Peter Straub. Shadow Land. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980.
“To do magic, to do great magic, he has to know himself as a piece of the universe.”
“A piece of the universe?”
“A little piece that has all the rest of it. Everything outside him is also inside him.”
Peter Straub is one of the few magicians I have ever met: that rare real thing, a writer who starts a tale in a recognizable place and enables the reader to go somewhere unexpected and unsettling. Perception is malleable, suggests Straub; memory struggles against silence.
One summer long ago, schoolboys Tom and Del travel to Vermont to spend a summer with Del’s reclusive uncle, Coleman Collins, once a legendary magician and performer in England and on the Continent.