This was by far my favorite story yet that we’ve read for this class–and the most unorthodox. The story follows The Yattering, a lesser demon, and his quest to corrupt Jack, the son of a woman who owed her soul to hell. Or Satan. Or something. The story was so different than anything I’ve read in a long time, most notably, it’s the first story I’ve read that does any sort of successful head-hopping.
Yattering is told in third person omniscient narration, meaning that it flits back and forth from the demon’s head to Jack’s head. In the beginning, we only get a look at the Yattering’s thoughts and feelings. I believe this was intentional, Barker wanted us to see Jack how the demon sees him, wanted us to underestimate him and think that he’s a simpleton, just as the demon does. Once the middle of the story comes around, however, we start to see glimpses into Jack’s mind. Apparently he is aware of the demonic presence in his home–then we find out that he’s not only aware, but he’s actively working to capture the demon. This adds a sort of delicious twist to the story: both characters are somewhat unaware of the other and are also planning the other’s demise, and the reader gets to watch all of it unfolding from both perspectives. I have to say, I enjoyed it.
What makes it so enjoyable, you ask? It certainly wasn’t the horror element. No, the story wasn’t scary at all, despite being about demon harassing a human. It was humorous at points, and though I’m sure that the ordeal would have been terrifying to live through, the reader was in the Yattering’s head, so he was automatically less scary, for me, anyway. It wasn’t that terribly interesting things happened. Yattering is your pretty run of the mill poltergeist story filled with petty destruction, and much gnashing of teeth. (SHAMELESS PLUG: Much like Kathleen Gulo’s poltergeist story in Continuum: Until Dawn)
I think, in the end, this is a story that shows exactly how valuable it is to write something a little different. The Yattering did not have the best prose, best characters, or best storyline, and yet I enjoyed it the most. Nothing about the story bothered me, and I don’t think I would change anything. I sat back, opened it up on my kindle, and read it straight through–and I was interested the whole time. Those of you who know me understand the significance of this: it takes a lot to get me hooked on a story. Oddly enough, I felt more connected with the Yattering than I did with Jack. The demon was pretty pathetic, weak. So unlike the demons portrayed in everything from religious texts to exorcism movies. You kind of wanted the guy to succeed, simply because he was kind of a failure, making half-thought out plans and whining to his superiors. Jack on the other hand, was cold and calculating. He knew he had to play the demon in exactly the right way to win. I guess that’s what did it: the (old) new way of telling a story with a character that I felt sorry for/connected to. That’s really all you need.
In summary: if you want a quick, entertaining, easy read and love ghost stories, good writing, and a fresh way of telling a story, The Yattering and Jack by Clive Barker is for you. A complete 180 from Rawhead, Yattering shows a different side of Barker: his non-body fluid, non-child maiming side. For me, the story was very enjoyable and I’d recommend it to anyone over the age of 12.
10/10, would read again.