A Dark Matter

A Dark Matter

by Peter Straub

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385530132
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/09/2010
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 4,038
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

PETER STRAUB is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. In the Night Room and Lost Boy, Lost Girl are winners of the Bram Stoker Award, as is his collection 5 Stories. Straub is the editor of numerous anthologies, including the two-volume The American Fantastic Tale from the Library of America. He lives in Brooklyn.


New York City

Date of Birth:

March 2, 1943

Place of Birth:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


B.A. in English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1965; M.A., Columbia University, 1966

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 A Few Years Back, Late Spring

The great revelations of my adult life began with the shouts of a lost soul in my neighborhood breakfast joint.

I was standing in line at the Corner Bakery on State and Cedar, half a block down the street from my pretty brick townhouse, waiting to order a Swiss Oatmeal (muesli) or a Berry Parfait (granola), anyhow something modest. The loudest noises in the place were the tapping of laptop keys and the rustle of someone turning newspaper pages. Abruptly, with a manic indignation that seemed to come from nowhere, the man at the head of the line started uttering the word obstreperous. He started out at a level just above ordinary conversation. By the time he found his rhythm, he was about twice that volume and getting louder as he rolled along. If you had to settle on one word to yell over and over in public, wouldn’t you pick something less cumbersome? Yet he kept at it, spinning those four lumpy syllables every possible way, as if trying them on for size. His motive, for nothing actually comes from nowhere, soon became obvious.

Obstreperous? ObSTREPerous? OBSTREPEROUS? Ob-strep?-ER-ous? OBstreperous?

Lady, you think I’m obstreperous now? This is what he was saying. Give me another thirty seconds, you’ll learn all about obstreperous.

With each repetition, his question grew more heated. The momentarily dumbfounded young woman at the order counter had offended him, he wished her to know how greatly. The guy also thought he was making himself look smart, even witty, but to everyone else in the shop he had uncorked raving lunacy.

His variations were becoming more imaginative.

Obstreeperous? Obstraperous? ObstrapOROUS?

To inspect this dude, I tilted sideways and looked down the good- sized line. I almost wished I hadn’t.

Right away, it was obvious that the guy was not simply playing around. The next man in line was giving him six feet of empty floor space. Under the best of circumstances, people were going to keep their distance from this character. Eight or nine inches of white- gray hair surged out in stiff waves around his head. He was wearing a torn, slept-in checked suit that might have been ripped off a cornfield scarecrow. Through a latticework of scabs, smears, and bruises, his swollen feet shone a glaring, bloodless white. Like me, he had papers under his elbow, but the wad of newsprint he was clamping to his side appeared to have lasted him at least four or five days. The puffed-up bare feet, scuffed and abraded like shoes, were the worst part.

“Sir?” said the woman at the order counter. “Sir, you need to leave my store. Step away from the counter, sir, please. You need to step away.”

Two huge kids in Southern Illinois sweatshirts, recent graduates by the look of them, jammed their chairs back and marched straight toward the action. This is Chicago, after all, where big, athletic- looking dudes sprout out of the sidewalks like dandelions on a suburban lawn. Without speaking to anyone, they came up on the homeless guy’s flanks, hoisted him by his elbows, and transported him outside. If he had gone limp, they would have had a little trouble, but he was rigid with panic and gave them no more difficulty than would a cigar store Indian. He went stiff as a marble statue. When he went by, I took in his blubbery lips and brown, broken teeth. His bloodshot eyes had a glazed look. The man kept saying, obstreperous obstreperous obstreperous, but the word had become meaningless to him. He was using it for protection, like a totem, and he thought as long as he kept saying it, he was out of danger.

When I looked into those flat, unseeing eyes, an utterly unforeseen thought jolted me. The impact felt like a blow, and brought with it a cryptic sense of illumination as brief as the flaring of a match.

I knew someone like that. This terrified man with a one-word vocabulary reminded me so vividly of someone that he might have been that person, now in the act of being ejected onto Rush Street. But . . . who in the world could it have been? No one I knew was anything like the damaged character now staggering forward and back on the sidewalk beyond the great windows, still whispering his totemic word.

