The Yattering and Jack

Clive Barker’s story “The Yattering and Jack” is definitely one of the more interesting stories we have read so far. It had its own set of problems but still was able to remain quite interesting and funny. This is the story of the Yattering, a lower demon from Hell, and his attempt to corrupt Jack’s soul. But Jack takes everything that the Yattering does and chalks it up to some logical explanation, be that dogs or a settling foundation. Nothing seems to bother him, until the end when we are told he was just playing along but we’ll get to that a little later.

First, I want to talk about the Yattering himself. This was an interesting little demon. We don’t really know

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what he looks like until the end but I definitely imagined this little red imp dude, mainly because he was a lower demon and red is often associated with Hell. Imagine my surprise when I saw this cover art. Pretty much what I had imagined.

But what really made the Yattering unique for this story was that we were inside his head for the majority of the story. We felt how frustrated he was getting when he couldn’t corrupt Jack. We felt how he lusted for the woman across the street. Unlike Rawhead Rex, whose head we were also able to get inside, here we actually sympathized with the Yattering. I felt bad for the little guy who really was trying to do his job and failing at it. Seeing all of these emotions running through the Yattering served to humanize him in a way that we haven’t really seen so far. And it worked for me. I wasn’t afraid of the Yattering in the sense of how I might feel towards other demons, Although I am sure if this little guy was causing trouble around my house, I’d probably freak out a little. But all in all, the little demon was believable and served his purpose well. Kind of reminded me of Lucifer in Paradise Lost, where we understand him on some level and even sympathize with him, even if we aren’t necessarily supposed to root for him. (I have to say, I think I kind of did though for a little while.)

Now, for a couple issues that didn’t work in the story for me. One was the head hopping that started happening as soon as Jack started playing a larger role. When the confrontation between the two starts to happen, we are jumping back and forth on each one’s feelings and it started to get confusing, especially with the use of “he” pronouns. I had trouble at first understanding which mind we were in from paragraph to paragraph, especially when the bomb is dropped that Jack knows about the Yattering and knows how to defeat him. And that’s a whole other issue in and of itself. How did Jack know about the Yattering and find out all of this information? It came out of nowhere and seemed really abrupt, which worked as a surprise for the Yattering but confused me, but I digress. The head hopping just didn’t work for me. It happened too often and too confusingly.

The ending was really great, using the che sera sera to tie everything up and bring the story full circle. It got my stamp of approval. Overall, I enjoyed the short story and would recommend others to read it.

Also, just for fun, there is an episode of Tales from the Darkside on The Yattering and Jack. It’s Season 4, Episode 7. It’s quirky and starts on Christmas Day but a fun little episode to watch. Oh, and it stars Phil Fondacaro as the Yattering, which was by far the worst possible interpretation I could think of.¬†Image

Clive Barker’s “Rawhead Rex”

Clive Barker’s short story “Rawhead Rex” was my definition of a story about wanton death. Nearly every character that is ever focused on in the story dies horribly at the hands of Rawhead. I honestly didn’t know who our protagonist was going to be, or even if there would be one, until closer to the end of the story. And that’s okay because it worked to show the sheer, unstoppable power that Rawhead wielded.

Unlike most stories, the first character we meet dies shortly thereafter. He isn’t our protagonist and that’s okay because he seemed like a bit of an ass to me. We meet Ron, who becomes our hero, early on but I read over him, thinking he was just an example of a city guy out in the village where he didn’t really belong. He pops up here and there, talking with more people who died. It introduced us to him before we actually needed to focus on him, which actually worked surprisingly.

Rawhead as a character was gruesome and disgusting. First off, he is a giant, standing like 9 feet tall. He is also described as having a mouth that opens like a cavern in which he eats men and children. Rawhead is a gruesome guy who I definitely wouldn’t want to run into in a back alley. But what was really great was how intriguing Rawhead was. We were able to get into his head and see how he thought. We saw how destructive he naturally was, how arrogant he was and how inferior he felt humans to be. It put a new spin on the monster that we haven’t actually seen yet. While we certainly don’t like Rawhead, he was definitely given more depth than other stereotypical monsters we have seen so far in the course. And I think it was easier to identify with certain characteristics Rawhead exhibited, like greed, anger, fear, and power.

Another great aspect of the story was the use of the feminine as Rawhead’s weak point. Early on, he won’t eat one of the women because she is on her period and it seems like that repulses him. But in fact, he can’t because it is what he fears. By the end, we see that it was the ancient fertility goddesses that were able to frighten Rawhead into submission so he could be buried in the earth. (Although he is killed at the end of this piece.) This is cool because we see Rawhead as an exhibit of the masculine. We see him urinating on a man at one point and masturbating in another. To be defeated by the feminine was very believable for me as this monster’s weakness.

Finally, I wanted to talk about beginnings and endings. First off, the opening line of this story was fantastic. “Of all the conquering armies that had tramped the streets of Zeal down the centuries, it was finally the mild tread of the Sunday tripper that brought the village to its knees.” This line was elegantly written and drew me in, making me want to read more to find out how this worked into the Rawhead Rex myth.

The ending of this was also done well. We don’t know what happens to Ron but, unlike “Breeding Ground”, here it is okay. We don’t need to know because we are a) not overly attached to Ron and b) used to death by this point. The last paragraph was also interesting, showing the union between Rawhead and the earth. In a way, he was returning to the earth where he was imprisoned. But also, in another way he was mating with the female. His penis ejecting fluid to enter into the womb of Mother Earth. Just an interesting connection that I may or may not be reading too much into.

Overall, I think this story worked well as a short story but definitely couldn’t be extended into a full length novel.