One o re e on and re- read

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - E ie by

IF the only mass- mar­ket hor­ror writer you’ve ever read is Stephen King, you owe it to your­self to check out Peter Straub.

His lat­est book, In­te­rior Dark­ness: Se­lected Sto­ries, com­piles the best of his pre­vi­ously pub­lished short sto­ries and adds three new ones.

The col­lec­tion’s ti­tle is apt. Straub has cre­ated some truly creepy char­ac­ters here, all haunted by demons of some sort.

The best of the new works is “The Bal­lad Of Bal­lard And San­drine”, a tale of a kinky cou­ple who ex­plore their fan­tasies over the years while liv­ing among can­ni­bals on the Ama­zon River.

This be­ing a col­lec­tion, it does some­times feel un­even. The sto­ries span 25 years in Straub’s ca­reer. He likes to ex­per­i­ment with writ­ing styles and read­ers may have to pause and think more than they do with pulpier fare. “Lit­tle Red’s Tango”, for ex­am­ple, is writ­ten like a faux gospel, with lists of “Beat­i­tudes” at­trib­uted to the ti­tle char­ac­ter.

But the more straight­for­ward nar­ra­tives in the col­lec­tion – like “Blue Rose” and “Mr. Clubb And Mr. Cuff ” – re­veal Straub’s gift for il­lu­mi­nat­ing the dark­ness in ev­ery­one – from a cruel child who hyp­no­tises his brother to a spurned fi­nancier who plots to pun­ish his wife.

The hor­ror here is both real and su­per­nat­u­ral. For ev­ery boy se­ri­ally mo­lested in a movie theatre (“The Ju­niper Tree”) there’s a man who makes a blan­ket out of baby bot­tles and loses his soul in­side of books (“Go­ing Home”).

All in all, it’s not a col­lec­tion any­one is go­ing to read in one sit­ting. Th­ese sto­ries take a while to work on you. Re­flec­tion and re- read­ing is some­times nec­es­sary. But no­body said art is al­ways easy and read­ers who in­vest in this col­lec­tion will feel more re­warded than not. – AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.