A voice only I could hear said, No one? Think again, Lee. Deep in my chest, something big and decisive—something I had been ignoring and thrusting out of view literally for decades—stirred in its sleep and twitched its leathery wings. Whatever had nearly awakened tasted, in part, like shame, but shame was by no means all of it.

Although my first response was to turn away from whatever was causing my internal tumult (and turn away I did, with as much of my native resolve as I could summon), the memory of having witnessed an inexplicable illumination clung to me like a cat that had jumped onto my back and stuck its claws into my skin.

The next thing I did involved a typical bit of unconscious misdirection—I tried to believe that my distress was caused by the register girl’s stupid language. Maybe that sounds snobbish, and maybe it is snobbish, but I’ve written eight novels, and I pay attention to the way people use words. Maybe too much attention. So when I finally stood in front of the young woman who had told that ruined creature that he “needed” to leave her “store,” I expressed my unhappiness by ordering an Anaheim Scrambler, which comes with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, and a lot of other stuff including hash browns, and a corn muffin, too. (Alas, I am one of those people who tend to use food as a way of dodging unwelcome emotions.) Anyhow, when did people start framing commands in terms of neediness? And how long had people in the restaurant business been calling their establishments “stores”? Couldn’t people see the ugliness and inaccuracy of this crap? The creature within me rolled back into its uneasy sleep, temporarily lulled.

I parked myself at an empty table, snapped open my paper—the Guardian Review—and avoided looking at the big front windows until I heard one of the staff bringing my tray to me. For some reason, I turned around and glanced through the window, but of course that wretched, half- sane character had fled. Why did I care what had happened to him, anyhow? I didn’t, apart from feeling a sort of generic pity for his suffering. And that poor devil did not remind me of anyone I knew or had once known. For a couple of seconds, a kind of misguided déjà vu had come into play. Nobody thought of déjà vu as anything except a momentary delusion. It gave you an odd buzz of recognition that felt like occult knowledge, but the buzz was psychic flotsam, of no value whatsoever.

Forty-five minutes later, I was walking back to my house, hoping that the day’s work would go well. The minor disturbance in the Corner Bakery hardly counted even as a memory anymore, except for the moment when I was sliding my key into the front-door lock and saw once again his glassy, bloodshot eyes and heard him whispering obstreperous obstreperous. “I need you to stop doing that,” I said out loud, and tried to smile as I stepped into my bright, comfortable foyer. Then I said, “No, I do not know anyone even faintly like you.” For half a second, I thought someone was going to ask me what I was talking about, but my wife was on an extended visit to Washington, D.C., and in the whole of my splendid house, not a single living thing could hear me.

Work, unfortunately, was of no use at all. I had been planning to use the days my wife was gone to get a jump-start on a new novel then known as Her Level Gaze. Never mind the total lameness of the title, which I intended to change as soon as I came up with a better one. Atop my oversized desk, a folder bulging with notes, outlines, and ideas for chapters sat beside my iMac, and a much smaller folder beside it held the ten awkward pages I had

managed so far to excrete. Once I started poking it, the novel that had seemed so promising when still a shimmer of possibility had turned into a slow-moving, snarling animal. The male protagonist seemed to be a bit slow-moving, too. Although I did not want to admit it, the main character, the young woman with the disconcertingly level gaze, would have eaten him for breakfast in a single bite.

At the back of my mind was a matter I did not actually want to think about that day, a far too tempting suggestion made some years ago, God, maybe as many as five, by David Garson, my agent, who told me that my publisher had, who knows how seriously, proposed to him over lunch that at least once I should write a nonfiction book, not merely a memoir, but a book about something.

“Lee,” David said, “don’t get paranoid on me, he wasn’t saying he wanted you to stop writing novels, of course he wasn’t. They think you have an interesting way of seeing things, that’s their main point here, and they think it might be useful if just once, and I mean just once, Lee Harwell could turn this reader-friendly yet challenging trait of his onto some event in the real world. The event could be huge, or it might be something smaller and more personal. He added that he thought a book like that would probably do you some good in the marketplace. He has a point there, actually. I mean, I think it’s an extraordinarily interesting idea. Do you want to consider it? Why don’t you just mull it over for a couple of days, see what occurs to you? I mean, just as a suggestion.”

