Peter Straub

Peter Francis Straub (/strb/; March 2, 1943 – September 4, 2022)[1] was an American novelist and poet. He wrote numerous horror and supernatural fiction novels, including Julia and Ghost Story, as well as The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King. Straub received such literary honors as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award, and International Horror Guild Award.

Peter Straub
Straub in 2009
Straub in 2009
BornPeter Francis Straub
(1943-03-02)March 2, 1943
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedSeptember 4, 2022(2022-09-04) (aged 79)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, poet
Alma mater
GenreHorror
Notable awardsBram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award, and International Horror Guild Award
Spouse
Susan Bitker
(m. 1966)
Children2, including Emma and Ben Straub
Website
www.peterstraub.net

Early life and educationEdit

Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Gordon Anthony Straub and Elvena (Nilsestuen) Straub.[2][3] At the age of seven, Straub was struck by a car, sustaining serious injuries. He was hospitalized for several months, and temporarily used a wheelchair after being released until he had re-learned how to walk. Straub has said that the accident made him prematurely aware of his own mortality.[4]

Straub read voraciously from an early age, but his literary interests did not please his parents; his father hoped that he would grow up to be a professional athlete, while his mother wanted him to be a Lutheran minister.[5] He attended Milwaukee Country Day School on a scholarship, and, during his time there, began writing.[5]

Straub earned an honors BA in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1965, and an MA at Columbia University a year later. He briefly taught English at Milwaukee Country Day, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1969 to work on a PhD, and to start writing professionally.[6]

CareerEdit

After mixed success with two attempts at literary mainstream novels in the mid-1970s (Marriages and Under Venus), Straub dabbled in the supernatural for the first time with Julia (1975).[7] He then wrote If You Could See Me Now (1977),[8] and came to widespread public attention with his fifth novel, Ghost Story (1979),[9] which was a critical success and was later loosely adapted into a 1981 film starring Fred Astaire.[10][11] Several horror novels followed, with growing success, including The Talisman and Black House, two fantasy-horror collaborations with Straub's long-time friend and fellow author Stephen King.[12]

 
Straub at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival for a panel on how far a writer can go between reality and fantasy.

After a fallow period, Straub re-emerged in 1988 with Koko, a nonsupernatural (though horrific) Vietnam novel.[13] Koko was followed in the early 1990s by the related novels Mystery and The Throat, which together with Koko make up the "Blue Rose Trilogy".[14][15] These complex and intertwined novels extended Straub's explorations into metafiction and unreliable narrators.[15]

The ambitious mainstream thriller The Hellfire Club was published in 1996.[16] Mr. X followed in 1999 with a doppelgänger theme. In 2001, Straub and King reteamed for Black House, a loose sequel to The Talisman tying that book in with King's Dark Tower Series. 2003 saw the publication of a new Straub novel Lost Boy, Lost Girl followed by the related In the Night Room (2004). Both of these novels won Stoker awards.[17]

Straub also edited the Library of America volume H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (2005).[18] His novel Mr. X had paid tribute to Lovecraft, as the eponymous Mr. X wrote in a similar style.[19][20]

Straub published several books of poetry.[21] My Life in Pictures appeared in 1971 as part of a series of six poetry pamphlets Straub published with his friend Thomas Tessier under the Seafront Press imprint while living in Dublin.[21][22] In 1972 the more substantial chapbook Ishmael was published by Turret Books in London.[21][23] Straub's third book of poetry, Open Air, appeared later that same year from Irish University Press.[21][24] The collection Leeson Park and Belsize Square: Poems 1970 – 1975 was published by Underwood-Miller in October 1983. This collection reprints much of Ishmael along with previously uncollected poems, but none of the poems from Open Air.[21][25]

A critical essay on Straub's horror work can be found in S. T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001).[26] At the Foot of the Story Tree by Bill Sheehan discusses Straub's work before 2000.[27][28]

Straub also sat on the contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions, and he guest-edited Conjunctions: 39, an issue on New Wave Fabulism.[29]

