Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peter Straub: Ghost Story

This Gothic Horror/Ghost Story Novel was published in 1979. Many readers consider Ghost Story their favorite of such novels. I finally got around to reading it.

The story opens up on Don Wanderley, a troubled man in his 30s, telling about the worst thing that ever happened to him. The story was fascinating in a put your fingers over your eyes kind of way from the first page. That fascination held for about thirty pages for me. After that, the plot was full of fits and starts and very few shivers.

Sears James, Frederick Hawthorn, Edward Wanderley, John Jaffrey and Lewis Benedikt are friends who have lived in Milburn for years. They weave a narrative with scary ghost stories alongside present and past events-- a tradition that began when their friend Edward Wanderley died a year from the start of the main narrative in Milburn. How did Wanderley die? Who is the new woman in town named Anna? What are the evil forces that are at work in Milburn that threaten to destroy these old men and the town?

The plot is multi-layered with no less than seven stories and points of view going on. This sort of plot can't be easy to do, and it falters soon for me. I read 150 pages of the novel and gave up as I didn't want to slog through over 300 more. I felt few thrills or chills, and I think Straub's spare writing style is part of the reason. I want to see, feel, hear an autumn day, and Straub gives few details. I would choose The Shining or Pet Sematary over this one as great Gothic Horror Novels any day.

You might give this one a try and love it as many do. I loved Julia by Straub, but I have never found another of his novels to equal that one.


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