The Yattering and Jack by Clive Barker

This week we read another short story by Clive Baker, The Yattering and Jack. I was a little apprehensive after reading Rawhead Rex. That story, while well written, grossed me out. I still want to throw that story across the room but I don’t want to break my computer. I cannot deal with things done to children. It hits to close to home.
I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up The Yattering and Jack, and I enjoyed reading this one. In the beginning, I was a little worried the story would be stale and stall out. The Yattering is a minor demon whose sole purpose is to push people over the edge so Hell can collect their souls. He is assigned to Jack who is as bland as eating a plain rice cake. Nothing gets under Jack’s skin. Not even his wife cheating on him in their house.
As the story progresses, the Yattering tries everything he can to make Jack flinch. I have to give the little guy credit he was persistent. Due to his persistence, we get to know more about him than we do if Jack was the narrator. Everything we learn in the beginning is through the Yattering eyes. From how boring the house is after the wife is dead to how unresponsive Jack is. In doing this Clive kept us in the dark about what was going on. I was worried for a minute that this was going to be a dull story if something didn’t start happening soon.
It was interesting near the end to see that Jack was trying to hide his anger and annoyance. I give him credit he had high self-control. We finally get to hear Jack’s thoughts and see how he perceived the world he was stuck in. I liked how we slowly learn that he knows what the Yattering is doing because of some deal his mother made he has to keep everything under wraps.
I laughed when the Yattering decided to make the Christmas turkey start to dance in the oven. It was gross to hear about it spilling it’s stuffing all over the floor, but all of that was made up by the turkey trying to get out. All I could do was shake my head when Jack played it off as though nothing happened. I think that scene was a great blending of gross and humor with this story. It wasn’t horrific like Rawhead Rex.
The ending was even more comical as we have Jack pitted against the Yattering trying to escape the flying Christmas decoration. The image of Christmas decoration being thrown around like projectiles were funny. It was a well-choreographed dance between good and evil. I felt terrible for his daughter Amanda because she was about to lose her mind. Even though she was strong, the events rattled her. I wasn’t too happy with Jack using his daughters likes this, but it was a great tactic to distract The Yattering and think he was winning. The Yattering overconfidence was finally his undoing. I thought the scene with the two of them locking and unlocking the doors was priceless. The whole time Jack maintains his cool and I sat there and wondered how long with this go on. At the end with the help of his other daughter, Jack was able to make The Yattering so angry that he forgot all the rules they beat into him.
Overall I enjoyed this story. It made me laugh from the beginning to the end. I felt this was a much better story over Rawhead Rex. It was easier to understand everyone’s motivation even if some of it wasn’t revealed to the very end.

2 thoughts on “The Yattering and Jack by Clive Barker

  1. The turkey bit was my favorite part of the story. Shades of Beetlejuice. To me the whole story seemed to be about roommates who couldn’t get along. And the Yattering’s final maneuver was to mess with Jack’s food and destroy his stuff.

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  2. This story really highlights how well horror and humor can work together. While I could see how Jack (internally) and his family were scared of this demon, but the whole situation was just so hilarious. The turkey see was a stand out to me as well!

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