Day 13: Going where I fear to tread
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I’m not a fan of quoting the Bible, but in this instance the phrase is somewhat apt.
When I was a child, I read everything, including stuff arguably beyond my grade level. John Irving, Douglas Adams, Philip K. Dick, and (and who didn’t know this was coming) Stephen King. King, like many readers of my generation, quickly became the go to guy for all things gruesome, gory, and great great great! The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining…and that’s only the “S” titles!
King gave me access to stories and images I was denied in other mediums. Finally I had an open invitation to violence, and gore, and blood, and sex. And also fine writing and amazing characters, but there’s only so much you can expect a young teen to absorb.
But as much as I loved (and continue to love) King and his imagination, these horror stories were still, in a way, safe. There was nothing here that I couldn’t imagine on my own. It was adult, it was amazing, it filled a hole in my soul, but it wasn’t something I didn’t expect, if that makes any sort of sense.
Later on, I became aware of a relative newcomer on the scene, highly praised and recommended by King himself. Clive Barker’s six-book collection Books of Blood promised me horrors galore, exactly what I sought. But what these tales ultimately gave me was far more valuable an experience.
Barker travelled down paths I never knew existed with a fearlessness that astonished me. It wasn’t so much the intensity or strangeness of the stories themselves (although that certainly didn’t hurt). It was that, up until this moment, I had never known people were even allowed to write about things like this.
I don’t want to get into too many details on what, after all, is a family website. But Barker showed me that there is nothing that can’t be written, nothing that can’t be translated into symbols and ink.
I’m not saying there aren’t places I’m afraid to go. But having the license to do so is a powerful feeling.