pile. Don't even bother to open it. Fuck 'em, right? But the rest, open. You never know what we're going to find." He grinned conspiratorially. "And what we find, we share," he said.

Jaffe had been working for the U.S. Post Office only nine days, but that was long enough, easily long enough, to know that a lot of mail was intercepted by its hired deliverers. Packets were razored open and their contents filched, checks were cashed, love-letters were laughed over.

"I'm going to be coming back in here on a regular basis," Homer warned. "So don't you try hiding anything from me. I got a nose for stuff. I know when there's bills in an envelope, and I know when there's a thief on the team. Hear me? I got a sixth sense. So don't you try anything clever, bud, 'cause me and the boys don't take kindly to that. And you want to be one of the team, don't you?" He put a wide, heavy hand on Jaffe's shoulder. "Share and share alike, right?"

"I hear," Jaffe said.

"Good," Homer replied. "So--" He opened his arms to the spectacle of piled sacks. "It's all yours." He sniffed, grinned and took his leave.

One of the team, Jaffe thought as the door clicked closed, was what he'd never be. Not that he was about to tell Homer that. He'd let the man patronize him; play the willing slave. But in his heart? In his heart, he had other plans, other ambitions. Problem was, he wasn't any closer to realizing those ambitions than he'd been at twenty. Now he was thirty-seven, going on thirty-eight. Not the kind of man women looked at more than once. Not the kind of character folks found exactly charismatic. Losing his hair the way his father had. Bald at forty, most likely. Bald, and wifeless, and not more than beer-change in his pocket because he'd never been able to hold down a job for more than a year, eighteen months at the outside, so he'd never risen higher than private in the ranks.

He tried not to think about it too hard, because when he did he began to get really itchy to do some harm, and a lot of the time it was harm done to himself. It would be so easy. A gun in the mouth, tickling the back of his throat. Over and done with. No note. No explanation. What would he write anyway? I'm killing myself because I didn't get to be King of the World? Ridiculous.

But . . . that was what he wanted to be. He'd never known how, he'd never even had a sniff of the way, but that was the ambition that had nagged him from the first. Other men rose from nothing, didn't they? Messiahs, presidents, movie stars. They pulled themselves up out of the mud the way the fishes had when they'd decided to go for a walk. Grown legs, breathed air, become more than what they'd been. If fucking fishes could do it, why couldn't he? But it had to be soon. Before he was forty. Before he was bald. Before he was dead, and gone, and no one to even remember him, except maybe as a nameless asshole who'd spent three weeks in the winter of 1969 in a room full of dead letters, opening orphaned mail looking for dollar bills. Some epitaph. He sat down and looked at the task heaped before him.

"Fuck you," he said. Meaning Homer. Meaning the sheer volume of crap in front of him. But most of all, meaning himself.

The Great and Secret Show. Copyright © by Clive Barker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Great and Secret Show 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Clive Barker book I read, and after this one book he instantly became my favorite author. The Great and Secret Show is easily my favorite macabre novel of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Curiosity draws insignifigant Randolf Jaffe into the heart of the world, but is it a mirror of his own? In my opinion, this journey into the hidden lives of men is truely fascinating. And, if this novel only wets your appetite for secrets, I strongly suggest the sequel:Everville.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the great works that Clive Barker has written. I recomend it, cery good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first started this book when I was about 14 or 15. A boyfriend of my sister's lent it to me only to take it back when they broke up. At the time I was about two thirds of the way through it. This book left a great impression in my mind, but I never eally pursued it. Before my 20th birthday I ran into this book again, and with a favorable memory of it I bought it. I will never regret buying this book. It truely is one of the best books I have ever read. It will forever be a part of my 'library' right next to my other favorite novels.
szabaddora More than 1 year ago
The Great and Secret Show is subtitled ‘The First Book of the Art’, and it is the first part of a trilogy. Like Barker’s earlier book, Weaveworld, it is a wonderful fantasy tale of epic proportions. Clive Barker has a magical ability to invent other worlds that are so different from ours that reading about them is like travelling to another planet. TGaSS is about two ordinary humans who, gaining power, use it in opposing ways. One becomes the ultimate evil, the other angel-like and pure. Clive Barker works with a wide range of personalities who display all the vices of humanity, as well as the compassion and fragility we possess. Collective consciousness appears symbolized by a sacred sea of dreams. There is a dark quality to the story, which is accentuated by the use of perverted sexual images, some of us would rather avoid. They serve as means to provoke the widest range of human emotions in the reader, even the detachment of horror. Barker skilfully stretches time and space, uses flashbacks, and a loop in time even which hides a space of its own. He contrasts the visible and the underlying phenomena of existence, as well as the surface and the depth of human nature, and human relations. Sex, creation and birth are central themes that roll the action along, one born out of the earlier endlessly. Magic appears where you least expect it, from squalid homes, underground cavers, ordinary places, confronting ordinary people. A symbolic plane of existence is woven through reality, which itself twists, tears and fades. TGaSS is an exciting, gripping story.
swatts More than 1 year ago
The first two thirds of this book are fascinating and kept me glued to my NOOK. Very imaginative stuff - full of wonderful and flawed characters. The last third of the book was a bit drawn out for my taste thus making the entire read feel as if it limped across the finish line when it was actually a spectacular read. I intend to read more of this works. Good Job!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clive at his best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome classic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's been at least ten years since i read this book but I've enjoyed it immensly all over again, if not more this second time around. Bravo! And Thank You Mr.Barker for expanding my imagination and reality yet abgain. Ive read everything he's published at least once....and if i were to be able to compare it to anything he's written, though his diversity in the macabre is unmatched, I would say this... If you enjoyed Coldheart Canyon then you'll love this. Scary as Hell and very erotic. MWA! PERFECTION
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PendulumDC More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorite books.  Excellent read.
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My favorite book of all time. Amazingly intricate and well written.
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