Trauma, the Minotaur, the labyrinth
November 14, 2015 2:49 AM   Subscribe

"The underground bad place is always in the present, whether literally or in memory, and it is always about the past." Bernadette Lynn Bosky on underground and secret spaces in Peter Straub’s fiction.
posted by thetortoise (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Eee! In lieu of getting anything new from Straub, I will gladly take analysis of his existing work!

I was just thinking about him yesterday at the bookstore...I always check, just in case there's a new book I hadn't heard about, although of course there never is. He makes me a little sad. I was reading an interview with him a few years ago--this was during the PR bit for Lost Boy Lost Girl--where he sounded almost like a hostage to his publisher, talking about how he wanted to start releasing a book a year. You could imagine a stern young editor sitting him down, Peter, Peter, what is this, you take so long, we could really maximize earnings if you.... So Lost Boy Lost Girl was a faster, shorter book, and a lesser book because of it. Not bad, not at all bad, but did feel a little like a quick cash-in on the Blue Rose books. A Dark Matter began to return to form, and the ending was so liberating, but I can only hope these past years he has been scribbling away in his big accounting notebooks some new, massive, dark, troubling story.
posted by mittens at 4:29 AM on November 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

A few errors of fact in this essay (The Throat does not feature the underground arcade in Chinatown, but rather a series of Bad Places owned by the killer's shell corporation).

mittens, I was bummed because LBLG and ITNR were clearly parts 1 and 2 of a metafictive trilogy about the redemptive power of narrative (my favorite part of ITNR was the near-complete transformation of Philip). Kalendar's World, which Underhill/Straub teased at the end of ITNR, was supposed to be part 3... but I believe the publisher cancelled it.

I did not know about The Green Woman graphic novel--I'll have to pick that up somewhere. Straub's got a lot of health problems these days, and as far as I know mostly live-tweets The Bachelor.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:10 AM on November 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've kind of lost track of Straub, but Shadowland is one of my favorite books and I've re-read it several times.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:13 AM on November 14, 2015

A few errors of fact in this essay (The Throat does not feature the underground arcade in Chinatown, but rather a series of Bad Places owned by the killer's shell corporation).

Yeah, I think that sentence is supposed to say Koko rather than The Throat.
posted by thetortoise at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2015

Straub is one of my absolute favorite writers, but when I put this up I didn't know if anyone at all would respond, so I'm glad there are a few of you out there. I love Lost Boy Lost Girl (more mixed on In the Night Room, and it makes sense that there's a missing piece there), but it's definitely a departure from the bigger novels, and I'm not sure if it works outside the Blue Rose context. I'm always thrilled to see the rare new piece of short fiction from him. I wish the full text of "Little Red's Tango" was up online so I could put it in the strange fiction thread.

mittens, have you read the expanded version of A Dark Matter (The Skylark)? It's been on my shelf but I haven't gotten to it yet.
posted by thetortoise at 1:48 AM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nooo! I keep waiting for it to show up used nearby, but it hasn't yet.

I'm very sorry to hear he is in ill health. The Blue Rose books have been such a source of whatever the horrified version of joy is called, and "The Juniper Tree" is so burned into my memory hardly a week goes by without thinking about it, that I had taken it for granted he would always be with us, writing more for me to read. Although now I will have to find his twitter feed apparently!
posted by mittens at 11:13 AM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh man, "The Juniper Tree" is one of my two lodestars when writing fiction. (The other is "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which of course Mr. Straub can appreciate.)
posted by thetortoise at 12:18 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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