At the Foot of the Story Tree

At the Foot of the Story Tree

Illustration By Alan M. Clark

Dust jacket and autograph page art by Alan M. Clark.

At the Foot of the Story Tree was written to fill an inexplicable gap in the small body of critical literature that deals with modern horror fiction. Despite the fact that literally dozens of books have been written on the life and work of Stephen King, and that writers as diverse as Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell have become the subjects of biographies and critical monographs, no one -- up to now -- has published a book-length study of the fiction of Peter Straub. Reflecting on the situation in the fall of 1997, I decided it was time for someone to correct this oversight. With an arrogance born of innocence and inexperience, I decided to do the job myself.

Now, two years and many travails later, the book is done, and will be coming to you shortly courtesy of Subterranean Press. At the Foot of the Story Tree (a title which should be familiar to readers of Shadowland) is an old-fashioned work of criticism that takes a hard -- and hopefully thorough -- look at the entire body of Peter Straub's fiction, from his relatively obscure mainstream novel, Marriages, through his ambitious new supernatural thriller, Mr. X, and from the shorter fiction collected in Houses Without Doors through such recent, still uncollected stories as the Stoker Award-winning "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff." Book by book, story by story, I have done my best to untangle the complexities of Straub's fiction, to isolate and illuminate its central concerns, and to articulate my highly personal sense of its unique -- and, I believe  enduring -- value.

Whether or not I've achieved any of these objectives is not for me to say. Anyone who takes the time to read my book can make that judgment for him or herself. I only hope that At the Foot of the Story Tree encourages readers to take a second -- perhaps, in some cases, a first -- look at the novels and stories of Peter Straub. In the end, real criticism exists to serve its subject, and this particular subject has, over a period of more than twenty years, provided me -- and many others -- with a large number of complex pleasures. This long overdue critical study is my personal response to those many pleasures. Writing it has been, in the truest sense of that overused expression, a labor of love.

-- Bill Sheehan

Alan M. Clark
Bill Sheehan
350 pages
United States
Out of Print