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Ghost Story by Peter Straub
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Ghost Story (original 1979; edition 1989)

by Peter Straub

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2,003583,351 (3.83)141
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Title:Ghost Story
Authors:Peter Straub
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Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)

Recently added byTanuki.kun, Violetthedwarf, private library, etbm2003, heaven_star, UGA_LIBS
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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Ghost Story was a ground-breaking classic written in 1979 that set the bar a mile high for any paranormal tale to come after it. Straub's story isn't a quick read. It's a slow burn through multiple layers that weave in and out of the story. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing. On the contrary, I loved the eerie atmosphere he created along with such detailed characters that weren't flat and one-dimensional. I've read a few negative reviews on here and the common theme is that it was too much or they found it boring. I feel bad for these people that they have no patience and that their short attention spans won't let such a wonderful tale slowly unfold before their very eyes. For those of you that don't want fast food horror and enjoy savoring a creepy atmospheric tale, look no further.

When I say that this story is layered, I mean thick, rich multiple layers. It's set in the small, idyllic town of Milburn in rural New York. In 1979, there is no mention of chain stores or houses that all look alike in Milburn. These are mom and pop run places and every home is as unique as the residents that live in them. A group of older gentlemen that call themselves the Chowder Society meet at a different member's home every month. The rules are that they wear evening clothes, don't drink too much, and rotate through the members on who was going to tell a story for that evening. The meeting following the peculiar death of one of their members, to break the tension, a member asked "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" To which he replied, "I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing." And so the ritual of telling ghost stories began. Unfortunately, this also brought on the nightmares that would plague the members. You see, fifty years ago they were part of a terrible accident and a young girl died and now she wants her revenge.

Straub creates such a realistic setting in Milburn that you'd swear he was from NY. Oddly enough, he grew up in Wisconsin. The atmosphere and character development is what makes Ghost Story so effective. The bitter cold of the winter blizzard. The isolationism of being cut off from one another. The eerie dread that permeates through the story as you try to decipher what is real and what is imagination. So kick back in your recliner. Have a drink by your side and let Straub chill you to the bones with this tale.(less) ( )
  buckeyematrat | Oct 12, 2014 |
It has often been said that this is the scariest story ever written. I'd disagree with that. Part 'Supernatural' (the television series), part psychological thriller, and part small town story, the book is a bit dated.

Even so, Straub is a masterful author, whose words and pacing kept me involved, even when the story felt a little flat or hokey. It was - for me - very hard to follow, through the first half, and the second half just felt like it dragged on a bit too much. Still, given the time period, it might have been more interesting, and well received, in 1979.

I can't say I'd recommend it, because I didn't love it. If you were to choose to read it, I'd recommend trying to do it in as few sittings as possible. The characters get a bit hard to keep track of, and there are so many - all at once, at times - that it can become confusing.

Not my cup of tea, but kudos to the author, nonetheless. ( )
  HeathDAlberts | Sep 14, 2014 |
I enjoyed this, both on a plot level and on the symbolic. There's a LOT going on inside of this book. For me, though, the principal joys of the book are the characters from Milburn. Straub does a wonderful job with these: even the passing characters are sketched in with great care and have a sustainable life of their own. I was never comfortable with Don Wanderley. If fact, the parts of the story narrated through his voice are the weakest. Perhaps this was because Straub wrote that section using Wanderley's literary voice -- something I quickly grew to loathe.

Straub's gives certain mythic types a modern spin, almost a meta-fiction angle, that I liked.

For me, besides the Wanderley section, the weakest part of the novel is the ending. It feels tacked on and abrupt, looses much of the majesty of the remainder of the book. ( )
  Michael.McGuire | May 22, 2014 |
I read this for a course in library school and wrote the following review for class:

Straub is apparently a master at building up the suspense in a long, roundabout way before denying the reader the big payoff. I waded through 567 pages of his wordy meanderings only to be highly disappointed in the lackluster ending. I thought this book was going to be a lot better than it turned out to be. Stephen King gave it high praise, as did many other reviewers. Well, I still don't know what they saw that I missed, but I found myself disgruntled as I realized the story was going nowhere. Regrettably, a waste of time. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Another good story by mystery/horror master Peter Straub. In this one we have it all: a mystery, a serial killer, a haunted house, family drama and ghosts all around. One fine day, Mark Underhill´s mother decides to commit suicide and decides to go out the big way: takes a bunch of sleeping pills, slashes her wrists and ties a plastic bag over her head. Lo and behold, Mark is the one to find her. Mark, who has lately become obsessed with an abandoned house up the street, is positive some force emanating from that house had to do with his mother´s suicide. Along with his best friend Jimbo, they both set out to uncover whatever secrets the house holds. Several days after, Mark disappears and everyone seems to think that he was taken by a pedophile that has been lurking the area and who is believed to have kidnapped and killed other teenage boys. Tim Underhill, famed writer and Mark´s uncle, sets out to dig deep into all those secrets in order to find out what happened to Mark.
I would have given the book five starts if it were not for the ending. I found it pretty meh for such a build up the book created. Other than that it´s a "stay up late and read me" book. ( )
  AleAleta | Feb 26, 2014 |
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Valli Shaio and Gregorio Kohon
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What was the worst thing you've ever done?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671685635, Mass Market Paperback)

In life, not every sin goes unpunished.

GHOST STORY

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:36 -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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