Peter Straub, literary giant, dies at 79

Peter Straub (1943-2022) was one of the greatest writers of our generation.

Known primarily as a horror writer due to his collaborations with Stephen King (“The talismanand “Black House”) and his bestselling books “Koko” and “Ghost Story”, he was also well known to those who read his work more deeply as a literary writer with a prose-rich style on par with great contemporaries such as John Irving, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates , Philip Roth, and John Updike. And although his books and stories have dark elements (his Blue Rose trilogy – “Koko”, “Mystery” and “The Throat” revolved around a serial killer, but are not not supernatural), he was a poet at heart who strove to create literature against genre fiction on the fly, and in his best and most popular works he was able to achieve both.

The late Peter Straub (Photo credit: Ben Kulo).

Most remember him as a genre giant of the 70s and 80s, when a horror revival was emerging thanks to King, Clive Barker, VC Andrews, Robert McCammon, Anne Rice and others, he also wrote – and strove to write – work that could be classified more broadly. His early novels were neither genre nor horror (“Marriages” and “Under Venus”), and he was a fan of literary greats such as John Ashbery and Henry James.

During his lifetime, Straub wrote seventeen novels, several collections of short stories, and almost a dozen short stories. He collected a non-fiction book (“Sides”) and was the editor of two major anthologies (“Poe’s Children” and “American Fantastic Tales”). It won several Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, was a New York Times bestseller, and had several books and stories adapted for film.

Outside of the best-selling “Ghost Story,” “Koko,” and his collaborations with King, Straub’s arguably most popular novels include “Shadowland,” “Floating Dragon,” and “A Dark Matter.” In addition to her own work, her daughter, novelist Emma Straub, wrote a book about her father’s declining health titled “Tomorrow at this time”. It premiered at number three on the New York Times bestseller list.

But more than a writer (in any classification or category), Straub was generous, kind, funny, supportive, gentle, genuine. He was a mentor to many, an inspiration to countless others, and embodied a greatness and warmth that will not easily, if ever, be replaced.

Today, the writing community mourns the passing of a legend in the field:

“Peter has saved my life, more than once, more than once, and I have never been able to repay him. A great author, a gentle, brilliant man. – Caitlin R. Kiernan

“A huge influence on me as a writer, and a kind and generous mentor.” –Dan Chaon

“Working with him has been one of the great joys of my creative life.” -Stephen King

“I wish I had written more about the work of Peter Straub and how much I enjoyed and was influenced by reading Shadowland at 19.” – Neil Gaman

“I remember the Ghost story that scared me.” –Joe Lansdale

“Peter Straub was a hero and I had the good fortune to know him over the past decade. The news of his passing is heartbreaking. –Paul Tremblay

“One of the kindest and most courteous people I have ever met.” –Benjamin Percy

“I owe a lot to Peter. It’s a dark day. –Laird Barron

“A terrific writer. I met him decades ago and was impressed by his kindness. –Alma Katsu

“It was Peter Straub, a few years after I started reading King, who taught me the finer details of the trade.” – Ronald Malefi

“One of the finest horror authors to ever work, one of the most admired and by far one of the kindest.” –Christophe Golden

“A genius writer who inspired me during my teenage years, a terrific storyteller and a witty man who could make you laugh in an instant.” – Thomas Old Heuvelt

“A wonderful writer and a generous human being.” –Brian Evenson

“Oh lord, Peter Straub. Another great guy and great friend is gone. – Ramsey Campbell

“His joy in my career and his total confidence in me is a buoy that I will cling to for the rest of my life.” -Emma Straub

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