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Magic Terror by Peter Straub

Magic Terror (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Peter Straub

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257544,496 (3.33)3
Title:Magic Terror
Authors:Peter Straub
Info:HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (2002), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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Magic Terror by Peter Straub (2000)



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Showing 5 of 5
Magic Terror is a short story collection from Peter Straub. I typically like his novels and thought I would give his short stories a try. Unfortunately, this collection did not measure up to what I typically expect from Straub. Most of these stories were not particularly interesting or well written. Of the seven stories, the ones that I did enjoy were “Porkpie Hat”, which is about an alcoholic saxophone players who had a childhood experience with witchcraft and murder. I also enjoyed “The Haunted Village”, which is linked to Straub’s novel Koko. The use of these familiar characters worked well in this story. All in all, this was a disappointing collection, and I would recommend skipping it.

Carl Alves – author of Blood Street ( )
  Carl_Alves | Mar 10, 2016 |
I've decided that I'm giving up on this one. Officially quitting. I've read three of the seven stories, and I can't say that I was impressed by any of them.

The first story was just... weird. Like, "Let me think of as many weird things as possible and squeeze them into 18 pages with no connecting narrative and call it a story" weird. It was like a crazy dream that gives you an odd crawly feeling without knowing why. Creepy, yes. Story, no. OK I take that back... if you're adept at putting square pegs in round holes when reading, meaning if you can interpret your way through bunch of words and find a story, then there is one. But it's still not a GOOD one.

The second story was... something, but not horror, not magic, but a weak espionage-like thriller with a predictable twist. Better than the first story, but not impressive.

Third is a Vietnam story, and while it held my curiosity, I wasn't sure what the point was. *shrug*

I read a page of the fourth story, and just... gave up. Other reviews seem to indicate that a reader who sticks with it would be rewarded at the end, but life is too short to waste time on something that I'm not enjoying. I gave this book three chances to grab me, and the most it did was lay a weak hand on my arm after about 3 weeks of trying. Not a great introduction to Peter Straub. I'd expected better, honestly.

Moving on... ( )
  TheBecks | Apr 1, 2013 |
The war-numbed soldier who asks, "Just suppose...,that you were forced to confront extreme experience directly, without any mediation?" speaks for all of the spiritually traumatized souls who navigate the harrowingly rendered hells of these seven tales of suspense and horror. Straub (Mr. X) effortlessly plumbs the hearts and minds of a range of well-developed charactersAincluding a reflective assassin for hire, a five-year-old victim of domestic violence, an aging black jazz musician and a pompous Wall Street financial adviserAto locate epiphanic moments when their lives careened "out of the ordinary" and into the path of deforming private tragedy. In "Ashputtle," an implied murderess blames her crimes on an emotionally deprived childhood in which she imagines herself a modern Cinderella victimized by her cruel stepsisters. "Bunny Is Good Bread," an unnerving portrait of the psychopath as a young boy, follows young Fee Bandolier as he maladjusts to an unbearably gothic home situation in which his father has beaten his mother into a coma. "Porkpie Hat" is related as an alcoholic saxophonist's confession of a childhood brush with witchcraft, murder and miscegenation that continues to inform his blues-haunted music. In several of the talesAmost notably "The Haunted Village," which links to the novel Koko (1988) and stories from his previous collection, Houses Without Doors (1990)AStraub skillfully evokes the supernatural to suggest the dislocating effect of intense psychological upset. Mixing stark realism with black comedy, and reverberating with echoes of Conrad, Melville and the Brothers Grimm, these excursions to the dark side of life set a high standard for the literature of contemporary magic terror. (Publisher's Weekly)
  CollegeReading | Jun 11, 2008 |
I like supporting a semi-local writer (Straub is from Milwaukee, WI), but this is not one of his best. ( )
  Djupstrom | Apr 24, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Straubprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kuipers, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, NienkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449006883, Mass Market Paperback)

Peter Straub is a fine sorcerer of horror whose bag of tricks includes stories of pure, unadulterated horror (Julia and Koko), as well as more subtle tales of psychological suspense (Mr. X and Shadowland). Now Straub conjures up Magic Terror, a collection of seven deeply disturbing tales that display his entire range.

"Bunny Is Good Bread" is without a doubt the most haunted tale of all, a harrowing account of a childhood from hell. The scary hero Fee was so traumatized as a 5-year-old by abuse from his father that he disconnects himself from the real world and lives as if in a film. Why? "If you forgot you were in a movie, your own feelings would tear you into bloody rags." Ever since the day Fee watches his mother die a horrible death, he's been tormented: "He was one-half dead himself; half of him belonged to his dead mother."

Fee is not the only character to be struck by a dark epiphany, a life-changing moment. In the lyrical "Porkpie Hat," a famous jazz musician recounts the ghoulish Halloween encounter that charted the course of his destiny, and in the twisted fairy tale "Ashputtle," a fantasy-inclined "princess" seeks retribution for a traumatic incident many years before.

In Straub's world, horror appears in different disguises--the dark mask of child abuse and the bloodied cloak of war ("The Ghost Village"). Regardless of how it shows itself, the effects will haunt long after lights out. --Naomi Gesinger

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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" takes 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." Straubs 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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