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Rustam Rams
Rustam Rams

The Secrets Behind Ghost Story by Peter Straub: An Interview with the Author


Ghost Story by Peter Straub: A Classic Horror Novel




If you are looking for a spine-chilling read that will keep you up at night, you might want to check out Ghost Story by Peter Straub. This novel, published in 1979, is widely regarded as one of the best horror books of all time. It tells the tale of four elderly men who share a dark secret from their past, and how they are haunted by a vengeful spirit that threatens to destroy them and their town. In this article, we will give you an overview of Ghost Story, its plot, themes, style, reception, and adaptations. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about this masterpiece of horror fiction.




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The Plot: A Summary of the Main Events and Characters




Ghost Story begins with the death of Edward Wanderley, one of the members of the Chowder Society, a group of old friends who meet regularly to tell each other ghost stories. His nephew, Don Wanderley, a successful horror writer, comes to his funeral in the small town of Milburn, New York. There he meets the other members of the Chowder Society: Ricky Hawthorne, Sears James, and Lewis Benedikt. They tell him that Edward died of a heart attack after seeing a ghostly woman in his hotel room.


Don reveals that he also had a terrifying encounter with a similar woman in New York City, where he was involved with a young actress named Alma Mobley. He suspects that Alma is somehow connected to his uncle's death and the strange events that are happening in Milburn. He decides to stay in town and investigate the mystery.


As the story unfolds, we learn that the Chowder Society has a dark secret that dates back to 1929. They were involved in the accidental death of a young woman named Eva Galli, who they met at a party. They buried her body in a car at the bottom of a lake and swore never to speak of it again. However, they soon realized that Eva was not an ordinary woman, but a powerful shape-shifter who could take on different forms and manipulate reality. She has been haunting them ever since, seeking revenge for her death.


Eva Galli appears in various guises throughout the novel, such as Anna Mostyn, Fenny Bate, and Gregory Bate. She also influences other characters, such as Stella Hawthorne (Ricky's wife), Milly Benedikt (Lewis's daughter), and Peter Barnes (the local sheriff). She causes nightmares, hallucinations, accidents, murders, and suicides among the townspeople. She also creates an army of zombies from the corpses of her victims.


The climax of the novel occurs on a snowy night when Eva Galli unleashes her full wrath on Milburn. She sets fire to the town and sends her zombies to attack the survivors. Don Wanderley leads a group of people to the old house where Eva Galli lived in 1929. There he confronts her and discovers her true identity and origin. He manages to defeat her by using his own imagination and storytelling skills.


The Themes: How Ghost Story Explores Fear, Guilt, and Revenge




One of the main themes of Ghost Story is fear. The novel explores the different types of fear that people experience, such as fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of the past, fear of the self, and fear of the other. The novel also shows how fear can affect people's behavior, relationships, and sanity. The Chowder Society members are paralyzed by their fear of Eva Galli, who represents their repressed guilt and shame. They are unable to face their own responsibility for her death and the consequences of their actions. They also fear each other, as they suspect that one of them might be a traitor or a spy for Eva Galli.


Another theme of Ghost Story is guilt. The novel examines the psychological and moral effects of guilt on the characters, especially the Chowder Society members. They are haunted by their guilt for killing Eva Galli and lying about it for decades. They are also guilty for other sins and crimes that they committed in their lives, such as adultery, betrayal, corruption, and violence. They try to cope with their guilt by telling each other ghost stories, which serve as a form of confession and catharsis. However, they also use their stories to rationalize and justify their actions, and to avoid facing the truth.


A third theme of Ghost Story is revenge. The novel depicts the cycle of violence and vengeance that is triggered by Eva Galli's death. Eva Galli is motivated by revenge for her own murder and the violation of her dignity. She wants to make the Chowder Society members suffer as much as she did, and to destroy everything they love and cherish. She also wants to punish the whole town of Milburn, which she sees as a symbol of hypocrisy and oppression. She uses her supernatural powers to manipulate and torment her enemies, and to turn them against each other. She also enjoys playing with their emotions and expectations, making them hope for salvation or redemption, only to dash them at the last moment.


The Style: How Straub Creates Suspense, Atmosphere, and Symbolism




Ghost Story is written in a style that combines realism and fantasy, horror and humor, tradition and innovation. Straub uses various techniques to create suspense, atmosphere, and symbolism in his novel.


One of these techniques is the use of multiple narrators and perspectives. The novel switches between different points of view, such as Don Wanderley, Ricky Hawthorne, Sears James, Lewis Benedikt, Peter Barnes, Eva Galli, and others. This allows Straub to show different aspects of the story and the characters, and to create ambiguity and uncertainty about what is real and what is not. It also creates a sense of irony and contrast between what the characters think and what the reader knows.


Another technique is the use of flashbacks and stories within stories. The novel moves back and forth in time, from 1929 to 1979, revealing the history and background of the characters and the events. It also incorporates several stories that the characters tell each other or themselves, such as ghost stories, fairy tales, legends, myths, dreams, fantasies, and memories. These stories serve various functions in the novel, such as providing clues, foreshadowing outcomes, expressing emotions, exploring themes, creating parallels, or subverting expectations.


A third technique is the use of imagery and symbolism. The novel is rich in visual descriptions that create a vivid picture of the setting and the mood. Straub uses colors, sounds, smells, textures, shapes, and objects to convey meaning and emotion. For example, - He uses white to symbolize death, coldness, emptiness, - He uses red to symbolize blood, - He uses black to symbolize evil, - He uses fire to symbolize destruction, - He uses snow to symbolize isolation, - He uses water to symbolize life, - He uses mirrors to symbolize identity, - He uses masks to symbolize deception, - He uses books to symbolize knowledge, - He uses clocks to symbolize time. The Reception: How Critics and Readers Reacted to Ghost Story




Ghost Story was a critical and commercial success when it was published in 1979. It received positive reviews from critics who praised its originality, - Its complexity, - Its depth, - Its style, - Its atmosphere, - Its characters, - Its themes. It was nominated for several awards, - Such as the World Fantasy Award, - The British Fantasy Award, - The Locus Award. It was also a bestseller, - Selling over a million copies in hardcover - And paperback editions. It has been translated into many languages - And has remained in print ever since. It has influenced many other writers - And works of horror fiction, Such as - Stephen King, - Clive Barker, - Neil Gaiman, - The Shining, - It, - American Horror Story. It has 71b2f0854b


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