GALILEE by Clive Barker


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Though its ghoul and demon quotient is comparatively low, this lavishly campy creeper has a legitimate claim to the title of Weirdest Book Yet by the accomplished author of such genre classics as The Books of Blood (1988) and The Damnation Game (1987). John O’Hara, William Faulkner, and Barbara Cartland might have spent a lost weekend collaborating on this feverish tale of two feuding families whose destinies are catastrophically intertwined. Its narrator--who will attempt a book about his blighted polyglot clan—is Edmund Barbarossa, the crippled stepson of a mysteriously ageless beautiful black woman, Cesaria (who has the power to “raise stones” and “send her image wherever she wants to”), for whom a smitten Thomas Jefferson built a magnificent mansion on the North Carolina coast. Edmund’s quest for information (which often takes the forms of dreams and fantasies) uncovers a wildly melodramatic history begun in presumably biblical times in the vicinity of the Middle Eastern city of Samarkand; an old wrong that dates from the Civil War and must of course be avenged; and a most unwise misalliance between the Barbarossas (“something more than human stock”) and the Gearys, an agreeably malicious cross between the Kennedys of Massachusetts and the Compsons of Yoknapatawpha County. The Gearys are plagued by every sexual and conjugal problem known to man and woman, but what really ticks them off is the irresistible (to their women) animal magnetism of Cesaria’s Heathcliff-like son Galilee, a brooding sex machine whose services to womankind are subsumed in--believe this or not--what appears to be a Christ parallel. Barker’s tongue pokes visibly out of his cheek now and then, in a black comedy of miscegenation and its discontents that has to be a sendup of both the Harlequin romance and the American Southern Gothic novel. Overheated and intermittently risible, but the thing is entertaining: the kind of book for which hammocks were invented--not to mention double boilermakers. ($150,000 ad/promo; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-017947-3
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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