A Life in Books: Clive Barker

The horror master known for penning "Hellraiser" and last year's demon-narrated novel "Mister B. Gone" says he draws inspiration from an unlikely source: classic children's literature. His picks:

My Five Most Important Books
1. "Tales of Mystery and Imagination"
by Edgar Allan Poe. Terse, Gothic fiction that goes to the heart of American culture.

2. "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. The yang to Poe's yin: Melville is an inclusionist. The bathwater, the sink, everything goes in there.

3. "Peter Pan" by J. M. Barrie. The abiding myth of my childhood and of most gay men's lives: infinitely postponed adulthood. I will never have children; I will never take on adult responsibilities.

4. "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Extraordinary, crystalline, beautiful prose. I keep a copy on my desk.

5. "The Long Firm" by Jake Arnott. He captures the gay underworld of London.

A lauded book you've resisted: Michael Cunningham's "The Hours." I saw the movie first, which was dumb. I've got the Nicole Kidman version of Virginia Woolf stuck in my head.

A classic that you've never read: Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Those bloody Russian names! I tried so hard, but eventually I'm flipping to that family tree and it's, like, ugh.