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Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Ghost Story (original 1979; edition 1989)

by Peter Straub

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2,212672,933 (3.83)154
Title:Ghost Story
Authors:Peter Straub
Info:Pocket Books (1989), Edition: Multiple Printings, Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
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Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

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Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Spine chilling, true to life, WHOA]]]]What Was That? One of the best I've ever read. Good story too! ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
“SF/F/H”, the holy trinity of genre fiction, my neck of the woods for reading. I read a hell of a lot of sci-fi (SF), I read about a couple of fantasy (F) titles a year, but I've been neglecting the horror fiction (H) genre in recent years. The reason is that beside [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1362814142p2/3389.jpg] I don't tend to hear much about exciting new horror titles. Sci-fi and fantasy books win the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards and I am always aware of the winners. As far as I know the equivalent award for horror fiction is the Stoker Award and somehow people don’t seem to talk about them very much. Anyway, to cut a long story short I miss reading horror fiction and want to get back to it.

Ghost Story is Peter Straub’s best known and most popular book, I remember reading it in my teens when it was in the bestsellers list, I remember liking it but for the life of me cannot remember any of the details. Having just reread it this is not so surprising as this is quite a complex story and the title is somewhat misleading. The book is divided into several parts with a nonlinear timeline. It starts off intriguingly with a 24 pages prologue about a man who has kidnapped a strange little girl, but the kidnapper is more afraid of the kidnappee than the other way around. The girl seems to take it all in stride and may, in fact, not be a girl at all. After this prologue the story goes back to a few years earlier where a group of for elderly gentlemen meet on a regular basis to share ghost stories which may or may not be true. They call themselves “The Chowder Society”, apparently there is some kind of therapeutic value for them in telling these stories; there has been an undertone of fear in this little club since one of their members died under mysterious circumstances at a party while in the company of an actress who disappeared.

The next part of the book tells the story of Donald Wanderley, the child kidnapper from the prologue. He is a nephew of the dead club member of the Chowder Society and an author of a horror novel.
After publication of his book he took a temporary job teaching at Berkeley, there he meets and falls madly in love with a mysterious beautiful girl. They get on famously, make wedding plans and one day she just disappears; next thing he knows she meets his brother David in another town, they fall in love and soon David dies under mysterious circumstances. The girl disappears again.

Ghost Story is not a whodunit, but it is not really about ghosts (though a few do show up). The story is quite a complex but not at all hard to follow. A creepy atmosphere pervades the entire book and the reader what is going on with the disappearing girls and the dead people they leave behind. It is meticulously written by Straub. The supernatural element often has a hallucinogenic feel to it and the climax is quite rousing. The characters are well drawn but not particularly memorable. I find that Straub’s storytelling is not as taut as it could be and the pacing drags a little in the earlier parts of the book; too many scenes of the old gents pottering around grumbling. His brand of horror is subtle and often psychological, there is very little in the gore department.

If you are looking for an elegantly written, unusual and complex horror story this is for you, but how many people are looking for such a thing? ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
1. Horror is probably better suited for shorter works.
2. There's nothing remotely frightening or even momentarily unsettling in this book.
3. The writing is mediocre at best.
4. Straub tries to thrown everything he can think of into the book, maybe hoping something will stick. A virtually omniscient evil, telepathy, psychic powers, psychic lycanthropy?, abduction, adultery, domestic violence, blizzards, a black voodoo minstrel, zombies, ghosts. . None of it does.
5. The first half or so was fun to read. It gets quite silly toward the middle, and then collapses in a heap at the end and becomes a chore.
6. A horror story is really just an adventure story with the treasure at the end being escape. Adventure stories are hard to do well, frightening someone is even harder. Maybe that's why so much horror fails. It's just plain hard to do.

2.5 stars ( )
1 vote Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
I am sad to say I disliked more parts of this book then I liked. The first 50+- pages should have been just before the very end, where it chronologically took place. After reading the prologue, even though I did not know how the story got there, it told me enough to know the characters do not die, and they get a long way from where most of the story takes place. That ruins it for me with spoiler type information. There was a long section where the style changed to a journal/character writing about events. The information was entertaining, but dry, not as easy-reading as the other, more narrative style. I spent two days in jury duty (I did not get selected) and most of the time was spent reading the journal parts of this book. It would have been great if I enjoyed it more. ( )
  mainrun | Nov 11, 2015 |
While looking at many "Top 50 horror novel" lists, this one showed up many times. So, I figured I'd give it a try. I was not disappointed. This was my first time reading Straub, and I found that he is very similar to Stephen King in terms of character development and level of description. Ghost Story is very successful at letting the suspense build without giving too much detail away. I'm a big proponent of the idea that showing/telling less is more, and this is the case with this book. A very solid horror novel that deserves to be on those lists, and that every horror fan should read. ( )
  rsplenda477 | Oct 15, 2015 |
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The chasm was merely one of the orifices of that pit of blackness that lies beneath us, everywhere. -- The Marble Faun, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ghosts are always hungry. -- R.D. Jameson
For Valli Shaio and Gregorio Kohon
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What was the worst thing you've ever done?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671685635, Mass Market Paperback)

In life, not every sin goes unpunished.


For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.

Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horror" (The Washington Post Book World) that, like any good ghost story, stands the test of time -- and conjures our darkest fears and nightmares.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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