Daily Archives: June 19, 2007

Book #13 – Julia by Peter Straub

Sometimes when I read older books or watch older movies, I feel like I’ve read it before, seen it before.  The tropes are thick in these works, and it takes me a moment to realize that work I’m reading was probably part of the origin of the tropes.  Eric and I talked about this and his point of view was that if the work is good, truly good, the tropes won’t feel old.  And I agree.  The problem with Julia is the tropes feel stale.  The crux of the story involves a haunting, by an evil entity, that  is brought about by parallel circumstances.  It’s the coincidences that were ho-hum.

Craft Lesson #7
Style-wise, Straub is a very interesting contrast to Bloch and King.  Instead of the repetition and quick short prose, Straub’s writing flows…continually.  Julia feels like standing on a beach.  The waves will come, the tide will rise and fall.  There’s nothing you can do about it, nothing you can do to change it.  The prose just pulls you along.  It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not thrilling either.  It’s just steady, word after word, sentence after sentence.  Looking at Amazon.com’s text stats for the book, I find that it has the most complex words, most syllables per word and most words per sentence of anything I’ve read that I have stats for this year.  The manipulation of the reader is different.  Instead of stocks and thrills, Straub give you the slow burn.  It wasn’t until I’d read into the second half of the novel that I began to become fairly unsettled.  Does this style still work?   Because it seems to me to be a style of another era.  I might read something more recent of Straub’s.  It does verge on being boring, occasionally.  Actually, looking back, I think King combines these two styles, and Shirley Jackson’s Hill House does so with incredible results.  Not only do you get the slow burn, but the occasions of  quick fear.  (Those occasions are rarer with Jackson than with Bloch.)

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I’m two books behind my goal if I want to get 30 read this year.

Two cups of ginger tea before bed and I slept the entire night through, no coughing/choking.
Terrible headache at the moment though.  And I’m feeling very, very lazy.   I blame PMS.