Robert Beveridge's Reviews > The Infinite

The Infinite by Douglas Clegg
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Jan 22, 08

bookshelves: finished, cle-pub-lib
Read in January, 2004

Douglas Clegg, The Infinite (Leisure Books, 2001)

I didn't exactly go to school with Doug Clegg, but we shared a fraternity at the same school ten years apart. (No word on whether he was a previous occupant of my room, though that would probably explain some of the many unexplainable things that happened within its walls.) I found this out a little less than a decade ago from Clegg himself, and ever since then I've had the "you know, I really should pick up one of this guy's books" thing turned up a notch up under the constantly-boiling saucepan that is my TBR stack. But somehow I never got round to it till just now.

Here's your apology, Doug. I really did mean to get my hands on The Halloween Man and You Come When I Call You. But don't worry, now that I've actually read one, I will be attempting to pick them up posthaste (in the ragtag way I do such things, which often involves used bookstores and library book sales).

The Inifinite starts out, well, slow. Glacial. Seeming as if it's going to be just another incarnationof The Haunting, which has had so many pale imitators over the years. But get yourself past the prologue and you realize that was just the chain pulling the car up the first hill, and you're sitting at the top. You sit there for a sickeningly long time letting the anticipation buld as Clegg takes his sweet time filling us in on the characters. In fact, he spends over half the book this way. But anyone who's seen the film Lord of Illusions, and the disturbing flashbacks Scott Bakula suffers therein, should be well aware that filling in background material can be loads of fun by itself.

Then you actually get to the house. And yes, the story does start sounding a bit like The Haunting (or Matheson's The Haunting of Hell House, perhaps a closer parallel) retold for a modern, more blood-soaked audience. And while it's impossible to say what it is about the book that makes it better than its contemporaries without giving away a major plot point, trust me. It's something not done nearly enough in novels, and almost never in movies, but when it is it's an autmatic step towards classic status.

Am I saying that in seventy years Doug Clegg will be as read and revered as Lovecraft is now? Nah, he's probably more an M. R. James, someone the aficionados are well aware of, but that the outside world is unfamiliar with. Let them rot in their ignorance, we have Douglas Clegg. *** ½
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