Houses Without Doors

Dear Peter Straub,

I like your writing. I do. You’re convincing, you’re frightening without being too gory, your imagination is original, you have a sense that what is mysterious can be more frightening than what is seen. You have an ear for dialogue — don’t blush! — and you don’t have the bad habit so many writers have, of dwelling only in one part of society. I get the feeling you’re comfortable with beer budgets, champagne budgets, and champagne-is-so-vulgar budgets, if you get my drift.

But please, I beg of you, do me a favor, and really, unless I get word from you on this, I’m not reading any more of your books. First, lay off the child abuse. I get it, really, I think I do get it: the bullying, torture, abuse, molestation, and murder of children is the most horrifying and frightening thing we can think of. Does that mean you had to put it in every story in both Houses Without Doors and Magic Terror? Even you begin to look like a one-trick pony after a while, and it makes me look back on your novel Julia — one of the best and most genuinely scary horror novels I’ve ever read — with a leery sense of skepticism, thinking this may just have been the pony making its rounds after all.

Second, and this may seem minor to you, but I’ve now seen enough examples of it to make me want to wash my mouth out every time I read it in your work, stop making fat people the villains. It’s absolutely predictable, and it’s so much like your buddy Stephen King (although he also deals with the short people) that it’s laughable. As soon as I see someone in a story of yours who weighs over, say, 150, I know who the minion of Satan will be. Come on, Peter. You can do better than that.

I look forward to your next book when I read a review of it that says it deals with the adult trauma of noble heavyweights.

Sincerely yours,

Jenny

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