DOASKDOTELL BOOK REVIEW of Clive Barker’s “Sacrament”



Author (or Editor):  Barker, Clive

Title: Sacrament

Fiction? Anthology?  

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Date: 1996

ISBN:  0-06-109199-5

Series Name:

Physical description: hardbound

Relevance to doaskdotell: 


Imagine yourself in a modern theater, filled with people. The curtains open upon a Super Panavision shot of the Hudson Bay, near Churchill, Manitoba, in October, when ice is just starting to form.

A solidly built man, Will Rabjohns, in early middle-age, armed with the latest in videocams, appears. We have already been told he is gay, but his demeanor and ambition seem so mainstream. He's the kind of guy who shows up for Adventuring or Outwoods camping trips.

In horror, we watch him get mauled by a polar bear.

But this is just one step in his fight to save the world, from two of Clive Barker's typical minions, a reincarnated couple locked in a stuggle to reclaim the world for other gods.

We will watch a epic story that moves from a boyhood in Clive Barker's rural England, to Boston and then San Francisco where he comes to age as a gay man and watches the AIDS epidemic among his best friends, then back to the battle for his own destiny.

I read this book partly over a weekend in Las Vegas last year; I carried it around (sometimes with my own DADT book) the Luxor Hotel and people (women) would approach me out of nowhere and tell me how mesmerizing this book was for them.

Barker does deal with big themes. A gay person, he believes, can sense things in others than "normal" people can't see. This becomes a tremendous capacity to recognize gifts, and to perceive danger. It just might take this gift to save the world while you save yourself, and go back to the real world as an earthy, organic man.

But the gift seems like a curse. Barker sends his hero through Rosenfels-style soul searching. Rabjohns has spent his life photographing endangered species because each gay man is a race of one, and therefore a separate endangered species. There's all the moralizing, about being a self-promoting queer. Heterosexuals, with their fecundity (and Barker loves those images of wormy reproduction) have their reality made ready for them; gay men have to create their own.

This is certainly the greatest novel to date with major gay character but intended for a mainstream audiences. Can Hollywood take up the challenge to make this masterpiece exactly as Barker conceived it? They will be tempted to tone it down. Let us hope not. This novel, and any film on it, needs its sharpest metaphors to sing to one's heart. The film, done right, will be NC-17 but it could easily be a Best Picture. Who gets the lead role of Will Rabjohns?


Related reviews: Imajica


Back to doaskdotell book reviews

Back to doaskdotell home page


Email me at