“David,” I said, “no matter what my intentions are, everything I write winds up turning into fiction, including my letters to friends.” Yet David is a good guy, and he does look out for me. I promised to think about it, which was disingenuous of me because in fact I already had been turning over the possibility of doing a nonfiction book. An unpublished and unpublishable manuscript I had come across on eBay a couple of months earlier, a kind of memoir by a Milwaukee homicide detective named George Cooper, seemed to crack open an old, officially unsolved series of murders that had much interested my friends and me when we were in grade school and high school. Of even greater interest to me right now was that these “Ladykiller” homicides appeared to have an at least tangential connection to a dark matter that involved these friends of mine, including the amazing girl who became my wife, though not me, in our last year in high school. But of that I did not wish to think—it involved a young man named Keith Hayward who had been, it seemed, a sick, evil child tutored in his sickness and evil by a truly demonic figure, his uncle. All of that was in the sort-of memoir Detective Cooper had written out in his cursive, old-school hand, and even as I put the story together I was determined to resist the gravitational pull it worked on me. The immense theological question of evil felt too great, too complex to address with the tools and weapons I possessed. What I knew best had only to do with stories and how they proceeded, and a mere instinct for narrative wasn’t enough to take on the depths of the Hayward story. That my wife and our friends had come in contact with creepy Keith Hayward also put me off.

At the usual hour of one-thirty, hunger pulled me into the kitchen, where I put together a salad, warmed up some soup, and made half a sandwich with pumpernickel bread, Black Forest ham, coleslaw, and Russian dressing. Dinah Lion, my assistant, who would otherwise have been present, did not come in on Mondays, so the isolation of morning remained intact. Dinah would be gone for the next 10 days or so, also, in an arrangement we had worked out with my accountants that was going to let her join her parents in Tuscany at half pay in exchange for some juggling with the vacation she normally took in August.

For some reason, the second I sat down before my solitary little meal, I felt like weeping. Something vital was slipping away from me, and for once this sense wasn’t just a fantasy about the novel I was writing. The huge wave of sadness building up within me was connected to something more critical than Her Level Gaze; it was something I had lived with for much longer than I had my foundering book. Tears steamed up into my eyes and trembled there. For an excruciating moment, I was in the ridiculous position of grieving for a person, a place, or a condition that remained hidden from me. Someone I loved had died when we were both very young—that’s what it felt like—and I had committed the dim-witted crime of never stopping to mourn that loss until just now. This must have been the source of the shame I tasted before I started ramming scrambled eggs, avocado, and cheddar cheese into my mouth. I had let this person disappear.

At the thought of the breakfast I had forced down my throat in the Corner Bakery, my hunger curdled. The food on the table looked poisoned. Tears slid down my face, and I stood up to turn toward the counter and grab some tissues. After I had wiped my face and blown my nose, I bagged up the half sandwich, covered the salad bowl with clingy film, and slammed the soup bowl into the microwave, where I could be counted on to forget about it until the next time I opened the thing. Then I made an aimless circuit of the kitchen. The book I had begun writing seemed to have locked me out, which I usually take to mean that it’s waiting for some other, younger author to come along and treat it right. It would be at least a day before I could face my desk again, and when I did I would probably have to dream up some other project.

