Sunday, December 30, 2007

When The Voice In Your Head Is a Demon’s

Alicia, you’re going to love this. Or hate it. Not sure which, but it sure made me laugh.

I’m reading Mister B. Gone, Clive Barker’s new book. It’s about a demon who got trapped in a book and is attempting to persuade or bribe the reader to release him, and it’s really beautifully written. Of course, I always love Clive Barker’s writing, but this one pulls a neat little trick, a metafictional spoof of the old “dear reader” style narrative.

The text alternates between the story -- how the demon grew up, found himself on the human plane, and so on -- and these dear reader bits where the demon addresses the reader directly in an attempt to persuade the reader to burn the book. (Fire is a major motif in the story.)

So, you know how you were talking about the way dialogue sounds in your head when you read it? Here’s what Mr. Barker’s demon narrator has to add to the discussion:

Huh. That makes me wonder -- the idea of me telling you makes me wonder. What do I sound like in your head? Did you give me the voice of somebody you’ve always hated, or someone you love?

Oh wait, do I sound like you? No, do I? That would be weird, that would be so weird. It’d be like I didn’t really exist, except in your head.

I, Mister Jakobok Botch, presently residing inside your skull…

No, I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all, for obvious reasons.

What reasons? Oh, come on, don’t make me spell it out for you, friend. If I do, then I’m going to tell you the truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t pretty. I might bruise your tender human feelings, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

On the other hand, I’m not going to start telling you lies now, not when we’re so close to our little book-burning.

All right, I’ll tell you. I’m just saying that I don’t think anybody in their right mind would think of your head as prime location, that’s all.

Your head’s a slum. I’ve been here long enough to see it for myself. You’re up to your skull lid with dirt and desperation….

Love it.

So what do we think? Did we ever resolve the issue of the way dialogue "sounds" in our heads when we read? I know I "hear" it with a different cadence and tone than the rest of the narrative.

But still it does sound more or less like my speaking voice. Sorry, Mister B, but as long as I'm reading your book, you're more or less stuck with my guttural Chicago accent.

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