Magic Terror: Seven Tales
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No one tells a story like Peter Straub. He dazzles with the complexity of his plots. He delights with the sophistication and eloquence of his prose. He startles you into laughter in the face of events so dark you begin to question your own moral compass. Then he reduces you to jelly by spinning a tale so terrifying—and surprising—you wind up sleeping with the lights on.
With Magic Terror, the bestselling author of Ghost Story and The Talisman (with Stephen King) has given us one of the most imaginatively unsettling collections in years. The terrain of these extraordinary stories is marked by brutality, heart-break, despair, wonder, and an unexpected humor that allows empathy to blossom within the most unlikely contexts.
Bunny Is Good Bread us into the mind of a small boy trapped in grotesque circumstances to portray the creation of a serial killer in a manner that compels pity, sorrow, comprehension, and grief-as well as judgment. Hunger, an Introduction, narrated by the ghost of a pompous, self-pitying murderer, evokes a profoundly beautiful vision of earthly life, one appreciated far more by the dead than the living. The award-winning novella Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, a masterpiece of black comedy, draws upon Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener to create a revenge tale in which torture is a moral art and the revenger undergoes a transforming, albeit painful, education.
In the words of Mrs. Asch, the visionary narrator of Ashputtle, "The main feature of adventure is that it goes forward into unknown country." Straub's devotees will be entranced by what their fearless guide has in store for them. Those as yet uninitiated are in for a harrowing literary journey. Enjoy the ride.
• Isn’t It Romantic?
• The Ghost Village
• Bunny Is Good Bread
• Porkpie Hat
• Hunger, an Introduction
• Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff
the floor between them. “Gentlemen,” I said, “although I cannot presently find words to account for the condition in which you found me, I trust that your good nature will enable you to overlook . . . or ignore . . . whatever it was that I must have done. . . . I cannot quite recall the circumstances.” “The young woman has been dispatched,” said Mr. Clubb, “and you need never fear any trouble from that direction, sir.” “The young woman?” I remembered a hyperactive figure playing with the
parked on the street and sailed in the door. People like that, they never hurt people like me. Down in the basement was where they sold the wallpaper, so I huffed and puffed down the stairs, smiling cute as a button whenever anybody stopped to look at me, and shoved myself through the aisles until I got to the back wall, where the samples stood in big books like the fairy-tale book we used to have. I grabbed about four of those books off the wall and heaved them over onto a table there in that
down metaphorically picked up my little paper between thumb and forefinger and slit its throat. “Some of you kiddies are so certain about things,” he said. The rest of his remarks disappeared into a vast, horrifying sense of shame. I returned to my room, intending to lie down for an hour or two, and woke up ravenous ten hours later, when even the West End Bar, even the local Chock Full o’ Nuts, were shut for the night. On Saturday night, I took my usual table in front of the bandstand and sat
something usable from my long night with Hat—I owed it to him. During the first weeks of that summer, I wrote out a version of what Hat had said to me and sent it to the only publication I thought would be interested in it. Downbeat accepted the interview, and it appeared there about six months later. Eventually, it acquired some fame as the last of his rare public statements. I still see lines from the interview quoted in the sort of pieces about Hat never printed during his life. Sometimes they
said the man was going home—he lived in Woodland, didn’t he?” “Then I thought maybe Dr. Garland had been up in The Backs. And Dee thought the same thing, which made him want to go there all the more. Now he was determined. Maybe we’d see some dead guy. We stood there until I understood that he was going to go by himself if I didn’t go with him. That meant that I had to go. Wild as he was, Dee’d get himself into some kind of mess for sure if I wasn’t there to hold him down. So I said okay, I was