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Dark Matter 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
DogStreetBookGuy More than 1 year ago
I came to this new Straub book filled with anticipation. I have been a fan of his writing for decades, going back to Koko. I've not read everything he has written, but I have read a lot of it, both short form and novel length. His short story Pork Pie Hat is one of my favorite short stories...by anybody. Some might argue that all genre fiction falls short of attaining the status of art. I am not one of those people, but I can admit that there has been a proliferation of fluff in the horror genre. At his best, Mr. Straub elevates genre fiction to the level of true literature. But, and it's a big "but", at his worst, Straub comes across as intentionally obscure and embarrassingly self-indulgent, and "A Dark Matter" is a prime example. Ostensibly an account of a terrifying event that happened to the narrator while he was in high school during the 60's, or more accurately, an event that happened to a group of the narrator's friends, as the narrator chose not to share the experience with them...as he never tires of reminding the reader, over and over and over. So this earth-shattering event that changed the lives of this group of friends, which may, in fact, have changed the very nature of reality as we know it, is only an event that the reader learns about by heresay. The narrators eyes are, perforce, the readers eyes. Since he never witnessed this Dark Matter directly, then the reader never does either. And this is a fatal flaw. I think it is Wordsworth who gives the origin of poetry as "emotion recollected in tranquility." That's all well and good for poetry...but for a story of this sort I think we need more emotion and a little less tranquility. I'm not saying that Mr. Straub needs to take his cue from the splatterpunks of the 80s. But the reader needs to actually FEEL something. The narrator has buried his memories of the event so deeply that he seems to have no real feelings about it...ergo, the reader feels nothing, too. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I did not finish A Dark Matter. But I TRIED. It's pacing is glacial. I found that my attention was constantly drifting. Mr. Straub seems oddly reticent to approach his subject matter directly, choosing instead to sidle up to it over and over again, only to slip away again. I found myself wishing he would just get to the point. One wonders if, just maybe, he was suffering (like his narrator) from a touch of writer's block. I WANTED to like this book...but it just didn't have a strong enough hook to pull me in. Life is too short to waste it reading bad books. I'm not a fast reader, but I finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss in less than a week, and it was nearly 900 pages. In the same amount of time, I managed to read barely 60 pages of A Dark Matter. And that speaks volumes.
TheBeanDude More than 1 year ago
I love Peter Straub, and have read practically everything he has written, and loved pretty much everything I've read of his (my favorites being ¿If You Could See Me Now¿, ¿Shadowland¿, ¿Mystery¿, and ¿Mr. X¿), but I really struggled with this. I have read a couple of reviews saying how they were having to reread sections because it was as if they had fallen asleep, well, I kept having that same problem as well. It pains me to pan a novel by Peter Straub, but so far, this one is confusing as h*ll and very bad. I kept asking myself "what the h*ll is this even about?!" as I continued to plunge through it. All the reviews I have read about it, whether good or bad, all seem to say the same thing about the plot being about four friends recollecting an incident from their past with a guru named Spencer Mallon; and the flashbacks are all told over and over again from different perspectives. And, that seemed to be a major complaint with a lot of people. However, I don¿t even see the novel doing that! I feel it started out strong within the first 100 or so pages, but then quickly deteriorated into a jumbled confusing mess. I was looking forward to the ¿Rashomon¿ style of storytelling that I read so many reviewers claiming this book had, but it is not in here. Maybe I am reading another copy of ¿A Dark Matter¿ than everybody else read; or at least I was questioning that over and over as I struggled to keep reading this. Again, it really pains me to say this because Straub is one of my all-time favorite authors, some of his novels I hail as the best pieces of literature ever, but this is not one of his better works; matter of fact, very far from it. I finally got around to finishing the novel. And, as much as I liked the immensely layered writing, the rich characterization, and even the final denoument of what happened in the meadow as told by the Eel, the final person to share her memories with the group, I still found it to be a very deadening thud of a bad read. The writing was so textured and had some really deep hidden gems in it, but overall, when I got to the very last page, I was left thinking "so what?!" Again, this pains me to say anything negative about a piece of literature by one of the chief writers working today, but this is not a book I can recommend. But either way I am glad I read it, and I may read it again in the future, but I am sure I will come to the same conclusion, the same opinion, the same result: This was not Straub's strongest effort by far! Thank you. :>)
jmpman44 More than 1 year ago
