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
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.