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|Description:||136 p. ; 21 cm.|
"Straub's fandom will soon feel a frisson of déjà vu reading this, his first singly published novella. It's an extract from Skylark (2009), the limited-edition long version of A Dark Matter (2010), which relates the backstory of the college student, Keith Hayward, sensationally killed at the novel's climax. By then, Keith is a sociopath on the verge of following his uncle's lead into serial murder. The novella lays out the course of his education for the trade by Uncle Till, right up to his -- Keith's -- first murder. To Keith, beginning at least at age 12, Till is utterly fascinating, but when the handsome, apparently footloose man returns the interest in the wake of a neighbor's suspicion that Keith has killed her cat and suggests that the boy find and use a special place for his possibly compromising pleasures, fascination becomes enthrallment. A lowering aura like that of the high-school scenes involving the hero's son in David Cronenberg's film A History of Violence broods over this immaculately written portrait of a maculate-to-the-max character in formation. --Ray Olson, Booklist ; Library journal, starred review