I've read The Talisman and Black House which Mr. Straub co-wrote with Stephen King, and thought I'd give one of his stand-alone novels a try. So, I picked up A Dark Matter and was looking forward to enjoying it. Overall, it's an extremely well-written book, and the plot and story is very good and very original. Unfortunately, I only really enjoyed half of the book. The parts of Lee and Don traveling and tracking down their old friends to try and unravel some of the mystery of what happened (You'll have to read to understand) were the parts I enjoyed reading. The monologues of their friends explaining what exactly did happen were at times almost impossible to comprehend and/or follow. Mr. Straub aimed for weird and far out there, and he hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too far out there and at times left me concentrating way too hard trying to decipher what I was reading and see it in my head. This may not be the case for some, but for me this book was a very talented writer with a very unique vision that may have proved to be too hard to put into words.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Nomadic charismatic guru Spencer Mallon arrives in Madison, Wisconsin accompanied by his beautiful lover Meredith Bright and subservient University of Wisconsin students, Keith Hayward and Brett Milstrap. The charmer invites several high school students which include Lee Harwell, his tomboy girlfriend, Lee "Eel" Truax, Howard "Hootie" Bly, Jason "Boats" Boatman, and Donald "Dilly" Olson to attend a night ritual. Before the sun rises, Hayward is dead and Bright vanished. Over the years each has coped differently to that horrid night that changed all of them. Milstrap has avoided responsibility preferring Peter Pan to adulthood. The Lees married, but Eel has since lost her sight. Bly was taken to a mental institution on that horrific night and remains there while citing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as his only form of speech. Bright came out of whatever hole she had hidden inside of to marry into power. Boatsman went from shoplifter extraordinaire to shoplifting crime prevention extraordinaire. Filly Olson has never moved on. All will converge to relive what each chose to psychologically forget about that deadly night when novelist Harwell writes a nonfiction account of the horror that still impacts all of those who attended Mallon's malevolent ritual. This is a convoluted but enjoyable horror thriller as Peter Straub keeps the audience guessing whether what happened was a group psychological hysteria or something evil from beyond. All of the survivors realize they do not have total recall of what occurred in spite of the college student's death. Although at times difficult to fathom what truly happened as murky memories make for a murky story line, fans who prefer something different will want to know what the students faced on the night that changed each of them. Harriet Klausner
mausergem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A group of high school kids get influenced by a shaman who performs a ceremony which opens a window to another world. That evening a guy in the group dies and one goes insane. A few years later when the husband of one of the victims who also happens to be a writer investigated each comes up with his own version of the occurrences of that day.For a tale of horror it is quite Luke warm.
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to Straub through his work with King on the Talisman and Dark House books. Given their tie to the Dark Tower books, his ability to write about two overlapping worlds (and more) became obvious. In A Dark Matter he's right back in this element, describing an overlapping world beyond ours with disturbing clarity.He does take a long time to get to the point of this story, but there is some gifted writing to enjoy en route. He uses multiple viewpoints to continually shed new light on the mystery at the core of the story. The character who spoke primarily in quotations from other literature was entertaining as well.The highlight of this book occurs (not unsurprisingly) near the end as the narrative approaches its climax. Straub has a gift for using adjectives you wouldn't expect to make surreal scenes absolutely vivid in your imagination.A Dark Matter isn't an instant-payoff novel¿it's like an album you grow to love the longer you listen to it.
Sararush on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As compelling as it is bizarre, in A Dark Matter, Peter Straub examines an occult ritual experienced by a group of teens from nearly every perspective. An idea which is interesting in concept but frustrating at times when put into practice. We begin the story many years after the terrifying events that shape the story have already taken place, and so, since the climax of the story is only referred to as memories, the entire tale is resolution. Straub builds an intensely layered story that makes you think about the fundamental philosophies of how we understand evil in modern times. If you¿re hoping for a mindless page turning thriller, you¿ll be disappointed as this novel is more subtle, ambiguous and intellectual than that. A Dark Matter is intensely creative but more strange and creepy than typically frightening. The audio version is read by Robertson Dean who gives an intense narration.
tobiejonzarelli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I usually enjoy a good Peter Straub novel, and this one carried me along, but somehow didn't quite make it, not his best book for sure.
johnplatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Light on plot, but deep on meaning. I don't know if I read this book, or if it read me.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh Peter. As much as I love your imagination and the way you put a story together, this one tried my patience and I skimmed the last 50 pages or so. One long bad acid trip or dream and I HATE reading dream sequences in anything. I will add more if I can process it out of my head.
msouliere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿No more than a dark shimmer in the air.¿ --Howard ¿Hootie¿ BlyA Dark Matter is Peter Straub¿s latest novel. Don¿t let the fact that his work is classified as horror scare you away. This categorization glosses over the fact that in reality Straub writes speculative fiction of a highly literate nature, with a special focus on the shadows, which is true in this case and in past novels such as Shadowland.As A Dark Matter opens, Lee Harwell is in search of his past. More correctly, he is in search of the past of his wife and friends, who experienced something one night in 1966 that they never explained to him, never let him in on, and never shared, though it shaped their lives and his from that night on.In the mid 1960s, the ripples of world change were striding across the American landscape. There were those who adroitly gauged the effects of the growing social unrest and seized upon that wave. One of these was Spencer Mallon, a young adventurer guru, who swept into Madison, Wisconsin, and wowed his way into the hearts, minds, pantries and bedrooms of a series of young students. All that talk of heady epiphanies ended on a night in mid-October, leaving behind Lee¿s friends, forever altered, and another student¿s mangled body in a field. There had been a transformation, as Mallon promised, but it wasn¿t what any of them had expected.Four decades later, Lee tries to put the pieces back together again, one person at a time.Peter Straub¿s books hold for me a certain type of enchantment, an allure that makes it difficult to nail down in my own words an accurate impression of his work. It has to do with mystery. It has to do with fleeting impressions and momentary glimpses that make you wonder. What was that about? Where did it come from? Did I really see that? Did I really hear that? Would a ¿yes¿ in answer to those last two questions really be a good thing?Perhaps this quote from Lewis Carroll¿s Through the Looking Glass will make matters a little clearer: `The name of the song is called "Haddocks' Eyes."' `Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested. `No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. `That's what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man."' `Then I ought to have said "That's what the song is called"?' Alice corrected herself. `No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called "Ways and Means": but that's only what it's called, you know!' `Well, what is the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered. `I was coming to that,' the Knight said. `The song really is "A-sitting On A Gate": and the tune's my own invention.'You see?I¿m pretty sure I need to sit down and read the book again, because I want to. It¿s been a few months now since I finished reading it for this review. It¿s taken me that long to try to really process how the book captured me (and I still can¿t quite do it). A lot of other reviewers have complained about the lack of oomph in the ending. I can see that ¿ I think I myself felt a little let down, after the highs of the story itself. But if Straub really was doing an experiment with this book, in which time and perception weave their layers as bizarrely as they do in real life and its memories, why does the story really need an ending?¿You¿ll see. Everything stops when you open the door.¿ --Spencer Mallon
jefishman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On some level, of course, Peter Straub writes well. But this book is sad testament to the current publishing reality, where unknown novelists are held to impossibly high standards while established writers get a free pass. The blurbs on this novel describe a book that isn¿t here. It uses the Roshomon technique to little effect, creating shades of meaning so fine they may as well be non-existent, especially for a commercial novel. The structure keeps doubling back on itself, denuding the book of drama or suspense while the plot settles into a kind of stasis that can¿t have been the author¿s intention. And where was Peter Straub¿s editor while he was mixing points of view and intermingling names to a point that, at times, approaches incoherence?
Tommie1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr Straub is a very difficult story teller to follow. I found this book was no exception. The characters tell an interesting story but it washard to keep interested.
CasualFriday on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Dark Matter was blurbed by some impressive writers, including Dan Chaon and Lorrie Moore, so I brought some high expectations to this book about the aftermath of an occult experiment undertaken by a group of students in the 1960s. The structure, in which a famous writer belatedly asks his friends, and his wife, to tell him the truth about What Happened in the Meadow, inspired a few of the blurbers to invoke Rashomon, but it never gripped me like that. Part of my problem is that I don't take occultism seriously, and it almost seems as if Straub does, especially in the high-minded, spiritually inclined climax. I don't mind suspending my disbelief, but this novel gave me no reason to. I was mostly bored.
