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Magic Terror: Seven Talesby Peter Straub
Synopses & Reviews
People think that teaching little children has something to do with helping other people, something to do with service. People think that if you teach little children, you must love them. People get what they need from thoughts like this.
People think that if you happen to be very fat and are a person who acts happy and cheerful all the time, you are probably pretending to be that way in order to make them forget how fat you are, or cause them to forgive you for being so fat. They make this assumption, thinking you are so stupid that you imagine that you're getting away with this charade. From this assumption, they get confidence in the superiority of their intelligence over yours, and they get to pity you, too.
Those figments, those stepsisters, came to me and said, Don't you know that we want to help you? They came to me and said, Can you tell us what your life is like?
These moronic questions they asked over and over: Are you all right? Is anything happening to you? Can you talk to us now, darling? Can you tell us about your life?
I stared straight ahead, not looking at their pretty hair or pretty eyes or pretty mouths. I looked over their shoulders at the pattern on the wallpaper and tried not to blink until they stood up and went away.
What my life was like? What was happening to me?
Nothing was happening to me. I was all right.
They smiled briefly, like a twitch in their eyes and mouths, before they stood up and left me alone. I sat still on my chair and looked at the wallpaper while they talked to Zena.
The wallpaper was yellow, with white lines going up and down through it. The lines never touched-just when they were about to run into each other, they broke, and the fat thick yellow kept them apart.
I liked seeing the white lines hanging in the fat yellow, each one separate.
When the figments called me darling, ice and snow stormed into my mouth and went pushing down my throat into my stomach, freezing everything. They didn't know I was nothing, that I would never be like them, they didn't know that the only part of me that was not nothing was a small hard stone right at the center of me.
That stone has a name. MOTHER.
If you are a female kindergarten teacher in her fifties who happens to be very fat, people imagine that you must be very dedicated to their children, because you cannot possibly have any sort of private life. If they are the parents of the children in your kindergarten class, they are almost grateful that you are so grotesque, because it means that you must really care about their children. After all, even though you couldn't possibly get any other sort of job, you can't be in it for the money, can you? Because what do people know about your salary? They know that garbage men make more money than kindergarten teachers. So at least you didn't decide to take care of their delightful, wonderful, lovable little children just because you thought you'd get rich, no no.
Therefore, even though they disbelieve all your smiles, all your pretty ways, even though they really do think of you with a mixture of pity and contempt, a little gratitude gets in there.
Sometimes when I meet with one of these parents, say a fluffy-haired young lawyer, say named Arnold Zoeller, Arnold and his wife
An anthology of horror fiction includes "Bunny is Good Bread," in which a future serial killer's childhood is portrayed; "Hunger," narrated by the pompous ghost of a serial killer; and the award-winning novella, "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff"
No one tells a story like Peter Straub. He dazzles with the complexity of his plots. He delights with the sophistication and eloquence of his prose. He startles you into laughter in the face of events so dark you begin to question your own moral compass. Then he reduces you to jelly by spinning a tale so terrifying-and surprising-you wind up sleeping with the lights on. WithMagic Terror, the bestselling author ofGhost StoryandThe Talisman(with Stephen King) has given us one of the most imaginatively unsettling collections in years. The terrain of these extraordinary stories is marked by brutality, heart-break, despair, wonder, and an unexpected humor that allows empathy to blossom within the most unlikely contexts. "Bunny Is Good Bread" takes us into the mind of a small boy trapped in grotesque circumstances to portray the creation of a serial killer in a manner that compels pity, sorrow, comprehension, and grief-as well as judgment. "Hunger, an Introduction," narrated by the ghost of a pompous, self-pitying murderer, evokes a profoundly beautiful vision of earthly life, one appreciated far more by the dead than the living. The award-winning novella "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff," a masterpiece of black comedy, draws upon Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" to create a revenge tale in which torture is a moral art and the revenger undergoes a transforming, albeit painful, education. In the words of Mrs. Asch, the visionary narrator of "Ashputtle," "The main feature of adventure is that it goes forward into unknown country." Straub's devotees will be entranced by what their fearless guide has in store for them. Those as yet uninitiated are in for a harrowing literary journey. Enjoy the ride.
About the Author
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Peter Straub is the author of fourteen novels, which have been translated into more than twenty foreign languages. He has won the British Fantasy Award, two Bram Stoker awards, and two World Fantasy awards. He lives in New York City and is currently at work, with Stephen King, on a sequel to their bestselling novel, The Talisman.
Table of Contents
Ashputtle — Isn't it romantic? — The ghost village — Bunny is good bread — Porkpie hat — Hunter, an introduction — Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff.
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