The Yattering and Jack

Loved. This. Story. I needed a good yarn where the monster lost out. More than that, I needed to see someone defeat his demon and get to live happily ever after. Even if Jack only had one instead of a billion of those creatures on his back.

I had to confirm the meaning of the word ‘yattering’, as I had only ever heard it used in the context of a conversation. ‘Yatter’ defined as “continuous chatter” gave me the impression of a compulsion. The naming of Jack’s demon after a quirky penchant of non-control was great foreshadowing of what would be the creature’s defeat.

This story was also a pretty nice example of the author choosing the most appropriate viewpoint from which to tell the story. If we had gotten the events from Jack, the element of surprise when we realized he wasn’t as clueless to the situation as we may have originally thought would have gone flat. And again, I loved that the demon was tortured instead of truly torturing Jack. Who can’t relate to having been assigned a job that proved to be hair pulling crazy but non-negotiable? Surely the Yattering’s higher ups knew the assignment would be his downfall when they issued the directive. Had his defeat been a pre-planned method of removing him from their ranks? A conspiracy worthy of the dirtiest company in the corporate underworld.

The rules by which the Yattering was to perform his job were hilarious. “Thou shalt not…”. If the Yattering had all those rules, why would it not believe that Jack might know some of them, too? Of course, it almost had Jack once it attacked during the holidays and Jack thought Gina and Amanda might be in danger. And the dancing, half cooked turkey. I will never be able to view poultry the same. Dressing usually sounds great, but with the reanimated visual we get in this story—I don’t know.

Gradually unveiling the extent of Jack’s true knowledge on the happenings in his house was an interesting tool for Barker to use, and it was very effective. Jack slowly morphed from the naïve, slow witted gherkin importer who had no clue into the savvy, patient genius who understood that he had to keep his fear and his own compulsions in check to best the monster that haunted him. The slow but steady way Jack won the battle with the creature was worthy of the reward of a slave. The Yattering seemed to think his new status of servant to the human would be terrible, but it seemed that he was at least free from the inane orders of his previous masters. This one wasn’t asking it to drive someone insane, or work by rules that were difficult to understand. It was asked only to clean up the mess it had made.

Works Cited

Barker, Clive. “The Yattering and Jack”. Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three.

New York, NY: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1998. 43-64. Print.

Definition of yatter. thefreedictionary, n.d.

Web. 21 Feb. 2012.


About rjjoseph

I am a Texas based writer who must produce words to exorcise the voices that will never quiet until I give them their due.
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2 Responses to The Yattering and Jack

  1. Strawman says:

    I, too, looked up “yattering.” Compulsion is a good interpretation of Barker’s use of the term. I had a slightly different take on the word. I thought that a person who continues talking is an annoyance to others. The Yattering seemed like an annoyance to Jack, so I thought that worked. Compulsion also works because the little guy did seem driven to do what he did. We really never saw any other interests for him. His life was to annoy humans and get them sent to hell–that was all.

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