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Literature / The Yattering and Jack

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"The Yattering and Jack" is a short-story by Clive Barker, published in the first volume of Books of Blood in 1984. It tells the story of a man named Jack Polo who's house has a demon in it, the Yattering. The Yattering is out to get Jack but must obey certain rules. But whatever the Yattering tries to do, that damn Jack just rolls with it as if everything is fine!

While the story contains plenty of the trademark Clive Barker material, it was also an early example of his including some Black Comedy.

The story was adapted into an episode of Tales from the Darkside.


The Tropes and Jack:

  • Black Comedy: All over the place. Here is a bit from the frustrated Yattering's perspective: "If a man could not raise a flicker of concern when his cat was exploded in the dining room, what chance had it got of ever breaking the bastard?"
  • Catchphrase: Jack's "Che sera sera".
  • Deal with the Devil: The Yattering is out to get Jack because an ancestor reneged on one of these years ago.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Played with, given the Yattering is a demon, he doesn't wear clothes. He enjoys tying his genitals in knots to be obnoxious, so, in general, everything is probably showing during all of his attacks.
  • Good Is Boring: Jack Polo. So much so that the Yattering is nearly driven insane trying to corrupt him. It's one of his funnier stories.
  • Home Nudist: the woman who lives across the street from Jack spends her days parading naked around her house, apparently with the curtains open since the Yattering entertains himself by watching her. He is NOT pleased when she gets married to someone else.
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  • The Peeping Tom: The Yattering in his boredom of when Jack is not home enjoys watching the neighbor woman across the street who apparently spends most of her time naked.
  • The Pollyanna: Jack Polo is like this, because if he displays any negative emotions, regardless of what happens to him, he will face eternal damnation. Meanwhile, if the minor demon tormenting him directly attacks him without provocation (rather than merely indirectly torturing him), it's broken the rules that govern it and has to be his servant for the remainder of his life as penalty. This is actually Jack's goal in the entire exercise, although the Yattering discovers this far too late to avoid it.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Throughout the story there has been three different Freddy the cats.
  • Satan: In general he goes by the Belezebub name but you get the idea, the Yattering gives him a call for advice and complaints.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Subverted, Jack plays it off as if he doesn't know what is going on in the house, despite seeing everything. It's all a trap on his part.
  • That Poor Cat: The Yattering decides to off several of Jack's cats to try and break him. As stated above, it doesn't work.