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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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1 Hawthorne Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

lost boy lost girl


lost boy lost girl Cover




Chapter 1

Nancy Underhill’s death had been unexpected, abrupt—a death like a slap in the face. Tim, her husband’s older brother, knew nothing more. He could scarcely be said really to have known Nancy. On examination, Timothy Underhill’s memories of his sister-in-law shrank into a tiny collection of snapshots. Here was Nancy’s dark, fragile smile as she knelt beside her two-year-old son, Mark, in 1990; here she was, in another moment from that same visit, snatching up little Mark, both of them in tears, from his baby seat and rushing from the dim unadorned dining room. Philip, whose morose carping had driven his wife from the room, sat glaring at the dried-out pot roast, deliberately ignoring his brother’s presence. When at last he looked up, Philip said, “What?”

Ah Philip, you were ever a wonder. The kid can’t help being a turd, Pop said once. It seems to be one of the few things that make him feel good.

One more of cruel memory’s snapshots, this from an odd, eventful visit Tim had paid to Millhaven in 1993, when he flew the two and a half hours from La Guardia on the same carrier, and from all available evidence also the same craft, as this day: Nancy seen through the screen door of the little house on Superior Street, beaming as she hurried Tim-ward down the unlighted hallway, her face alight with the surprise and pleasure given her by the unexpected arrival on her doorstep of her brother-in-law (“famous” brother-in-law, she would have said). She had, simply, liked him, Nancy had, to an extent he’d understood only at that moment.

That quietly stressed out little woman, often (Tim thought) made wretched by her husband and sewn into her marriage by what seemed determination more than love, as if the preparation of many thousands of daily meals and a succession of household “projects” provided most of the satisfaction she needed to keep her in place. Of course Mark must have been essential; and maybe her marriage had been happier than Tim imagined. For both their sakes, he hoped it had been.

Philip’s behavior over the next few days would give him all the answers he was likely to get. And with Philip, interpretation was always necessary. Philip Underhill had cultivated an attitude of discontent ever since he had concluded that his older brother, whose flaws shone with a lurid radiance, had apparently seized from birth most of the advantages available to a member of the Underhill clan. From early in his life, nothing Philip could get or achieve was quite as good as it would have been but for the mocking, superior presence of his older brother. (In all honesty, Tim did not doubt that he had tended to lord it over his little brother. Was there ever an older brother who did not?) During all of Philip’s adult life, his grudging discontent had been like a role perfectly inhabited by an actor with a gift for the part: somewhere inside, Tim wanted to believe, the real Philip must have lived on, capable of joy, warmth, generosity, selflessness. It was this inner, more genuine self that was going to be needed in the wake of Nancy’s mysterious death. Philip would need it for his own sake if he were to face his grief head-on, as grief had to be faced; but more than that, he would need it for his son. It would be terrible for Mark if his father somehow tried to treat his mother’s death as yet another typical inconvenience different from the rest only by means of its severity.

From what Tim had seen on his infrequent returns to Millhaven, Mark seemed a bit troubled, though he did not wish to think of his nephew in the terms suggested by the word “troubled.” Unhappy, yes; restless; unfocused; afflicted with both a budding arrogance and what Tim had perceived was a good and tender heart. A combination so conflicted lent itself naturally to restlessness and lack of focus. So, as far as Tim remembered, did being fifteen years old. The boy was trim and compact, physically more like his mother than his father: dark-haired and dark-eyed—though presently his hair was clipped so short its color was merely some indeterminate shade of darkness—with a broad forehead and a narrow, decisive chin. Two steel rings rode the outer ridges of his right ear. He slopped around in big T-shirts and oversized jeans, alternately grimacing and grinning at the music earphoned into his head from an improbably tiny device, an iPod or an MP3 player. Mark was devoted to a strange cross section of contemporary music: Wilco, the Magnetic Fields, the White Stripes, the Strokes, Yo La Tengo, Spiritualized, and the Shins, but also Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy LaFave, and Eminem, whom he seemed to appreciate in an ironic spirit. His “pin-up girl,” he had informed his uncle in an e-mail, was Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

In the past sixteen months, Mark had e-mailed his uncle four times, not so briefly as to conceal a tone Tim found refreshing for being sidelong, sweet, and free of rhetorical overkill. Mark’s first and longest e-mail used the excuse of a request for advice, Tim thought, as a way to open communications between them.

