The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub


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About the Book

Horror novelist Peter Straub creates highly personalized fiction with an allusiveness and ambiguity that deny the genre’s explicit nature. For him, the Gothic style is to be created and recreated in a changing world—Faustian pacts, buried secrets, haunted places, ghosts, vampires and succubi take on strange new shapes and effects. Stephen King describes Straub’s style as “a synthesis of horror and beauty.” Drawing on interviews with Straub and featuring an exclusive interview with King, this study explores the work of the author who has been called “a writer of rare wit and intelligence in a field beset with cynical potboilers.”

About the Author(s)

John C. Tibbetts is a professor at the University of Kansas. His many books on the arts include film, music and literature. He has been twice a finalist for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award.

Bibliographic Details

John C. Tibbetts

Foreword by Gary K. Wolfe

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6492-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2733-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword: Locating Peter Straub (by Gary K. Wolfe) 1
Introduction: “The Juniper Tree” 5
One. “The Magic Taxi”: The Short Stories 19
Two. “A Dark Necessity”: Straub’s American Gothic 26
Three. “King of the Cats”: The Fairy Tales 50
Four. “Protean Impostures”: Straub and the Doppelgänger 71
Five. “Datchery’s Children”: Stories of Crime and Detection 95
Six. “The Third Voice”: Straub and Stephen King 146
Seven. “Invisible Ink”: On Writers and Writing 168
Appendix: “A Magellan of the Interior”: An Interview with Straub 195
Chapter Notes 207
Bibliography 237
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Bram Stoker Award—Horror Writers Association
  • “A major work of biography and criticism…a must read for any admirer of this restlessly protean man of letters”—The Washington Post
  • “John Tibbetts’ study is a detailed and long overdue look at an author whose dark psychological insights and brilliantly crafted sentences have placed him in the front rank of American authors for nearly four decades.”—Gary Wolfe, Roosevelt University
  • “Straub brings a poet’s sensibility to the field, creating a synthesis of horror and beauty. He writes a beautiful prose line that features narrative clarity, sterling characterization, and surprising bursts of humor.”—Stephen King
  • “Peter Straub has demonstrated the strength of American lit in modern horror by reclaiming the pioneering themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, segueing through Shirly Jackson, and elegantly matching both with Stephen King’s rock star vigor.”—Greg Bear, Darwin’s Radio and Blood Music
  • “With The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub, John Tibbetts makes a major contribution to the study of one of America’s finest, most underrated novelists. Approaching Straub’s complex body of work from a variety of thematic and literary perspectives, Tibbetts has written an intelligent, highly readable volume that no future Straub scholar can afford to ignore. This is an important…and very necessary…book.”—Bill Sheehan, At the Foot of the Story Tree
  • “It is difficult to speak of Peter Straub except in superlatives. Gifted with a prose style of impeccable fluency and elegance, he is also able to create scenes of clutching terror, heartrending pathos, and baffling mystery that set him several cuts above his contemporaries. To refer to him merely as a writer of horror tales is absurdly limiting. When we read him, we experience far more than merely a shudder up our spine; we gain profound insights into ourselves and others.”—S. T. Joshi, Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction
  • “Peter Straub has created a literary form all of his own, mating the macabre with the magical, interweaving the psychological with the uncanny, illuminating the dark side of humanity with the light of the fantastic. His vision is profoundly personal, his prose enviably elegant. Constantly surprising, his work invigorates and enriches the imagination, and it deserves to be savoured like the finest vintage.”—Ramsey Campbell, Ancient Images, Incarnate
  • “Peter’s gift of language is so great that he uses it to tear apart, break down and open up the ways that we see, perceive speak of and understand everyday life and experience. And in doing so, he reveals to us and draws us into the Gothic dimension, which is always with us, like a shadow.”—Thomas Tessier, Finishing Touches and Rapture

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