Monday, August 08, 2011
Coldheart Canyon, by Clive Barker
From the inside flap:
"Hollywood has made a star of Todd Pickett. But time is catching up with him. He doesn't have the perfect looks he had last year. After plastic surgery goes awry, Todd needs somewhere to hide away for a few months while his scars heal.
"As Todd settles into a mansion in Coldheart Canyon - a corner of the city so secret it doesn't even appear on any map - Tammy Lauper, the president of his fan club, comes to the City of Angels determined to solve the mystery of Todd's disappearance. Her journey will not be an easy one. The closer she gets to Todd the more of Coldheart Canyon's secrets she uncovers: the ghosts of the A-list stars who came to the Canyon for wild parties; Katya Lupi, the cold-hearted, now-forgotten star for whom the Canyon was named, who is alive and exquisite after a hundred years; and, finally, the door in the bowels of Katya's dream palace that reputedly open up to another world, the Devil's Country. No one who has ever ventured to this dark, barbaric corner of hell has returned without their souls shadowed by what they'd seen and done. . ."
Coldheart Canyon isn't one of Barker's better works - it's overly long by at least a hundred and fifty pages and its characters suffer from Plot Convenient Stupid Moments (PCSM) from time to time - but it's still a worthwhile read, because few writers can create such grand, century-spanning epics like this. Barker's multilayered story telling is penned in an appropriately lush Hollywood film style, with its beyond-the-norm audacious horrors equally potent.
Even with its flaws, this is a fascinating book that is worth the journey, with its mostly interesting characters, insider's dark take on the Dream Factory and its sometimes transcendant grotesqueries and graces.
I'm glad I read this - once. It's not worth owning, as is most of Barker's other works, but it is worth checking out, if you can tolerate bloat with your read spectacles: to Barker's credit, and to provide a point of comparison, Coldheart Canyon is nowhere near as bloated as Stephen King's post-mid Eighties writing (e.g., any fiction King has published since It).
If you've never read Clive Barker, and are interested in doing so, read one of his other books first, like his three-volume Books of Blood anthologies, or Imajica, one of his many novels.