Where horror stories took me

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.

For the month of Octo­ber I’ll be post­ing a whole mess of junk about hor­ror stuff. Because Hal­loween. Most­ly just stuff I like, because why else would I flood the Inter­net with non­sense?