This outstanding collection of 16 reprints highlights what makes Straub such a master of genre-bending horror and suspense, and it’s an effective introduction for readers new to his considerable body of work. Each story has merit, though a few of the quickies don’t punch as hard as the longer works. In the deeply unsettling and uncomfortable “Blue Rose,” a young Harry Beevers (who appears as an adult in 1998’s Koko) reacts to his troubled home life by doing very bad things to his younger brother, Little Eddie. In “The Juniper Tree,” Straub paints a heartrending portrait of sexual abuse and its lasting repercussions as a young boy finds escape in movies, only to discover a monster lurking in the theater’s shadows. “The Buffalo Hunter” is an unnerving story about a man with a very active internal life who discovers he has an unusual ability (and amasses an impressive baby bottle collection). “The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” features a couple with unusual and painful proclivities who take a creepy yacht trip down the Amazon River. Straub has a proven knack for black humor, and he coaxes the nightmarish out of the mundane with startling ease. This is a powerful collection from an enduring favorite in literary chills. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company. (Feb.)
"Did I say he was dead? What I said was, he is…gone." Welcome to an odd world in which the dead never quite go away, and the living are—well, not quite there. Readers of horror know, even if characters in movies and books do not, that it's never a good idea to go up to the attic, even when it's euphemized as "the upstairs junk room." Bad things happen in such dark interior spaces, as the characters in Straub's long opening story learn; in a narrative marked by a tenuous hold on time and an even more tenuous one on reality, an unfortunate young man finds that hypnosis is maybe not such a good idea after all, leading to an event that, the protagonist tells us, "virtually destroyed my family." And not just virtually. Straub (In the Night Room, 2004, etc.), who, this collection ably reveals, has affinities with both Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, likes nothing more than a good, taut, psychologically charged yarn that raises more questions than it answers: "I thought of myself as a work of art," a denizen of one fairy tale-like story remarks. "I caused responses without being responsible for them." In a Straub-ian world, proper responses include puzzlement, nervousness, and fear, to say nothing of indulging in coprophiliac moments that are going to ruin some unfortunate housekeeper's day. Denial is also allowed; as another of Straub's characters yelps, bewildered at the thought that Herman Melville's story "Bartleby the Scrivener" should be esteemed enough to be taught in school, "I never went to any college, but I do know that nothing means what it says, not on this planet." That's exactly right, one reason not to trust Straub's narrators, whose worlds include an unhealthy amount of free-floating anger and not a little craziness—though if anger and craziness can bring a taxi-flattened cat back to life, then so much the better. Dark, brooding fiction from a master of the form. And take our word for it: don't go up to the attic, even if it is just a junk room.
Since the publication of Ghost Story in 1979, Peter Straub has been one of the dominant figures in contemporary horror fiction. Like his friend and occasional collaborator Stephen King, he has taken on a marginalized subgenre and elevated it, demonstrating, in the process, its largest, darkest possibilities. There may be no better introduction to Straub’s accomplishments than this new, aptly titled career retrospective…Interior Darkness is a book for those who think they dislike horror, as well as for those who love and respect the genre. Filled with terror, wit and unexpected grace notes, it’s a remarkable achievement that reflects the arc of a lengthy and celebrated career.”
--The Washington Post
“Peter Straub's shorter fictions are like tiny novels you drown in: perfectly pitched, terrifyingly smart, big-hearted, dangerous, and even cruel. Interior Darkness shows off his range, his intelligence, his bravery and, sometimes, at the edges, allows glimpses of his fierce sense of humour. Straub deploys a host of voices that cajole and whisper and talk to you from the darkness. If you care about the short story, you should read this book, and watch a master at work.”
--Neil Gaiman, author of The Ocean at the End of the Lane
“There is nothing conventional or familiar in Peter Straub’s exquisitely unsettling stories. Questions of genre be damned; Interior Darkness embraces a dizzying array of literary styles and structures and defies easy categorization. What a thrill to read an audacious storyteller writing at the very top of his game.”
--Bill Clegg, author of Did You Ever Have A Family
"Though he's one of the most successful practitioners ever of the art of scary stories, Peter Straub has never been satisfied with its common limits. These stories show him ranging far and high into the uplands of literary fiction without ever leaving behind the dark impulses and fears that make his work so powerful."
--John Crowley, author of Little, Big and the Aegypt Cycle
"If the only mass-market horror writer you've ever read is Stephen King, you owe it to yourself to check out Peter Straub....These stories take a while to work on you. Reflection and rereading is sometimes necessary. But nobody said art is always easy and readers who invest in this collection will feel more rewarded than not."
“There’s a twisted beauty, a bracing taste for experimentation and a chilly sense of humor in Straub’s shorter fiction. Even if we can’t always tease out a definitive meaning from every selection in “Interior Darkness,” rarely do the stories fail to provide a tantalizing view of the darkest reaches of the imagination.”
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Within the collection there’s an evolution of thematic concerns and an increasing willingness to experiment with form without sacrificing Straub’s trademark narrative drive, his impeccable style, his fierce wit and deep empathy for his characters, or his ability to move his readers. Peter’s stories hit you with a bouquet of flowers and a cudgel at the same time."
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Brilliant, spooky, almost addictive in the way the stories roll out before the readers’ eyes, Interior Darkness is the definitive collection of Peter Straub’s best short works....Interior Darkness is the perfect collection for those who want a taste of the Straub magic but haven’t braved diving into any of his brilliant novels. And, for those familiar with his work, it is a chance to revisit some classics that deserve a fresh release. A “Best of” or not, Interior Darkness is sure to entertain and dazzle all who take in its exceptionally crafted words."
--New York Journal of Books
“This outstanding collection of 16 reprints highlights what makes Straub such a master of genre-bending horror and suspense, and it’s an effective introduction for readers new to his considerable body of work…Straub has a proven knack for black humor, and he coaxes the nightmarish out of the mundane with startling ease. This is a powerful collection from an enduring favorite in literary chills.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Straub’s stories stopped me in my tracks, often with a chuckling grimace, and forced me to take stock anew of a world I wrongly thought I understood….Straub is a funny, engaging, quick man, with a dark restless mind, a cantankerous streak, and lacerating self-awareness.”
--ElectrictricLiterature.com, Adrian Van Young
"A must-read for the author’s fans and a perfect introduction for anyone new toStraub’s brilliantly original and unsettling brand of fiction."