From: munderhill697@aol.com

To: tunderhill@nyc.rr.com

Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2002 4:06 PM

Product Details

Straub, Peter
Ballantine Books
Horror - General
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Publication Date:
September 28, 2004
Grade Level:
6.86x4.22x1.01 in. .40 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Horror » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z

lost boy lost girl Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780449149911 Reviews:
"Review" by , "lost boy lost girl may be the best book of [Peter Straub's] career."
"Review" by , "[A] wonderful webwork of a book....It's funny, and heartwarming, and genuinely scary."
"Review" by , "[F]reshens shopworn horror elements...with an inventive structure...masterfully fleshed-out characters, and real emotional content. As a result, lost boy lost girl proves much more than just a ghost story: Straub puts the natural back in supernatural. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "This is the great novel of the supernatural Straub has always had it in him to write, one as beautiful, moving, and spiritually rich as the best stories in his dazzling collections Houses Without Doors (1990) and Magic Terror (2000)."
"Review" by , "[A] brilliant variation on the haunted house tale....With great compassion and in prose as supple as mink, Straub has created an exciting, fearful, wondrous tale about people who matter, in one of his finest books to date."
"Review" by , "There are no false notes, no tired cinematic tricks; Straub entices, then unnerves us....This is a horror story, yes, but one to be shelved with those written by Straub's peers: the likes of Borges, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James."
"Review" by , "Mr. Straub's latest is an unusually taut, dynamic, spooky display of horror expertise, and its story is deftly told. If Mr. Straub does not quite deliver 'prose as supple as mink,' as Publishers Weekly recently lauded it, he does not overwrite either."
"Review" by , "The veteran horror writer's circuitous 16th outing....Strikingly imagined indeed, but the zigzag structure blurs the momentum and effect of what might have been one of Straub's best."
"Review" by , "Ghost Story tingled our spines and raised goose pimples....lost boy lost girl numbs us to boredom. This is a horror story masquerading as something else — or something else masquerading as a horror story. I'm just not exactly sure what."
"Review" by , "It's taut and surprisingly moving, a treat even for those who don't believe in ghosts."
"Review" by , "Peter Straub has written a real thinking-person's thriller, a nuanced, layered reworking of the haunted-house story, genuinely creepy in spots, but coolly modulated from time to time with wry reminders that it's all only make-believe."
"Review" by , "Rather than scream-in-the-night scary, lost boy lost girl is pit-of-the-stomach disturbing....lost boy lost girl is literate without being stuffy — a hard-hitting, quick read, but one to ponder."
"Review" by , "Like much of his recent output, lost boy lost girl is Straub operating at the height of his storytelling powers — and it's his spookiest, most unnerving solo effort since Ghost Story."
"Review" by , "lost boy lost girl is just as compelling as a sorrowful look at people wrestling with pasts they'd rather forget, or an exploration of the insatiable curiosity of adolescents, as it is a tale of twisted, unfeeling evil."
"Review" by , "[S]trange and lovely."
"Synopsis" by , The terrifying New York Times bestseller from the coauthor of Black House is now available in mass market.
"Synopsis" by , From the bestselling author of Black House and Mr. X springs a groundbreaking story of the persistence of evil, told with tantalizing ambiguity and structural audacity.
"Synopsis" by , The terrifying "New York Times" bestseller from the coauthor of "Black House" is now available in mass market. "Straub's masterful tale of ultrahorror is all that "and" a bag of chips."--"Entertainment Weekly."
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