ATechwreck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much ado about nothing. Well written, but overlong with little substance. Sorry!
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's like this. You will like or dislike this book depending on your expectations. If you're expecting the kind of hackle-raising horror that is often associated with this author, you may be disappointed. If you are expecting a slam-bang, linear narrative in which all is revealed, you probably won't want to read it. It is really not so much a novel of horror but more of a look at the whole concept of the connectivity of good and evil, so if you come at it from that angle, you will definitely get much more out of it than if you think you're getting say, a book along the lines of Straub's Julia or If You Could See Me Now. If you're willing to put in the time and you can deal with a different approach to writing than you're used to seeing with this author, then it just might work out to be a good read. The key here is that this is not a passive book -- meaning that the reader has work to do here as well. The crux of this novel hinges on events that happened in the late 60s in Madison, Wisconsin. A group of high-school friends meet a strange and charismatic guru-ish figure named Spencer Mallon, and find themselves held in thrall by his teachings. With the exception of the narrator of this story, Lee Harwell, all of the kids go off with Mallon to be part of a ritual he's conducting at that time, accompanied by three other people, also followers of Mallon. What happened at that ritual is what Harwell, later in life, wants to determine. His wife, also Lee (but called "the Eel") was there, but over all of this time, has refused to let him in on the details. Little by little he gathers the story in pieces from all of the various participants with two exceptions: one person who was suspected, even in the 60s, of being a serial killer, and a friend of his who went missing afterwards. The book blurbs (and most reviews of this book) note that this is done in a "Rashomon" style, which is an apt description of how Harwell is able to glean an insight into not only what happened, but why things turned out as they did for each and every one of Mallon's groupies later in life. This is a work of metafiction, in which the author (Lee Harwell) is gathering information and retelling the story for a book he is writing. This sent up a flag for me -- can we really trust this guy in relating this information to the readers -- meaning, is Harwell a reliable narrator here? Also, this is mostly a character, rather than plot-driven novel, since each of the people involved have different aspects of the story to relate. While this is a cool approach, I was left with a sense of something lacking in most of the people involved that would provide more depth to this novel, with one exception, the kid who turned out to be the serial killer. Hmm. I was also happy to find Tim Underhill mentioned in this novel, since he's been one of my favorite characters since the Koko years. Overall, it's a good novel, although often a bit repetitious and thus frustrating sometimes early on, but stick with it. What Straub is trying to say here may not be new, but it is worth the time you put in to read the book. His approach is different but a good one. I don't know that I would specifically label it horror, but more of a psychological suspense with elements of the supernatural involved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed the characters and story development in Straub's A Dark Matter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book I've read by Straub. I have read books he cowrote with Stephen King. His writing is very good, but the story is so thin and just boring. I was 200 pages in, still waiting fof it to hook me. I wound up skimming and it looks like it continued on. The "Dark Matter" seems like a bad LSD trip by some '60s students after reading too much Lewis Carroll. Lots of boring second hand accounts by other characters. Dull, dull, dull.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark matter was a pretty good read. However, It wasn't near the top of my favorites for Straub. I didn't find too many of the characters very likable and the whole "incident in the meadow" even after reading the different interpretations was still difficult to follow. I suppose if you love Straub read it. If you are new to the author I would read Koko or the Talisman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's a reason this book has only two stars. It deserves it! This one needs to be on the discount Nook shelf.
scubafan More than 1 year ago
I agree with the other reviewers who are Straub fans but pretty much hated this book. I found nothing terrifying. The descriptions of the demons and visions read like an LSD trip, outrageously bizarre but with no continuity and no horror except for physical mutilations. It is never made clear what was so special about Eel or why she had the pivotal role, nor what her continuing relationship with Mallon was.A boy is murdered and mutilated and everyone there goes free. Besides not making much sense, I found the tale boring and about 4 times too long. The best part, since I listened to the audio version, was the reader whose voices help me visualize the personalities of the characters.