Saturday, March 12, 2011

Getting Back, Slowly--Peter Straub's A Dark Matter

Interesting read from the POV of a writer.  Might have liked it less if I'd read it when I first encountered Straub in the 80s, solely as a reader.  What I mean is, the ending isn't really in doubt, per se, in the sense that you're not worried about any of the characters.  You know they'll be okay.  It's a little like The Decameron, in a way, maybe like Canterbury Tales as well: basically a small bunch of specifically designed people (they're not stock characters; that's important) who all tell their angle or POV of the same instance.  Speaking of which, An Instance of the Fingerpost springs to mind, as well.  Anyway, you never see one of the major characters--except maybe briefly in an airport, and in a hotel lobby and elevator--and the whole thing may just be an excuse for Straub to go phantasmagoric on us (which he does well), but as a stream-of-consciousness step into evil, and a bit into the unknown, it holds up well.  The existential scene with the boy and the cards and colors representing the realities he thinks he's experiencing was a nice touch.  He still goes on a little too long about the mundane--where they're eating; what they're eating--which is a constant slight, and sometimes not-so-slight, critique of Straub as a writer for me, but he gets away with it.  (One gets the feeling at this time that Straub himself cares a great deal about where he's eating and what he's eating, and that he likes the good stuff.)  In short, if you like various views of the same scenes in a book, and how they're all different, yet the same, you'll like this book, and if you don't, you won't.

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