Tuesday, December 21, 2004

James Herbert: A tribute

James Herbert: A tribute to the third greatest author of all time

When you're a teenager and coming to terms with the fact that books are, in fact, rather interesting, you need to find an author that appeals to a lad of your age. You've graduated from Famous Five and Roald Dahl, and you are thrashing around for something that reflects your interests. Those being, of course, extremely painful death and shit hot pornography.

Now, you could just clear the local library of every Sven Hassel book they've got and start a collection of works by the world-famous-in-motorway-service-station-shops "Anonymous", but why bother when there's a writer out there combing the two genres in a dream combination?

And along came James Herbert. It's as if he knew what we wanted. And thanks to parents who left copies of his works lying around, there seemed to be an endless supply of extremely painful death and shit hot pornography to feed our impressionable young minds.

The Rats. Giant man-eating rats invade London.

The Fog. Mind-bending hallucinogenic fog invades London, turning people into raving sex-crazed, axe-wielding homocidal lunatics.

The Dark. A bit like The Fog, only darker.

Lair. Giant man-eating rats invade London. Again.

Fluke: Man reincarnated as dog. No sex. No violence. Written solely to stop Mrs Herbert's nagging.

You can see a recurring theme here. Madness or blood curdling threat, with one man giving his all to save the day. But that is not why we read Mr Herbert's works. James Herbert wrote the filthiest porn imaginable, only trumped in recent years by Brett Easton Ellis, who is clearly influenced by the master of the genre*. Singlehandedly, Herbert spawned a generation of extremely twisted teenagers.

Just pick up any James Herbert novel, and let it fall open at random. Chances are, it'll flop open at the start of several pages of crazed sexual action, which often had an explose effect on teenage minds. Not to mention the groinal areas.

Unfortunately, these scenes often climaxed with the protagonists dying in the most foul manner imaginable, eaten by rats, or in one case, having a loaded shotgun shoved up their chuff. Grown men, to this day, still wince at the teenage memory of a rather stirring sex orgy in The Fog culminating in a gentleman losing his genitals to a pair of rusty garden shears. In fact, I think I'll go for a bit of a lie down right now.

James Herbert has sold over 40,000,000 books in his time. That's an awful lot of messed-up teenagers. What a man.

* If you don't believe me, read Glamorama with a) the mankiest sex scene ever and b) some of the most disturbing acts of violence ever committed to paper. I gave my copy to the Help the Aged shop.

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