A government experiment goes awry and a deadly gas is released over the affluent suburb of Hampstead, Connecticut. Meanwhile, the decendants of the town's original founders return toHampstead for the firts time in over 100 years, igniting a firestorm of events that are the continuation of an ongoing curse. After I read (and was completely scared shitless) by Ghost Story in high school, I was afraid to read anything else by Straub. I remember passing up Shadowland and this book; by then I was involved with reading too many other writers to be concerned with him. But rereading Ghost Story last year got me thinking about investigating more of Straub's work and the 30th Anniversry edition of FD seemed like a good place to start. I was mistaken about that as this book was a huge disappointment. I think the biggest problem with Floating Dragon was that it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a supernatural or science-gone-awry tale. It begins with a pretty good setup of a DOD expereimental project getting released into the atmosphere and then becoems the tale of a curse over Hampstead that recurs every 30 years or so. Even as the two threads continue, they never mesh in any significant way--in fact, the narrator of the story decides that the chemical accident was merely a coincidence. So the reader is left wondering why it was needed to bloat an already over-wrought story. Then there is the narrator of the story, a black-listed author of novels/screenplays who ex-patriated himself to England and alcoloholism until the McCarthy-era ended. He begins his story in the third person, but then breaks in with a chapter of first-person narration to explain his role in the affair. He says he got most of his information from the diaries of the three other protagonmists, but he may have made some stuff up himself--he's a writer after all, and he may not have remembered stuff very well. Then it's back to the first-person (though he does break in two more times for pointless POV narration.) So now we have a unrealiable narrator to deal with. Finally, the overall tone of the book is one of Straub being in love with his own writing. His unrealiable narrator speaks as if he is smarter than everybody else in the room and he knows it. Add to this a setting of affluent people who are feel they are better than everybody else and there's very little to care about in this confused and off-putting tale of death and destruction. In the epilogue to the story he talks about the narrator finally publishing "the excellent book Floating Dragon"--that actually made me laugh. But it just went to the overall arrogant and confused prose relating this tale. There was about 100 pages (divided by one of the narrator's interludes) that were pretty good--they dealt with the main storyline of the curse, not the chemical accident. And I liked the climactic scene in the Gorge at Kendall Point. But overall, this was not a memorable reading expereince. If you are a newcomer to Straub, start with another title--I recommend Ghost Story; if you're already a fan, you'll probably like it. But Cemetery Dance's edition of the book is beautiful (I gave it and extra 1/2 star for that!)
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