 
Straub (right) with Rob Hood in 2007

In 2007, Straub's personal papers were acquired by the Fales Library at New York University.[30]

February 2010 saw the release of what would be Straub's final novel, A Dark Matter.[31]

In 2016, co-author Stephen King said that he and Straub had plans to write a third Talisman book in the future. King says that the collaboration for the series was "natural," and that the two were excited to work together. On Straub's contribution to horror fiction, King says, "he brought a poet's sensibility to the field, creating a synthesis of horror and beauty" and "he writes a beautiful prose line that features narrative clarity, sterling characterization, and surprising bursts of humor."[32] Mid-2021, in a podcast with Dead Headspace, Straub described as unlikely that he would be able to keep up with Stephen King anymore, therefore it is very unlikely that he would co-write a third Talisman with Stephen King.[33]

Personal life and deathEdit

In 1966, Straub married Susan Bitker.[34][35] They had two children, Benjamin, and Emma Straub, who is also a novelist. The family lived in Dublin from 1969 to 1972, in London from 1972 to 1979, and in the New York City area from 1979 onwards.[36]

Straub died on September 4, 2022, aged 79, from complications of a broken hip.[36][12] At the time of his death, he and his wife lived in Brooklyn.[36]

BibliographyEdit

NovelsEdit

Short story collectionsEdit

NovellasEdit

  • 1982: The General's Wife[66]
  • 1990: Mrs. God (collected in "Houses Without Doors")[58]
  • 1993: The Ghost Village (collected in Magic Terror) (winner of World Fantasy Award) (1993)[67][59]
  • 1993 Bunny is Good Bread (collected in "Magic Terror")[59]
  • 1997 Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff (collected in "Magic Terror")[59]
  • 1999 Pork Pie Hat (collected in "Magic Terror")[59]
  • 2010: A Special Place – The Heart of a Dark Matter (outtake from "A Dark Matter")[68]
  • 2011: The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine[69]
  • 1990/2012: The Buffalo Hunter: A Novella (originally collected in "Houses Without Doors" in 1990)[70][58]
  • 2015: Perdido[71]
  • 2017: The Process (is a Process All its Own)[72]

PoemsEdit

Non-fictionEdit

  • 2006: Sides (collection of non-fiction essays)[75]

Anthologies (as editor)Edit

Omnibus editionsEdit

  • 1984: Wild Animals (collects the novels Julia, If You Could See Me Now, and Under Venus)[79][80]

Limited editionsEdit

  • 2010: The Skylark (an earlier, longer draft of A Dark Matter)[81][79]

Further readingEdit

  • Hauntings: The Official Peter Straub Bibliography, Michael R. Collings[82][83]
  • Tibbetts, John C. The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub. Jefferson: McFarland Publishers, 2016[84][85]

AdaptationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Peter Straub (1943–2022)". Locus Online. September 6, 2022. Archived from the original on September 6, 2022. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  2. ^ Roberts, James P. Famous Wisconsin Authors, Badger Books Inc., 2002, pp. 167–173. ISBN 1-878569-85-6.
  3. ^ Colby, Vineta; Wilson, H. W. (1995). World Authors, 1985–1990. ISBN 9780824208752.
  4. ^ Morgan, John. "Stephen King scares up support for fallen friend" Archived April 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, USA Today, Health section, published February 1, 2002. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Roberts, p. 168.
  6. ^ "Official Web Site". Peter Straub. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  7. ^ a b danielwalterc (January 5, 2018). "A Review of Julia – by Peter Straub". The Books of Daniel. Archived from the original on October 27, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "If You Could See Me Now". www.goodreads.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2022. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Straub, Peter (1980). Ghost Story. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-68563-8.
  10. ^ a b "Overlooked & Underseen: Ghost Story (1981)". Talk Film Society. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Sprague, Mike (December 18, 2020). "Horror History: GHOST STORY Was Released in 1981". Dread Central. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
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External linksEdit